This Saturday, the UConn men’s soccer team will look to make a run at this season’s Big East title when they travel to Queens, New York to take on the St. John’s Red Storm in the first round of the conference tournament.
The Huskies clinched the fifth seed in the conference tournament after going 4-4 in conference play, garnering 12 points on the season. Overall, the team managed a 8-7-1 record. Meanwhile, the Red Storm managed to go 3-1-4 in Big East play this year, narrowly beating Connecticut with 13 points to clinch the fourth seed in the tournament. As the higher seed, St. John earned home field advantage for the first round.
UConn was bested by Xavier in their final matchup of the regular season last Saturday, losing by a final score of 4-0. The Husky offense had difficulty generating scoring opportunities throughout the entire 90 minutes as the team managed just five shot attempts, putting two on-goal. Entering halftime Connecticut found themselves down just 1-0, but three scores over the span of just 12 minutes gave Xavier a lead that they would not relinquish.
The Red Storm moved ahead of the Huskies on the final day of the regular season after posting a 2-2 tie against Creighton. Nicolas Fleuriau Chateau provided all of the Johnnies’ offense with two first half goals. After pulling ahead 2-0 with five minutes before half time, Creighton managed a goal to enter the break down just one score and was able to tie the game with another goal in the fifth minute of the second half.
The growth of Scott Testori has been one of the most interesting developments for UConn soccer this season. After starting just five games last season and finishing third on the team with seven points, Testori went nuclear this season after seeing his playing time increase by over 200 minutes. The junior led Connecticut in goals (seven) and points (18) while finishing second in shots (27) and shots-on-goal (13). After experiencing a bit of a skid during the middle of the season, Testori got hot as the Huskies gained traction towards clinching a playoff berth. He scored four goals and added two more assists over a three-game stretch between Oct. 14-21 in which UConn went 2-1. After a lackluster performance by the team’s offense in the final regular season game, the Huskies will rely on Testori to be a spark plug throughout the postseason.
Fleuriau Chateau has been one of the best players in college soccer this season for the Red Storm. His two goals against Creighton upped his season total to 14, tying him for the most goals scored across all of NCAA DI. He’s scored multiple goals in three contests this season and has scored in an astounding 11 of his team’s 16 matches so far this season. The forward has scored 10 more goals than the next-closest Johnnie, amassing 29 points thanks to his 14 scores and one assist. Amazingly, he’s the only player for St. John’s who has attempted more than one shot with a shot-on-goal percentage over .500 despite him taking far and away the most shots on the team. The two-score effort against Creighton gave Fleuriau Chateau his first Big East Offensive Player of the Week honor for the final week of the regular season. According to the Big East webpage, Fleuriau Chateau is averaging a goal every 52.4 minutes. To say that he’ll be the centerpiece of the Red Storm’s offensive attack would be a severe understatement.
In the past when Connecticut and St. John’s have met, the Red Storm have had the Huskies’ number. UConn is 13-17-7 all-time when facing the conference opponent. The two last met in September of this year, when the Huskies defeated the Johnnies 2-1. Naturally, both team’s top scorers this season in Testori and Fleuriau Chateau converted goals in the contest. It was Pierce Bateson, another standout development for UConn this year, who managed the game-winner and secured the win. The Huskies are 1-9-5 against the Red Storm when playing as the away team and will look to rewrite the narrative with a win to advance to the semi final round of the tournament.
“Playing on the road in the Big East is difficult but I think that we’re certainly capable of doing it,” UConn head coach Chris Gbandi said following the loss to Xavier last Saturday. “Anybody can beat anybody in our league at any given moment. Once you have an opportunity to keep playing, that’s all that you can ask for… so we’ll look forward to our next game [against St. John’s].
Gametime is set for 6 p.m. from Belson Stadium in Queens, New York on Saturday. Fans at home can catch the Huskies live by tuning in to the Big East Digital Network.