Coming off two ranked losses to Vermont and Georgetown, UConn looked to right the ship against Division II school Assumption on Tuesday night. Most of the Husky’s starters started the game on the bench with Coach Gbandi hoping he wouldn’t have to bring them in, however, that was not the case.
In the first half of the game, UConn went on to outshoot the Greyhounds 12 to 3 including 5 total shots on goal. But like most of the season, the Huskies weren’t able to get their shots to translate into goals. Assumption keeper Francisco Teixeira had an outstanding performance against the Huskies, and it can be seen with his five first-half saves. Despite not playing the starters, UConn’s bench was able to apply the same pressure and attacked the Greyhounds defense, but they stayed strong.
Right before halftime, freshman Lucas Almeida went down with an apparent ankle injury and should be something Huskies fans keep an eye out for. Almeida had three goals for Connecticut and was a vital part of the offensive scheme at the start of the season.
Heading into the break, the teams remained tied. The even score made it look as if Assumption could steal this game from UConn, and they came pretty close.
Still tied in the 69th minute of the match, the Greyhounds marched down the field in one of their few offensive advances of the game. Senior Vegard Pernes sent a pass in front of the net to teammate Sam Cardoza, who fired the ball into the hands of backup goalie Clayton Knibbs. The keeper wasn’t able to come down with the ball, allowing Daniel Paulsson the easy chip in shot to give Assumption a 1-0 lead.
Now behind the Greyhounds, the goal forced Coach Gbandi to bring in all of his starters. It was a tall ask of his team to score an equalizer and potentially a go-ahead goal with just 21 minutes to play, but the team seemed up for the task.
Even though the bench had started putting pressure on Assumption, you could tell that something had shifted. UConn, who has had to come back in plenty games this season, pressed a full-scale offensive attack to at least walk away with a tie.
UConn’s starters got their first chance on a shot by Scott Testori. In the 72nd minute, the junior from Madison, Connecticut fired a bullet to the near post but could not get it past Teixeira.
Later on, in minute 80, sophomore Eli Conway set up for a header but hit it too lightly, landing in the hands of Teixeria for his tenth save of the night.
Just as the fortunes for the Huskies started to look bleak, a penalty in the box granted Adil Iggoute a penalty shot in the 81st minute. Even with goalie Francisco Teixeira guessing the right way, Iggoute buried the ball into the lower left corner of the net for the equalizing goal. It was his third goal of the season, his first since UConn took on Manhattan almost exactly a month ago.
With less than ten minutes to go, it was UConn that was beginning to feel the pressure. Assumption played most of their men back, flooding any move UConn was trying to make as it was fairly obvious, they were happy to take the tie. In the end, Assumptions defense prevented any more scoring from the Huskies and went home having tied the UConn Huskies.
Here’s what head coach Chris Gbandi had to say after the conclusion of last night’s game: “[We] gave some guys the opportunity to play, and it was a lot of our guys who haven’t played, and Assumption did a great job neutralizing some of the things we like to do.”
This leaves just four games left on the UConn schedule, all of which are Big East games. Their next game comes against Marquette back home again in Storrs. The Golden Eagles come in well rested, having played last Saturday against the Xavier Musketeers. Overall, Marquette has played solidly with a record of 7-4-1 on the year, but conference play is where they really have struggled. In Big East games thus far, Marquette is 1-3 with losses to Creighton, St. John’s and Xavier. Their lone win was against Butler on the road at the end of September.
Saturday’s game against Marquette will be played at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium at 7 p.m. but can also be streamed on FloSports.