The University of Connecticut men’s soccer team, fresh off their last-second Ben Awashie-led goal in New Jersey earlier this week, looked to conclude their mini road trip on a high note against conference rival Providence on Saturday night under the lights.
Similar to past games, the Huskies were locked in a defensive stalemate against the Friars, in a tightly contested Big East affair. Providence had a chance mere minutes into the game, with Simon Triantafilou pressuring the net and Paulo Lima supplementing with an opportunity of his own. UConn and Providence traded shots midway through the first half, with Moussa Wade and Luis Garcia attempting their own for their respective squads. Jayden Reid tallied the first shot on goal for the Huskies on the night, but Providence goalkeeper Lukas Barnes was all over it, keeping UConn off the scoreboard with his first save of the night, pushing the game to half-locked in a scoreless tie.
The offensive fireworks erupted early in the second half. The Friars put pressure on UConn goalkeeper Jahmali Waite, with Garcia breaking through for Providence, breaking the ice as he finished home a Lima and Triantafilou feed in the 55th minute. A minute later, Garcia almost remarkably notched his second goal back-to-back, but Waite was there to keep the Huskies within a goal. Luckily for UConn, Okem Chime was ready for a tie ball game.
Chime, off a feed from Awashie and Bjorn Nikolajewksi, notched the equalizer for UConn in the 68th minute as the road warriors battled back quickly to make this 1-1. However, the Friars did not go down quietly, with Gage Raftery testing Waite again. But, the UConn goalie was able to keep Providence from pulling ahead for the time being. While the Huskies came out on the winning side of a heartbreaking last-minute goal on Wednesday, they weren’t able to win Saturday night, as Providence’s Kevin Vang’s goal in the clutch gave the Friars a lead they would not relinquish, leaving UConn 2-1.
It was complete domination for Providence in the shot battle, especially in the second half. While the Huskies had three shots in the first and just one on the Chime goal in the second half of play, the hosting Friars were a machine, tallying 11 shots in the last 45 minutes and 19 in all. Waite was consistent throughout the night, keeping the Huskies in on a night they were outmatched and forced to play on the defensive the whole night, saving four of the Friars’ shots on goal. UConn was aggressive in their efforts to garner a key road victory, but this aggression did not go in their favor. They recorded 14 fouls on the night to Providence’s three. The proof of the Friars’ plethora of offensive opportunities in the corner kick contest, drawing five corner kicks that would help their case and offensive situation to set them up for their goals.
With three games left to play in their regular season, the Huskies will look to finish strong in the homestretch, coming home to battle out-of-conference opponent Rutgers, welcoming the Scarlet Knights in the first matchup between the teams since 2013 in Morrone. The last two games see UConn returning to conference play to take on Xavier and Georgetown in which the Huskies will look to boost their conference record of 2-4-2, with a 6-5-2 mark on the season overall.