The UConn men’s soccer team hosted the UCF Knights this weekend but after another close matchup that went to OT, headed home with a 2-1 loss. This is the sixth straight loss the Huskies have suffered by just one goal on the season and third straight they have lost in overtime.
UConn (4-9-1, 1-3-0 The American) was completely shut down by the No. 11 Knights in the first half, getting off just one shot and taking one corner. Meanwhile, UCF had control from kickoff and forced three corners in the first 12 minutes of the half while taking five shots.
Despite the pressure, a combination of UConn’s defense and freshman keeper Marcus Peterkin kept the Knights’ shots out of the net. With the clock winding down it looked like both teams would enter the first half scoreless, but UCF (9-1-2, 3-0-1 The American) found the back of the net with just two seconds left. Knights freshman Jonas Schmalbach lofted a ball to the back post towards senior teammate Cal Jennings. Peterkin was indecisive coming out for the save, opening the window Jennings needed to head the ball over and in for the goal as time expired.
The second half was hot and cold to start for the Huskies, who after giving up five more shots to UCF in a four-minute period, took control for themselves in search of the equalizer. UConn was aggressive, taking 12 shots in the second, but the only one that mattered was the equalizer they scored in the 81st minute. Junior Ziyad Fekri lined up for the corner and sent a bending ball toward the near post where 6-foot-5 Jake Dengler was waiting to head the ball home for his first of the year.
Both teams would apply loads of pressure for the remaining nine minutes, but the game would inevitably go to overtime. This would be the fourth straight game to go to overtime for the Knights, who were 2-0-1 in their previous three while the Huskies have struggled in overtime this season, sitting at 0-2-1 when the game goes to extra time.
The pattern would continue for the two teams, as just two minutes into overtime UCF found the game-winner. The Huskies had the ball in their own third but struggled with the clearance. After a miss-kicked ball from Dengler, the ball bounced to Gino Vivi who took one touch before lasering a volley from 25 yards out past Peterkin and into the net to seal the victory for the Knights.
The fight UConn displayed was a welcome sight for a team that has looked lost at times this season. Despite the end result, there are some positives to take away from UConn competing against a top-ranked team in the nation, a trait they can hopefully carry into their next matchup against the Temple Owls, who sit just a few spots ahead of the Huskies in conference rankings.
Conner Gilson is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets @connergilson03.