The University of Connecticut men’s soccer team wraps up their regular season today as they look to be the third team to upset the No. 1 Georgetown Hoyas.
The Huskies (7-6-2, 2-5-2 Big East) are coming off a brutal 2-1 loss to the Xavier Musketeers and will look to finish their season with 11 points in conference play. In Saturday’s affair, the Husky offense was alive and had winning on their minds throughout the entire match.
Despite the shot being deflected off a Musketeer defender, sophomore Thomas Decottignies was credited with his second goal in as many games and will look to bring all the momentum into a highly contested matchup.
His emergent offense is melding in nicely with the defensive talents of freshmen Bjorn Nikolajewski and Guillaume Vactor. Nikolajewski has three assists and Vactor has one goal, thus giving head coach Ray Reid plenty of offensive options from the back end of the lineup.
Reid also has a plethora of options he can choose from in the midfield. The main contributor has been freshman Mateo Leveque, who has three goals and six assists for a team leading 12 points. Next is sophomore Jayden Reid, who has a productive three goals and five assists. J. Reid has been picking it up a little as of late and will look to make one more big push against elite competition.
Sophomore Ben Awashie (three goals and two assists) has also been hot as of late and will look to end his season on a high note. Reid also has defensive players at his disposal in senior captain Felix Metzler, sophomore Kai Griese and junior captain Ahdan Tait. All of them know how to bring the boom and can cause turnovers in the middle of the pitch.
Up front, the two guys so far have been freshman Okem Chime and sophomore Moussa Wade. Chime has had a strong freshman season with four goals and one assist to bolster his chances of being the Big East Rookie of the Year. Wade, meanwhile, has been a shot machine; in addition to his two goals and six assists, Wade has a team-leading 34 shots and there’s rarely a game in which Wade is not getting a shot off for the Husky offense.
There’s also barely a game in which goaltender Jahmali Waite is not being a big contributor. Waite is averaging .95 goals against a game with 36 saves and five clean sheets. This will be Waite’s biggest challenge yet as he takes on the best of the best.
The Hoyas (13-2-0, 7-2-0 Big East), coming off a 2-1 loss to Marquette, have implications on the line. If they win, they clinch their ninth Big East regular season title; if they lose, they need No. 18 Providence to lose their match against Creighton or the Friars to win the regular season via head-to-head tiebreaker.
Their man offensively has been junior Stefan Stojanovic, who has a whopping seven goals (tied for third with Villanova’s Lyam Mackinnon) and one assist. The transfer from St. Louis is having a monster year and will look to wrap the regular season up in grand style.
Then there’s sophomore Marlon Tabora, who consistently helps Stojanovic get those goals, as he has a goal of his own, and a team leading five assists. To put it simply, he is the setup man that lulls the opposition into a trance and Stojanovic puts them to sleep.
But one also must mention junior Will Sands, who has three goals,
and three assists and brings a very balanced attack to this high-class Hoya squad. Together, these three could be a catastrophe waiting to happen, leaving the opposition with too much to handle.
If that is not enough, they must deal with junior midfielder Dante Polvara. Four goals, four assists, 57 shots, zero lies; he currently ranks second in the Big East behind Mackinnon in shots (he has 59). If you thought dealing with the scoring trio was bad, wait until Polvara brings the heavy cannons from long range.
Senior Zach Riviere is also an offensive machine who currently has three goals and three assists, which combined with his 26 shots, all rank third on the team. He has great talent and should not be ignored when going over defensive planning or he will find the back of the net when you least expect it.
They’re also joined by sophomore Kyle Linhares and junior Aidan Rocha down the middle that not only bring the offensive heat, but know how to bring the defensive beatdown. It may be an offensive show for the Hoyas as they average two goals a game, but it is the defense that puts them in these great positions.
This mainly belongs to sophomore Kenny Nielsen and junior Daniel Wu, who have quietly put up some decent numbers while doing everything in their power to make sure that not one soccer ball is able to find the back of the net (to be fair, .80 goals against a game might count as less than one soccer ball).
To make it very hard for the opposition to find ways to win, the Hoyas run a goaltending tag team that consists of graduate student Ethan Koehler and senior Giannis Nikopolidis. Nikopolidis has played in eight games thus far and has made only 16 saves; the catch here is that he has conceded eight goals and has a GAA of one.
Koehler, meanwhile, has made 18 saves in six games with a GAA of .48 to boot. Both he and Nikopolidis have three shutouts, and both have been dominant defenders throughout the entire season. The Husky offense should keep their shutout totals perfectly balanced, as all things should be.
The highly anticipated contest kicks off at 2:00 p.m. EDT and can be viewed via FloSports. As always, live stats will be provided by StatBroadcast.