Following what was an ugly 5-0 loss at the hands of No. 15 Syracuse on Monday, the UConn men’s soccer team will look to resume their winning ways when they take on the Rams of the University of Rhode Island in the team’s first away matchup of the season this Saturday.
Much like the rainy weather conditions of their last game, the Huskies (2-2-1) displayed a murky and slobby brand of soccer when they were defeated by the Orange earlier this week. Though both UConn and Syracuse each had their own opportunities to score and possess the ball (the Huskies actually finished the game with more attempted shots than Syracuse and had the higher time of possession), it was the Orange who had the better chances at the net. Syracuse opened the scoring in the 15th minute and added two more goals in the 29th and 32nd minutes to head into the half up 3-0.
UConn had their best scoring opportunity foiled in the 51st minute when sophomore Mateo Leveque missed a shot, which hit the post and ricocheted to Okem Chime who was there to put the ball in on the rebound before an offsides call washed the potential goal. Tempers flared in the 73rd minute when an altercation took place near the Orange sideline and players had to be separated, resulting in UConn’s Christos Charalambous receiving a red card and forcing the Huskies to play down a player for the final 17 minutes. Utilizing their time with the extra player, Syracuse scored their fourth and fifth goals of the night in the 73rd and 77th minutes, all but squandering any hope that UConn had for a comeback. Over the course of the contest, the Huskies outshot the Orange 17-11 though they could not capitalize on any opportunities all night.
An interesting development to keep tabs on before the contest will be the availability of UConn’s Moussa Wade. Wade, the Huskies’ leading scorer through five games, did not make an appearance in the game against Syracuse. Wade went down with a non-contact injury celebrating his own goal early in a game against NJIT last Friday night and has not seen the field since.
The unbeaten Rams (1-0-3) are coming off their second consecutive tie following a 1-1 final against Providence College on Tuesday. Sophomore Patrick Gryczewski gave URI an early lead in the 12th minute when he scorched a free kick that the Friars’ goalkeeper was unable to hold on to. Providence responded in the 28th minute, when Gevork Diarbian evaded four Rhode Island defenders and drilled his shot inside the right post. Neither team was able to secure the ball into their opponent’s net following for the remainder of the contest, though the Rams were able to fend off late attempts by Providence to keep the score knotted at one apiece. On the night, URI was outshot by Providence 10-5, but it was the Rams defense that wouldn’t allow their opponent to claim the lead.
Through five games, UConn has proven that they are capable of dominating possession of the ball, though they haven’t been able to capitalize on their scoring opportunities when those opportunities have arisen. If the Huskies hope to visit URI and leave with a victory, they will need to attack early and often. The Rams are another team that has a track record of dominating the ball, so UConn will need to secure points when they can. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Saturday night in Kingston, Rhode Island.