Despite not winning a game since September 2 against NJIT, the UConn men’s soccer team is set for one of the toughest tests of their young season – a road matchup against the No. 18 Xavier Musketeers this Saturday night.
The Huskies (2-4-1, 0-1-1 Big East) are in the midst of a cold streak, having gone 1-3-1 in the month of September, falling to the likes of now-No. 8 Syracuse, Rhode Island, and Butler. A come-from-behind tie on the road against Creighton thanks to a Frantz Pierrot goal in the 20th minute looked to provide some momentum for this Connecticut squad, but the Huskies looked completely outmatched in their 4-1 blowout loss to Butler this past Saturday.
Projected to finish eighth in the Big East, the Huskies currently sit dead last just two games into the conference slate. With plenty of season ahead, the Huskies are ready to shake off their slow start.
The Huskies are led by former Big East Freshman of the Year Mateo Leveque, whose seven points top all other teammates. The sophomore has seen the most success in the passing game, racking up four assists, a team-high mark. His 15 shots and seven shots on target both rank second on the team, but he only has one goal to show for his efforts. Given his numerous solid opportunities in each game, the scoring seems like only a matter of time for the young star.
Leading the team in goals this year is striker Pierrot, who is riding a two-game scoring streak heading into Saturday. The graduate student has taken a whopping 26 shots this year and seems to be getting into a groove offensively, connecting with freshman Eli Conway on a nice give-and-go for the team’s only goal in the loss to Butler. Pierrot hopes to continue to provide for this offense this weekend in Ohio.
The injury bug has seemingly hit this UConn team hard this season, with key players Moussa Wade and Thomas Decottignies falling earlier this year. Wade, the team’s top scorer at the time, was injured after scoring a goal in the win over NJIT. Decottignies, anchoring the defense, hasn’t played a game since Connecticut’s loss to Rhode Island.
The Musketeers (6-0-3, 0-0-2 Big East) have yet to lose a game this year, taking down squads like Virginia, Memphis and Robert Morris. Their two conference draws against Seton Hall and Marquette put them currently in a tie for fifth place. Initially projected to finish dead last in the conference this offseason, Xavier has outperformed all expectations to this point, and hope to prove the doubters wrong yet again on Saturday night.
One player on the Musketeers to look out for is senior defender/midfielder Makel Rasheed. Named to this past week’s Big East Honor Roll, Rasheed played all 90 minutes in both games on the back line for Xavier. He helped the team to yet another shutout on Saturday against Marquette after flashing his attacking skills on Tuesday, scoring two goals in the team’s 3-1 victory over Evansville. Rasheed looks to continue to be a dual-threat piece for this Musketeers squad heading into their home clash with UConn.
One of Xavier’s biggest keys to success this year has been their defense. In fact, the team is tied for 15th in all of Division I soccer in shutouts, thanks to stellar play from the back line and goalkeeper Cole Jensen’s 86.1 save percentage facing 36 shots on target. Jensen ranks eighth in the country in save percentage, and looks to improve upon that mark against this Husky offense that hasn’t had much scoring lately.
Kick-off is set for 7 p.m. at Corcoran Field in Cincinnati, Ohio. The game will be broadcast on FloSports with stats provided by StatBroadcast.