Men’s soccer: Huskies duel with defending Big East champion Seton Hall Pirates


The University of Connecticut men’s soccer team will look to avenge a painful tie from their grudge match against Creighton as they hit the road for the first time in almost a month.  

The Huskies (5-4-2, 1-3-2 Big East) were firing on all cylinders. Sophomore Moussa Wade catalyzed the efforts, and his team leading 28 shots are proof of the opportunities he gets throughout the game. With two goals and four assists to his name, Wade has been a key contributor to an offense that just continues to scorch opposing defenses. 

Freshman Okem Chime (three goals) is picking up heat with three shots in two games to up his total to 18 in 13 games. Like his debut performance against Bryant, you can just feel a breakout game coming in the cool East Coast air, and a team like the Pirates provides the chance to do so. 

The game plan has been the same in terms of starting forwards, but don’t count out contributions from freshman Scott Testori, sophomore Giancarlo Vaccaro and senior Dominic Laws, all of whom know how to bring fiery energy from the bench. 

The midfield was the biggest contributor on Saturday. Big East Honor Roll member Ben Awashie is starting to gain traction, as he picked up his second collegiate goal on Saturday. His two goals and one assist are a dangerous combination that Seton Hall should look out for. 

Big East Freshman of the Week, Mateo Leveque, had himself a game as he picked up an assist and scored on the penalty kick for his second goal of the season. His 20 shots are second on the team and he has been a reliable secret weapon from the corner. 

The secret weapon status also belongs to sophomore Jayden Reid, who is itching for another masterclass before the end of the season. He’s tied for the team lead in assists with four while his 13 shots keep him in the top five for the team. Together these three can use sneak attacks on defenses focusing primarily on Chime and Wade. 

Meanwhile, junior captain Ahdan Tait and senior captain Felix Metzler bring the defensive pressure, turning into a demolition crew if it means keeping the ball out of the oppositions’ possession. Sophomore Kai Griese is an underrated aspect of that shutdown midfield and can sneak from behind to force a turnover. 

To that end, the defense is led by freshmen Bjorn Nikolajewski and Guillame Vactor. The two have started in every game and have the potential to be four-year starters by the time their collegiate careers come to an end. Originally, sophomore Thomas Decottignes helped transition them into the game, but now they are phasing sophomore Josh Morgan into the fray.  

The loudest leader and anchor of the team is goaltender Jahmali Waite. Waite is now up to 28 saves while conceding nine goals in 11 games. Even if writers could consider these numbers to be average, they don’t show the diving snares Waite makes in every contest to keep the team engaged with winning. 

Seton Hall (5-5-3, 1-4-1 Big East) has their senior night tonight and the Pirates are coming off a tie of their own, a scoreless war of attrition against St. John’s that saw both goaltenders play with a burning passion in their eyes. 

For the forwards, there are several guys that people should worry about. The first is senior JP Marin, who has two goals and four assists on 15 shots. Next up is sophomore Raz Amir, who has the exact same numbers as Marin. These two know how to find the back of the net and help others find the back of the net with meaningful plays in meaningful ways. 

Senior CJ Tibbling has just been a shot-maker so far as he has three goals (second on the team), two assists and a team-leading 27 shots. There’s junior Andrea Borg, who has one goal and three assists, but gets a lot of the starting minutes. Even with one goal, Borg knows how to be a huge part of the offense as his 16 shots rank third on the team. 

It just keeps going from there. Graduate student Jordan Jowers has two goals and three assists while sophomore Mans Saebbo has two goals and one assist. Altogether the Pirates have a lot of attackers that can score from anywhere, the defense will have to pick their poison. 

Down the middle, graduate student Camil Koriechi (one goal and one assist) and senior Paavo Riihjarvi (two goals, no assists) add on to the surplus of Pirate offense. It’s no surprise that this team won the Big East tournament last year (yes, they beat Georgetown in the final) and made it to the round of 16.  

Their defense has big goal scorers too, especially junior Johannes Pex, who’s five goals and five assists each lead the team and easily make him the biggest dual threat in the entire conference. He’s been a force from the start and is ready to knock you down if it means taking the ball and finding the net. 

The defense also has junior Denis Kelmendi, junior Eden O’Leary, sophomore Mark Walier and senior Luca Dahn (two goals) hungry to find ways to get the ball to the shark-infested waters known as their offense. Thanks to their style of play, they are quite literally the scouts leading the big dogs to the treasure. 

On top of all that, there’s Big East Honor Roll goaltender Andreas Nota. Nota picked up two shutouts over the past week and will look to maintain his shutout streak against a Husky offense that is consistently fired up. 

The clash to determine who gets win number 15 in the all-time series kicks off from South Orange, New Jersey tonight at 7:00 p.m. and can be viewed via FloSports with live stats provided by StatBroadcast. 

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