Sometimes, it’s all about making the most of your opportunities.
Despite 11 more shots than their opponent, the UConn men’s soccer team couldn’t get it done on Saturday night, falling to the University of Rhode Island by a score of 3-1. Besides controlling the number of shots, Connecticut led with six shots on target to the Rams’ four and dominated possession.
“I think it’s another tough one for us. It’s a game where I thought we probably deserved a little bit more,” said Huskies head coach Chris Gbandi. “To outshoot a team 15-4 and not find a way to win the game is disappointing. I think the effort’s there, the determination is there and if they keep giving that to us the whole season I think we’ll be okay.”
UConn was fired up from the jump, totaling three shots within the first eight minutes, making their presence known to the Rhody back line. It was just nine minutes into the contest when the Rams broke the game open, as Isak Oystese placed a hard ground ball just inside the far post to put URI up 1-0. The Rams did a great job working quickly and efficiently on the counterattack to take the lead.
While the Huskies had their opportunities, including a solid strike from star midfielder Mateo Leveque in the 22nd minute, it was URI who extended their lead. Patrick Agyemang placed a ball in the far post from almost the exact spot as Oystese did, on a similar counterattack. The UConn back line got exposed yet again, digging the Huskies into a deeper hole.
After the second goal, the UConn offense came alive. After Frantz Pierrot drew a foul deep into Rhody territory, Leveque sent in a cross on a platter for Soren Ilsoe, who headed home his second goal of the season to cut the deficit to 2-1 before the second half.
The second half of the game was dominated by UConn in every sense but the score. The Huskies were able to put up six shots over the 45-minute span, but the only goal came by way of URI’s sole shot of the half. With all hands on deck for a last minute offensive attack, the Rams broke away on a one-on-one counterattack to put the nail in the coffin on the 3-1 Huskies loss.
All in all, it came down to opportunities. The Rams were ultra-efficient, putting all four of their shots on target, knocking in three of them. The Huskies shot the ball 15 times, but only put six on goal and scored once.
Gbandi switched up the goalkeepers in this match, swapping out freshman Jayden Hibbert for graduate student Michael Stone. Stone finished the game with one save and three goals allowed, and who will start in net next game remains to be seen.
One notable absence was once again striker Moussa Wade, who went down with a non-contact injury last week. He led the team in goals at the time of his injury, and the Huskies could surely use that extra spark as they’ve been struggling to find the back of the net. Since outscoring Holy Cross and NJIT 5-1, they’ve been outscored 8-1 in their last two contests, despite taking more combined shots and shots on target.
We’re just going through a bad run right now, as a group we need to figure out how to get out of this rut. It’s a tough one, but I think the group played hard,” said Gbandi.
This loss puts URI just a little closer in the all-time series, with the Huskies leading 9-2, having gone an undefeated 9-0 from 1987 to 2019. The Rams are enjoying a two-game winning streak over their New England foe with this victory, having previously won a nailbiter at the beginning of last season.
With the loss, UConn drops to 2-3-0 as they fall into a two-game losing streak. They look to rebound this Saturday, when they take on Creighton University on the road. Kick-off is set for 6:30 p.m. in Omaha, Nebraska. The game will be broadcast on FloSports.