Men’s Soccer: UConn faces first ranked opponent of the season with showdown against Providence 

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The University of Connecticut men’s soccer team, fresh off a thrilling 1-0 victory against Seton Hall that saw it bury the game-winner with 15 seconds left, takes on a ranked Big East foe in its penultimate weekend match of the season. 

Sophomore Ben Awashie has been on fire as of late. In his last three games, he has picked up three goals, including the game-winner for the Huskies on Wednesday. He will look to continue his master series against some high-stakes competition. 

Next up is defending Big East Freshman of the Week Mateo Leveque, who is up to 22 shots with two goals and four assists to boot. Leveque has been a massive contributor, as his corner kicks consistently find the back of the net. 

The numbers Leveque has been putting up are almost perfectly aligned with sophomore Jayden Reid. Reid also has two goals and four assists, but on just 13 shots. Not to be outdone though, Reid always plays like he is qualified enough to teach a masterclass, and ranked opposition gives him a great chance to prove this once again. 

The midfield is a nice balance between offense and defense. The physical play of junior captain Ahdan Tait, senior captain Felix Metzler and sophomore Kai Griese is the stuff of nightmares for opposing teams, as proven by their combined eight yellow cards. 

Up front, freshman Okem Chime is up to 19 shots on the season and is itching to get his name on the score sheet after an impressive start to his collegiate career where he scored three goals in as many games. He’s had a sensational freshman year thus far and is taking great shots that have been close to finding the net. With a perfect shot this weekend, Chime can continue to lead the charge on offense and get his first goal of the season. 

There’s also sophomore Moussa Wade, who fires shots out of a cannon. He has a team-leading 28 shots and seven shots on goal that goes along well with his two goals and four assists. Senior Dominic Laws, freshman Scott Testori and sophomore Giancarlo Vaccaro, all of whom have one goal each, have been critical to the offense as well. You never know when they are going to break out, and their chances of having a standout performance are increasing. 

On defense, sophomore Thomas Decottignies is back in action and accompanied by freshmen Bjorn Nikolajewski (one assist) and Guillame Vactor (one goal) as well as sophomore Josh Morgan. Together, this defensive unit acts like security guards, making sure that nothing gets too close to their goalkeeper and into the back of the net. 

Goalkeeper Jahmali Waite is a reasonably steady brick wall. His two saves from Wednesday’s clean sheet puts him up to 30 on the season while allowing just nine goals. With some of the saves he has been making, the ranked opposition is going to have a hard time getting anything past him.  

That ranked opponent is the No. 16 Providence Friars (8-2-3, 4-1-2 Big East), who followed their monumental upset win against Georgetown with a 2-1 loss to the Butler Bulldogs on Oct. 16. 

One of the reasons Providence is ranked is due to the incredible talents of the Big East’s version of US Men’s national team star Christian Pusilic, Brendan McSorely. McSorely has been dominant all season as his six goals are tied for second in the conference with Marquette’s Lukas Sunesson and Xavier’s Karsen Henderlong. 

Up front, he is also joined by sophomore Gevork Diarbian, who has two goals and four assists to his name, as well as a team-leading 28 shots. Together, these two sophomores leave the defense in the dust and with more questions than answers. If the Huskies want to have a fighting chance, they need to shut these two down. 

Providence also has a strong midfield. Like the forward position, juniors Lucas Garcia (four assists) and Paulo Lima (two assists) have been a dynamic duo that defenses must keep their eye on. Both studs have four goals each and know how to attack from point-blank range. If you aren’t shutting down one duo, it’s because you’re focusing on the other.  

Graduate student Davis Smith (four goals and four assists) is another name to look out for because he knows how to contribute and can sneak in a nasty goal or two when the defense is not looking. Even with him out of the picture, the priority belongs to the two juniors. 

Graduate student Simon Triantafillou (one goal and four assists) and senior Christopher Roman (two goals and three assists) have also been huge contributors to a great midfield group. The main focus of this match easily belongs to the midfield. Whoever can better use their balance of offense and defense is going to win the game. 

On defense, graduate student Malcolm Duncan, freshman Cole Dewhurst, junior Adam Riis and senior Miguel Candela (one goal and one assist) have reliably kept the back of the field free of any stray balls that may want to find the net. Their defense was a key reason why they were able to shut out Georgetown. 

The other half of that reason belongs to sophomore goaltender Lukas Burns. Burns has been amazing thus far, allowing 13 goals while making 40 fabulous saves. No matter what save he is making, Burns knows how to get the job done and will look to quiet a warm and energetic Husky offense. 

UConn has dominated the all-time series and will look to even up their record against Rhode Island Saturday at 7 p.m. The game can be viewed via FloSports with live stats provided by StatBroadcast. 

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