Fresh off a dominant victory against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, the University of Connecticut men’s soccer team took on the Xavier Musketeers in their final home game of the season, looking to close out their home slate with a victory to stay alive in the Big East playoff discussion.
The offense was as consistent as the rain pouring down on the turf, but it was Xavier who would draw first blood. In the fifth minute, Bryce Curran was able to find the back of the net as he finished off a great pass that stayed inbounds. The shot trickled past Huskies’ goaltender Jahmali Waite for Curran’s first goal of the season and gave the Musketeers an early 1-0 advantage.
Neither the rain nor conceded goal could damper the game of senior night soccer. After a shot by Xavier’s Taylor Rhinehart got saved, the Huskies brought the offensive pressure that would make this game a shootout. In the tenth minute, Ben Awashie had a chance to pick up his fourth goal in six games after a great pass from Kai Griese, but Matthew Rosenberg came up with the save.
Following a series of fouls by both teams, Moussa Wade was able to contribute yet another shot for the Husky offense, but his shot was also saved by Rosenberg. Not even a minute later, Okem Chime had an incredible breakaway opportunity, but neither he nor Wade were able to get a shot off on the slippery turf.
Xavier almost doubled the lead in the 28th minute of the contest as they were able to put one behind the net following a shot from Karsen Henderlong, but it was disallowed because Xavier was offsides.
The Husky offense would use that to their advantage as Chime, Wade and Jayden Reid all got some great chances over a seven-minute span, but all of them came up just short. The best chance came from Mateo Leveque. His shot managed to get past everyone, but it hit the post and stayed in play. Awashie followed suit with a shot of his own, but it missed just to the right.
Finally, after 40 minutes of trying to find the equalizer, Thomas Decottignies delivered. Following a corner kick, Decottignies sent a shot off of an Xavier defender and into the back of the net. The equalizer, albeit an own goal, was his second in as many games and knotted the contest at one apiece.
The second half started a little slower than the first. Both teams adapted to a more physical style of play to start, but once Maxwel De-Bodene took a shot in the 51st minute, both teams went on the offensive attack. Leveque had a great chance less than a minute later, but his shot came up just short.
Xavier, who was outshot 10-4 in the first half, came up with four shots in the span of six minutes to show that they had made halftime adjustments. First, Rhinehart got off a shot from the corner that barely went over the top of the net, before Henderlong sent a screamer from around midfield, but that just missed the net as well. In the 61st minute, Rhinehart would get a shot that would get deflected to a corner kick, which turned into a shot by Payton Miller that trickled out of play.
De-Bodene would get another opportunity in the 62nd minute to get his first goal of the season, but he missed just a bit to the left, causing several groans through the crowd huddled under the roof of the Rizza Performance Center.
In the 67th minute, Henderlong maneuvered around the defense and sunk his shot into the net to give the Musketeers the lead once again. It was Henderlong’s eighth goal of the season and puts him in sole possession of second place behind Creighton’s Diego Gutierrez.
Ten minutes later, Decottignies tried to go for the brace by sending a shot off the bottom right edge, but Rosenberg was able to make the save easily and Xavier would continue to have that one-goal lead. Miller wanted to add insurance for the Musketeers, but his shot went over the top.
In the 81st minute, Curran had another chance to pick up the brace goal and put this game away, but like most of the Musketeer shots, it came up just short. Leveque would up the ante in the 87th minute as he got a great shot up front, but Rosenberg came up with the save.
The Huskies brought their most intense pressure into the final three minutes and nearly sent this game into overtime as Dominic Laws sent up a prayer header with five seconds left, but it just went over the net and Xavier would hold on for a 2-1 victory.
Waite had an outstanding final home game as he made two saves while keeping the Huskies in this contest for the entire match. I would also like to thank recognized seniors Dominic Laws, captain Felix Metzler, captain Ahdan Tait, Sean Martin, Djimon Johnson, Gianluca Catalano
, and Sosa Emovon for their contributions during their time at the University of Connecticut.
The Musketeers (9-7-0, 3-6-0 Big East) cannot make the Big East tournament and will wrap up their season against DePaul (7-7-2, 3-4-2 Big East) on Nov. 3. DePaul (11 points) is looking to clinch a spot in the postseason with a victory and losses by either Creighton (13 points), Butler (13 points) or Villanova (13 points).
The Huskies (7-6-2, 2-5-2 Big East) wrap up their regular season schedule with a trip to Washington, D.C., where they will take on the No. 1 Georgetown Hoyas on Wednesday, Nov. 3. With a win, Georgetown wins the regular season conference title, but a Husky win gives No. 18 Providence the chance to win it. The game can be accessed via FloSports with live stats provided by StatBroadcast.