Seeking to build on the momentum created by their home victory over Marquette earlier in the week, the UConn men’s soccer team was determined to roll into their short road trip with consecutive wins at Morrone, taking on Creighton under the lights Saturday night.
It did not take long for the Huskies to build the offensive momentum in the first half, after battling back and forth with Creighton in a first handful of minutes that saw the Bluejays peppering the goal to put the pressure on Jahmali Waite and company. UConn found the back of the net first, as sophomore Ben Awashie scored off a feed from fellow underclassman Mateo Leveque.
Unfortunately for the Huskies, this lead would not last long, as Creighton’s leading goal scorer Diego Gutierrez put in his seventh goal of the 2021 campaign to bring his Bluejays squad level early in the first half.
The two Big East foes went back and forth throughout the rest of the first half. Dominic Laws and Bjorn Nikolajewski put some pressure on Creighton’s defensive attack, but to no avail, as neither shot could give the Huskies the lead going into the break, with Bluejays goalkeeper Paul Kurse turning away Nikolajewski’s shot on goal. Waite was able to maintain the defensive prowess with a save on a Duncan McGuire shot attempt with about five minutes to go before the half, helping UConn and Creighton go into the break tied at one.
There were a couple of chances for both squads to jump ahead, with Moussa Wade recording two shots on goal for the Huskies and Creighton’s offensive attack waking up as well, but the defensive pressure and goalkeepers stood strong to keep this conference duel tied. It was key for UConn to keep Gutierrez and the Creighton offense at bay going into the conference showdown and the Huskies delivered throughout the second half. UConn was desperate to take the advantage, and they got their opportunity with a costly Creighton foul call in the box that gave Leveque a penalty kick with a little over 10 minutes away.
The freshman from France put the penalty kick into the back of the net in the 78th minute to put his Huskies squad ahead 2-1, converting the opportunity with UConn needing defensive help to make sure the lead stood up. However, the visiting Bluejays would not go quietly into the night. With a minute to go in regulation, Jackson Castro broke the hearts of the Husky faithful with his first goal of the season to send this conference showdown into overtime evened up at two apiece.
Overtime kicked off and again it was Gutierrez and Wade looking to bring it home for their respective teams, each recording shots in the first extra time period, but neither team was able to capitalize as the second period kicked off. The final fifteen minutes consisted of the defenses battling back and forth until the final whistle, with UConn and Creighton coming to a draw, with a score of 2-2.
The shot battle was heavily contested between these two teams, the Huskies maintaining a slim advantage of 15-13, with six shots from UConn coming on goal and five for the Bluejays respectively. Creighton had double the amount of fouls than UConn, with 16 compared to the Huskies’ eight. Ben Awashie, Nikolajewski, Wade and Leveque led the offensive pressure for UConn, registering three shots a piece. This balanced attack is a positive sign for a Huskies offensive that has struggled to piece together consecutive solid performances this season.
Creighton returns home with their 4-6-2 record to take on Xavier in Omaha on Wednesday night in another conference showdown. The Huskies start a mini road trip, battling Seton Hall in West Orange, New Jersey, on Wednesday as well, with hopes to add a win to their 5-4-2 record and notch their second conference victory of the season.