Following a 0-0 draw against the St. John’s Red Storm that earned the team a pivotal point in Big East play on Saturday, the University of Connecticut men’s soccer team will hope to secure a position in this year’s conference tournament when they host the formidable Georgetown Hoyas on Wednesday for the regular season finale.
The Huskies, with a conference record of 3-3-3, have accumulated 12 points this season, good enough for sixth in the Big East. Had the season ended now, Connecticut would make the Big East tournament as the sixth and final team. The team can clinch a tournament spot and can reach as high as fourth in the conference, or miss the tournament entirely, depending on the scenario that plays out on Wednesday. The scenarios in which the Huskies would either make the tournament or miss it has been listed by the UConn Athletic Department.
Despite the outcome of their conference tournament fate still hanging over their heads, Connecticut can’t help but feel that their rebound from their early-season struggles were a highlight of this season. After starters Moussa Wade and Thomas Decottignies were lost for the season due to injuries, the Huskies found themselves unable to take advantage of many of their opportunities on offense and always seemed to be on the wrong side of a tightly knit battle. As a result, UConn was amongst the bottom of the Big East for much of the season.
However, as time would have it, Connecticut put together their best stretch of games during the month of October, a month in which the team went 5-2-2 and earned 11 points in the conference to catapult them to a tournament position.
In the first half of their most recent contest against the Red Storm, UConn managed to hold their opponent to only one shot attempt, but were unable to convert on any of their looks around the goal. 14 minutes into the start of the second half, captain Guillaume Vacter made a beautiful chase down on a breakaway attempt by the St. John offense, pushing the ball out of bounds before the team could line up a good shot. The Red Storm managed to connect on a shot with 11 minutes remaining in the contest, though an offsides ruling negated the score. Three minutes later, junior Jayden Reid placed an impeccable cross pass to the front of St. John’s goal to teammate Scott Testori, whose header was secured by the Red Storm goalie in what proved to be the final true chance that either team had to score before the match concluded. With the scoreless tie, the Huskies were able to tally a pivotal point in their search for a conference tournament berth.
“I thought that we did well. Anytime that you’re on the road and can get a point against a tough [and] physical St. John’s team, I think that you’ll take it,” head coach Chris Gbandi said following the draw. “Our guys had the right mentality. We came out here and we competed … I’m very proud of them. We still have an opportunity to make the conference tournament, and I think that’s all that we can [hope] for.”
Statistically, the Husky offense has been led this season by Franz Pierrot. After going on a scoring-slump for failing to register a goal in seven straight contests, Pierrot was finally able to break through with two scores as he carved out the Stonehill Skyhawks in their match last Wednesday.
His first goal came early in the first half when Pierrot was able to secure a deflection off of the Stonehill goalie to pin his fourth goal of the season, giving Connecticut the early 1-0 advantage. He would respond in the 37th minute of action with another score, this time as he received a pass down the right sideline and used a single touch to maneuver past the Skyhawks goalie, rifling the shot into the back of the net to up UConn’s lead to 2-0.
On the season, the Merrimack college transfer leads the Huskies in points (12), goals (five), shots (42) and shots on goal (18). He has also recorded two assists this year.
No. 24 Georgetown (9-4-3) has been the powerhouse program in the Big East once again, as the team clinched the top seed in the upcoming conference tournament for the fourth straight year and has subsequently been awarded the regular season title. With a 7-1-1 record in Big East play, the Hoyas have trounced their conference peers all season.
Following a 1-4-2 start to their season, Georgetown has yet to lose another game, going 8-0-1 in the process. Simultaneously, the team has marked itself as the clear top point-scorer in the conference, as their 22 points are five ahead of No. 2 Seton Hall and eight better than both Butler and Xavier.
The team can credit their performance to the all-around effort that they’ve received from its roster; a whopping seven Hoyas have managed to record five points or more during play this season. The team’s top scorer, junior Marlon Tabora, has amassed 16 points on five goals and six assists.
Junior goalkeeper Ryan Schewe and sophomore midfielder Blaine Mabie were both named to the Big East Weekly Honor Roll on Monday for the Hoyas. It was the second-career honor roll award for Schewe and the first for Mabie.
Schewe, a native of Mariette, Ga., posted a shutout victory in net for the Hoyas during Saturday’s conference-clinching effort. Overall, he made three saves in the 1-0 win over Marquette. In eight conference games, Schewe leads the Big East with a 0.838 save percentage, ranks third in saves per game (4.43) and sits in second in goals-against average (0.86). Overall, he has a 0.63 goals against average in nine games played and his 0.867 save percentage places him third in the nation. This was Schewe’s second nod to the honor roll after earning both national and conference Player of the Week honors last week.
Mabie, hailing from Winnetka, Ill., notched the match-winning goal early in the first half against Marquette. He has two goals on the season and has appeared in all 16 games with 12 starts to his credit. This is Mabie’s first-career award and the fourth for the Hoyas this season.
As this Wednesday will be the regular season finale for the Huskies, it will also be the final time that this year’s senior class takes the pitch as a unit. Connecticut will honor ten seniors prior to the match – student manager Eric Oates, as well as players Aiden Cavanaugh, Christos Charalambous, Thomas Decottignies, Kai Griese, Owen Guglielmino, Josh Morgan, Frantz Pierrot, Jayden Reid, Michael Stone and Moussa Wade.
Kick-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Ray Reid Field at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium in Storrs, Conn. The game can be streamed online using FloSports, with live updates provided by StatBroadcast.