The UConn men’s soccer team tied the Creighton Bluejays, 1-1, following a delay that forced the game to be postponed from its original Saturday slate to Sunday.
Play commenced on Saturday evening from Morrison Stadium in Omaha, Nebraska. The two teams got off to a chippy start, as four fouls were called between the two teams within the first five minutes of action. It was Creighton who got off to the early 1-0 advantage at 7:16 with a goal from sophomore Owen O’Malley, who dribbled the ball to the top of the 18 where he was met by multiple UConn defenders. Despite the pressure, O’Malley was able to thread his shot between the Husky’s line of defense and just out of reach of goalkeeper Michael Stone into the bottom right of the net for the score. UConn had a chance to match the score when they applied pressure on Creighton in the ninth minute, though an offsides call nullified the rally. It was the last major play before lightning around Morrison Stadium forced the game to be delayed and eventually postponed.
Play resumed at 7:30 EST on Sunday, picking up from the 12:59 mark. The two teams exchanged possessions until two fouls were called on the Huskies in the 19th and 20th minutes, though Creighton could not convert either of their subsequent free kicks. The Husky offense finally broke through in the 20th minute when multiple UConn forwards were able to squeeze through the Bluejay defense for an open look in front of the net. Freshman Pierce Bateson placed a through ball to sophomore Scott Testori, which forced the Creighton goalkeeper to step up and defend their initial shot. He was able to deflect Testori’s shot, but UConn graduate student Pierrot knocked the rebound into the wide-open goal to knot the score at one apiece. The goal was the second of the season for Pierrot and Testori was credited with an assist on the play. Both teams exchanged quality looks for the remainder of the half, including a major save in the 25th minute by Stone to keep the score tied at the half.
Neither team could get much momentum going to start the second half, as the two teams exchanged possessions around midfield. The Huskies had another scoring opportunity in the 59th minute when sophomore Mateo Leveque placed a risky free kick inside the 18, though Pierrot whiffed the shot and the ball went out of bounds. In the 69th minute, freshman Eli Conway had field to work with as he broke away to lead a two versus one fastbreak, but his pass to his open teammate Okem Chime in front of goal was errant and the ball was once again turned over to the Bluejays. Both teams had chances to win the game in the final two minutes of the match. Creighton won a free kick in the 89th minute just outside of UConn’s penalty box, though Stone once again came up with another save to prevent the score. The Huskies then won a free kick in the 90th minute, where Leveque swung in another dangerous ball that was headed just over the Bluejays crossbar by Testori.
Both the Huskies and the Bluejays attempted a total of three shots each in the second half of action, with Creighton narrowly outpacing UConn in total shots 10-9. Stone recorded three saves over the duration of the match, one more than Creighton goalkeeper Paul Kruses’ two. A combined 28 fouls were committed by both clubs, with the Huskies committing 13 and the Bluejays committing 15. Creighton dominated corner kicks over the two-day event, collecting seven to only one for UConn. With the draw, the Huskies’ record moves to 2-3-1, while Creighton collects their third tie of the season for a 3-1-3 overall record. The match was the first Big East match for either team, who each now have a 0-0-1 record in conference play.
“I thought the mentality of the group was good,” UConn head coach Chris Gbandi said of his team following the draw. “Creighton is an unbelievable team… I thought [that] we did a good job dealing with them… We got a hard-fought [goal] on the road and now we look forward to the next one.”
The Huskies next test will come back at home where they will take on a conference opponent in the Bryant Bulldogs. Kick-off is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 24 at 7 p.m. from Morrone Stadium and the game can be streamed online at FloFC.com.