The University of Connecticut men’s soccer team, given one extra day of preparation due to Tuesday’s nor’easter, took on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in their first clash against them since 2013.
The first 10 minutes of the game were spent planning out strategies. Neither team took many shots on goals and when they did, the goaltenders were able to shoot their plans down like archers standing on top of castle walls.
The next 10 minutes saw the spiciest offensive sequences that one has witnessed this entire season.
In the 14th minute, Rutgers’ Jackson Temple finished off a great sequence by weaving around the Husky defense and slipping one past UConn goaltender Jahmali Waite to give the Scarlet Knights the early 1-0 advantage.
Not even a minute later, the Husky offense roared back to life; Okem Chime made a spectacular pass to keep the ball in play and sent it across the box while causing a few Rutgers defenders to slip and slide. Right there was Jayden Reid to take the shot and, as he was getting clipped from behind, sunk the equalizer past Rutgers goaltender Oren Asher for his third goal of the season.
But the deadlock would only last two minutes as Temple capitalized on a great offensive opportunity from Pablo Avila. Temple once again weaved through the defense like it was a sweater and flawlessly hooked his second goal of the game into the net.
The Husky offense would continue to bring the heat as they collected three shots in a six-minute span, desperately looking for the equalizer that was not there against Providence. That long-awaited equalizer would come to fruition at the 35th minute.
Dominic Laws picked up his second goal of the season on a shot into the top left-hand corner of the net after a pass from Moussa Wade. Now tied at two, the Huskies had all the momentum they needed to try and have a lead in the first half.
Prior to the end of the first half, Maxwel De-Bodene had another chance to pick up his first goal of the season, but his shot just missed the back of the net. It had been a well-balanced duel thus far, Rutgers had two goals on two shots while UConn had taken six shots. The second half was going to determine who would walk away as the victor.
Laws had a chance to pick up the brace in the 50th minute, but his shot came up just short. Not to worry though, the Husky offense would finally pick up the lead they had been looking for all night, not even 30 seconds after that.
Thomas Decottignies weaved his way around Rutgers’ defense and got a shot off in what appeared to be triple coverage inside the penalty box. His attempted shot successfully fooled the goaltender and not only gave UConn the 3-2 lead, Decottignies also had his first career goal in the process. This is a goal that he will remember for a long time.
The next 10 minutes were spent playing a defensive game. Not many shots on goal were taken and both teams took their time controlling possession of the game ball. In the 62nd minute, things started to favor the Husky offense once again.
Wade was awarded a free kick at the start of the minute and as the seconds of the minute were waning, he was running with a shot on goal in mind. It is very possible that Asher could have saved Wade’s shot had he taken the shot.
Note that I said had here. Instead of taking the shot, Wade forced a defender to stumble, then passed backward to Mateo Leveque, who had a wide-open shot that very easily got into the net. Leveque’s beautiful third goal of the year gave the Huskies some major insurance as Wade picked up his fifth assist in the process.
The Huskies wanted to add one more over the next six minutes of gameplay, but shots by Wade, Leveque and Chime came up just short. In the 79th minute, Rutgers had their next best chance of the game as Gabriel Addo had a shot on goal. But instead of collecting a goal, the shot was blocked by the Husky defense.
In the 83rd minute, Djimon Johnson joined in on the offensive fray when he successfully got a shot off, but his shot missed to the right. Except for a shot by Chime in the 87th minute, the rest of the game was a physical battle by both teams. Rutgers picked up more yellow cards in the process as they were willing to be as physical as possible if it meant getting another opportunity to score.
The Huskies would hold on and take the 4-2 victory, improving their home record to 6-2-2 while going 5-1-0 in non-conference play. Waite came up clutch yet again, picking up the win while leading his team to yet another victory. Meanwhile, Rutgers’ Asher picked up five saves while conceding four goals.
Rutgers (8-5-2, 2-4-1 Big Ten) wraps up their regular season when they host Ohio State on Saturday.
The Huskies (7-5-2, 2-4-2 Big East) wrap up their home schedule on Saturday, Oct. 30, when they take on the Xavier Musketeers from Joseph J. Morrone Stadium. The senior night game can be streamed via FloSports with live stats provided by StatBroadcast.