It may have been Jonathan XVI’s birthday on Wednesday, but the night’s walk-off win against Providence for the UConn men’s soccer team marked a different birth – one of a brand new season for the Huskies. They look to build upon their latest victory this Saturday night, taking on the Seton Hall Pirates at home.
Connecticut (3-5-1, 1-2-1 Big East) has had a slow start to the year, winning a couple of early games before going on a winless streak of over a month, which was snapped on Wednesday. The only real bright spot over that span was a 1-1 road loss to Creighton. Injuries have played a legitimate factor, with key pieces like forward Moussa Wade and defenseman Thomas Decottignies likely out for the season. This Huskies squad is very young, and head coach Chris Gbandi has had no problem rotating guys on and off the pitch to see what works best for his team. With players stepping up as of late, it looks like the chemistry is starting to come together and some results are likely soon to follow.
One of those players finding himself in the starting XI is goalkeeper Michael Stone. The graduate student took over for freshman Jayden Hibbert after four games, and has started the last five for UConn. In his last performance, he battled against a tough PC team and the rain, allowing two goals and making a save.
While sophomore Mateo Leveque dazzled on Wednesday, notching a goal and an assist, it was the Scott Testori show, as the fellow second-year had the game-winning goal for the Huskies to cap off a 3-2 win over the Friars. Testori was only in the game for just 13 minutes, but he sure took advantage of his opportunities. Look for him to do more of the same against the Pirates.
Frantz Pierrot, the team’s top scorer, had a rough night in the rain. The Melrose, Massachusetts native added no shots to his team-leading season total and committed four fouls, including one that earned him a card. Credit is well deserved for the Providence defense, who was able to contain and even frustrate the attacking threat. He looks to have a rebound performance on Saturday night.
Seton Hall (4-1-5, 1-0-3 Big East) has had quite the opposite season compared to UConn. Coming into this contest, the Pirates haven’t lost a game since Sept. 5 against Portland, their only loss of the season. They have tied exactly half of their games, but have picked up quality wins over teams like then-No. 10 Oregon State on the road and St. John’s. Projected to finish 10th overall in the conference this preseason, Seton Hall currently sits in a tie for third thanks to a great start to the year.
The Pirates are coming off of a tie to DePaul this Wednesday, peppering the Blue Demons with 20 total shots over 90 minutes but not converting a single one in the 0-0 draw. This is the first time since 2003 that Seton Hall is undefeated in their first four Big East matchups, and their five overall ties matches a program record.
Leading Seton Hall in scoring this year is junior Quenzi Huerman. The Palm Beach Atlantic transfer has started in each of the team’s games, averaging 79 minutes a contest. Huerman is totaling team-highs with five goals, three assists, 13 points and 22 shots taken. He hasn’t scored in the last two games, which matches his longest drought of the season. Look for him to try to snap that streak this weekend.
One Pirate to look out for this weekend is forward Andrea Borg. The senior was integral in the team’s 2-1 win over St. John’s last week, having a role in each of the team’s goals. Borg sent in a cross that was deflected for an own goal, and his strike in the 85th minute of the contest put Seton Hall up for good, clinching their fourth win of the season. For his effort, Borg was named one of last week’s Big East Honor Roll members.
Kickoff is set for Saturday night at 8 p.m. at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium at Rizza Performance Center. The game will be broadcast live by FloSports with stats provided by StatBroadcast.