Men’s Soccer: Chime, Leveque lead the pack in career debuts

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On Friday, Aug. 27, the University of Connecticut men’s soccer team played their first game of the season against the Bryant University Bulldogs. 

The team, which won just one game in a shortened season last year, quickly found more success in this season. They struck hard and fast, scoring their first goal just over two minutes into the 90-minute game. 

Freshman forward Okem Chime scored with assists from Moussa Wade and Thomas Decottignies at 2:06, a play which alone would’ve given the Huskies a victory. The game overall proved to be a welcome treat on behalf of Chime, who scored twice in his three shots on the goal. 

It would be more than an hour before Chime scored his goal, whichcame with an assist from teammate Mateo Leveque. 

“It was a great start for us and I’m just happy I can contribute to the win,” Chime said after the game.  

The third goal of the game came off of Chime’s third shot on goal, which was deflected by the Bryant goalie and converted by Leveque into a goal in the 81st minute of the game.  

It was a good start to the season for the Huskies, who went 1-6-1 last season and lost several games to COVID-19 cancelations. Beginning this season with just as many wins as they ended last season with is a good start, as the  only way to go is up.  

A promising stat from UConn’s victory is the clean sheet earned by graduate student goalkeeper Jahmali Waite.  Waite recorded three saves in the contest, a clear improvement from UConn’s goalkeepers last season, which held opponents scoreless just twice.  

The front line got a bit antsy on Friday, as the Huskies were called for offsides on two different occasions, while the Bulldogs were not at all. UConn is going to have to stay a little more disciplined and watch the opposing team’s back line if they want to create even more opportunities on net. 

One notable thing about this team is its youth, as five freshmen earned the start on Friday, spanning each side of the pitch. Chime, the game’s MVP, is a freshman, as is Leveque. Two of the three starting defensemen, Bjorn Nikolajewski and Guillarme Vacter, made their first college appearances as well. Wade and Decottignies are just beginning their sophomore campaigns. While they hope to improve upon last season’s record, know that their potential can be sky-high in the coming years. 

The Huskies were projected to finish eighth in the Big East in this preseason’s coaches poll. While it didn’t win a single Big East game last spring (one tie to Seton Hall), the team is taking a step in the right direction with this early victory. 

UConn (1-0-0) continues their season on Friday night, when they take on the University of Rhode Island (0-1-0) at home. These teams last played each other in 2019, which the Huskies won 3-1 on the road. The team has seen major success against URI in the past, as they are on a 14-game winning streak dating back to 1982. 

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