The UConn men’s soccer team will look to continue their winning ways when they welcome the New Jersey Institute Highlanders to Storrs for a Friday night matchup at Morrone Stadium.
The Huskies (1-1-0) won their first contest of the young season when they defeated Holy Cross in a 2-0 routing last Sunday. Forwards Moussa Wade and Frantz Pierrot provided UConn’s offense as they were responsible for the game’s lone scores, both their first scores of the season. A major factor in the shutout victory that UConn hopes will carry over into their next game was the team’s ability to dominate possession of the ball, leaving Holy Cross with few opportunities to fight back as the night wore on. Goalkeeper Jayden Hibbert had an easy night protecting the net, as he didn’t allow a goal on either of Holy Cross’s shots and recorded a save in the process. Overall, the Huskies attempted 10 more shots than Holy Cross (12 to two) in what proved to be a convincing victory. The win was also the first for Chris Gbandi in his inaugural season as UConn’s head coach.
Arriving in Storrs to challenge the Huskies will be the NJIT Highlanders. Also coming into Friday having just recorded their first victory of the season, NJIT (1-0-1) is helmed by head coach Fernando Barboto in his seventh season as the Highlander’s skipper. Being led by team captains Samuel Reisgys and Gonçalo Franco, NJIT was able to defeat James Madison University on Sunday with a narrow 1-0 margin. Sophomore Asembo Augo recorded the team’s only goal when he headed in the ball coming off of a free kick during the 51st minute of action, his second goal through two games. Reisgys was able to preserve the shutout as he contributed four saves in the contest as his team’s goalkeeper.
NJIT freshman Maximus Barboto was named America East Conference Rookie of the Week for his outstanding play during the first week of the season, the conference office announced on Monday morning. Barboto, who joined the Highlanders in January 2022, recorded his first collegiate assist of his young career when his free kick was knocked in by teammate Augo during the second half of Sunday’s winning effort. The award is the first America East weekly honor of Barboto’s career and is also NJIT’s first Rookie of the Week award and the fifth overall honor for the program since joining the America East in July 2020. While the Highlanders have been more than happy with the performance of their budding freshman, the Huskies’ defense will need to be on their toes to keep guys like Barboto at bay on Friday night.
This will be the first time that UConn and NJIT meet in either program’s history. Both teams finished last season near the bottom of their respective conferences, so each will try to take advantage of the other in this out-of-conference matchup. Despite finishing just 2-6-2 in conference play last season, the Huskies managed a combined record of 5-1-0 in all of their other games, an indication that they’ve stepped up their performance against opponents from other conferences. NJIT, on the other hand, went 3-5 when playing in-conference last season but finished the year with a combined 1-6-1 mark in all other games, suggesting that they’ve failed to take advantage of their out-of-conference opponents. UConn will hope to continue this trend as they enter their match with home-field advantage and the support of Husky Nation, who showed up on Sunday for what was ultimately a sold-out crowd to witness the team’s first win. Kick-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST.