On Saturday, the University of Connecticut men’s soccer team came back from a 2-0 deficit to stun the Marquette Golden Eagles in a thrilling 3-2 victory at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium.
Marquette was the first team to strike and they did so in quick fashion, getting ahead 1-0 just five minutes into the action. It was Jai Hsieh-Bailey who headed home the first score for the Golden Eagles with Edrey Caceres and Ryan Amond assisting on the play.
The away team struck again later in the first half, this time in the 31st minute. Marquette entered a fast break on the Huskies’ side of the field and penetrated the goal box. A few quick passes allowed the Golden Eagles to find the open man, Beto Soto, who kicked in the shot from close range for the score. Abdoul Karim Pare and Noah Madrigal were both credited with assists on the goal.
However, Connecticut went into halftime with regained momentum. Nicolas Tomerius poked a pass into the Marquette goalbox, where Scott Testori received it and crossed the ball into open grass on the other side of the box. Somehow, the ball landed at the feet of a wide open Kieran Chandler, who rifled in the close shot for a score. By the 45th minute, the Huskies had cut the two-score deficit down to one.
The two teams increased the intensity as the second half ensued. According to the UConn webpage, a scuffle broke out by the UConn bench in the 67th minute that resulted in two red cards being shown to each team. For the Huskies, Ayoub Lajhar received a red while on the bench and Brooklyn Merl got a red on the field for Maquette, the latter of which forced the Golden Eagles to play a man down for the remainder of the contest.
The Huskies were quick to capitalize on the player advantage. In the 71st minute, Chandler volleyed a pass into the Marquette goal box for Testori, who came across to head home the equalizing score. It was a huge momentum switch for UConn, who had engaged in the heated exchange with the Eagles just minutes before. Chandler and Guillaume Vacter were credited with assists on the Testori score. In the 73rd minute, Chandler received a red card for denying a Golden Eagles scoring opportunity.
Connecticut took the lead for good in the 81st minute thanks to a Testori game-winner. On the play, Pierce Bateson crossed a pass into the Marquette goalbox, where Testori stepped up to receive the ball and tap in the score off the short hop. For Testori, this was the first multi-score match of his career. The two goals were a much needed breakout for the junior, who had gone pointless in his previous six contests.
Jayden Hibbert made a sprawling save in the UConn goal with just 30 seconds left to cement the single-point win for the home team.
“Scott’s had his opportunity and he’s made the most of it,” Huskies head coach Chris Gbandi said following the win. “The Connecticut kid, on a night that we needed him, stepped up in a big way for us.”
The victory moves the Huskies to 7-5-1 on the campaign, including a 3-2 mark against Big East opponents. Marquette, meanwhile, drops to 7-5-1, now having lost four straight matches. They are 1-4 in the Big East this season.
During the match, UConn outshot the Golden Eagles 29-12, putting seven on goal to the away team’s two. Hibbert made three saves in goal, while Marquette goalie Ludvig Målberg made four saves on the opposite side of the field. Both teams attempted five corner kicks, and the Huskies committed nine fouls to the Eagles’ six.
Up next for Connecticut is an away match against the Providence Friars, another Big East opponent. The two will meet on Wednesday at Chapey Field at Anderson Stadium in Providence, Rhode Island. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Fans can watch the match live with a subscription to FloSports.