The UConn men’s soccer team looks to continue building momentum as the end of the regular season quickly approaches, beginning with an away match against the Providence Friars Wednesday evening.
The Huskies enter the midweek tilt fresh off of a thrilling victory on Saturday against a stout Marquette squad. After finding themselves down 2-0, UConn’s Kieran Chandler scored a goal just before halftime to cut the deficit in half. When the second half commenced, the two sides engaged in a heated exchange that matched the intensity of play. Connecticut used the scuffle as motivation, as Scott Testori drilled home the game-tying goal in the 71st minute. Testori cemented himself as the games’ hero when he scored the game-winner 10 minutes later. The junior was all-business, as he hardly celebrated the two scores and kept his game face on. It was the first two-goal performance for Testori, who was named the Big East Conference Offensive Player of the Week for his effort. Chandler was named the Big East Freshman of the Week following his score versus Marquette.
Providence welcomes the Huskies having just upset No. 5 Georgetown, 1-0. Gevork Diarbian scored off a header in the second half to win the contest for the Friars. According to the Providence Athletics webpage, the last time the Friars upset a top-five team was when they defeated No.1 Georgetown, 3-0, in 2021. The Friars have held their own against elite competition on the campaign, going 1-1-1 against top-five teams, and are now undefeated over their previous four matches. Providence goalkeeper Lukas Burns recorded his fourth consecutive shutout to bring him to five on the season, being named the Big East Goalkeeper of the Week. According to the Big East webpage, “Burns acted as a brick wall for the Friars to keep the [Georgetown] Hoyas off the scoreboard for the first time in 2023. The senior goalkeeper made a season-high six saves in the win.” In addition, Diarbian was named to the weekly conference honor roll for scoring the game-winner against the Hoyas.
Connecticut will travel to Rhode Island having compiled an overall record of 7-5-1 this season. They are 3-2 against Big East teams, giving them nine points in conference play this year. That puts them in second place in the Big East’s East Division behind Georgetown, who has 12 points in conference play. Meanwhile, Providence is 5-4-3 overall this season, including 2-1-2 in the conference. Their eight points in the Big East is tied with St. John’s for third in the East Division, just one point behind the Huskies. Wednesday’s contest could have major implications on the Big East playoff seeding, as a win for UConn would allow the team to open a more-comfortable cushion over the Friars. On the other hand, a Providence win would allow the Friars to catapult Connecticut in the conference standings. In the result of a tie, neither team would jump the other in the standings. With just three games remaining for the Huskies before the start of the Big East tournament, the outcome of each contest holds incredible importance.
History has not been kind to Providence when the team has taken on UConn. From 1987 to the present, the Huskies are 24-7-2 when taking on the Friars. Connecticut was victorious in the last matchup between the two on Oct. 5 2022, narrowly winning thanks to a 3-2 score. UConn has also fared pretty well when taking on the Friars in the state of Rhode Island: the team is 10-4-1 all-time in the city of Providence. Despite history being heavily against them, the Friars have been righting the ship more recently when taking on Connecticut: they are a more-respectable 4-6 in the last 10 contests between the two programs.
One player worth keeping an eye on for UConn will be sophomore Pierce Bateson. Alongside Testori, Bateson has grown to become a focal point of the Connecticut offense. His eight points scored this season are tied with Adil Iggoute for second on the team. From that, he has driven home two goals and assisted four times, the latter ranking second on the Huskies. Bateson assisted on one of the goals scored against Marquette to break a four-game scoreless streak. However, the forward has not scored a goal since Sept. 15 against St. John’s making him goalless over his previous seven contests. When Bateson is rolling, so is the Husky offense, so a breakout performance would provide dividends in an intense contest against Providence.
The Friars’ most decorated offensive player this season in terms of goals and points scored has been Brendan McSorley. In 12 contests this season, the senior has scored six goals to give him 12 points, both tops on his team. His 29 shot attempts also lead Providence, while his .207 shot percentage is the best on his team amongst players who have attempted at least 12 shots. McSorley enters the match having established a track record of success, as he was named to the Big East All-Tournament Team following the 2021 postseason. Despite the high scoring numbers, McSorley has gone scoreless over his past three contests. A rebound performance versus a tough Connecticut defense could be what the Friars need to exceed UConn in the conference standings.
Kick-off is set for 7 p.m. from Chapey Field at Anderson Stadium in Providence, Rhode Island. Fans can watch the Huskies live with a subscription to FloSports.