The UConn men’s soccer team was back home last night, matching up against the Manhattan College Jaspers in their first game of the season at Dillon Stadium. The Huskies were able to grind out a 2-0 win, ending their three-game losing streak, in what ended up being a closer match than many would have predicted.
Head Coach Ray Reid spoke on the importance of this win for the team.
“It was a must win to get back on track and the guys did a good job [and] put in a great effort,” Reid said.
UConn (3-3-0) was quick out of the gate in this match, taking only seven minutes to find its first goal of the game via star forward Jordan Hall. After a nice feed from Dayonn Harris and a quick burst of speed from Hall, the Englishman found himself one-on-one with Manhattan’s goalie. Hall kept his composure and slotted the ball towards the far post and into the back of the net to open the scoring for UConn.
This was Hall’s seventh goal of the season and Harris’ sixth assist, totals good enough for first and second among all college soccer players in their respective areas. After the game, Harris spoke about how he is able to continuously find his teammates and set them up with good opportunities.
“Coach has allowed me to have that freedom to move around wherever. I just try and find the ball wherever it is and get my teammates in the best possible position to score or assist,” Harris said.
Both sides remained relatively quiet for the remainder of the first half and headed to the locker rooms with the 1-0 lead, each team taking just five shots.
The second half was much more active and saw the Jaspers’ aggressiveness increase right off the bat, searching desperately for that equalizing goal. UConn’s backline led by center backs Robin Lapert and Jake Dengler had other plans. The two playing extremely well together, Lapert working as the last man of defense while Dengler made key tackle after key tackle to keep Manhattan off the scoreboard.
Harris talked about how much he appreciates the team’s grit in games like this.
“We’re all fighters, down to the last guy,” Harris said. “I respect that, and we just try to bring it every single day.”
Although the Jaspers seemed in control for the majority of the second half, all it took was one opportunity for the Huskies to extend their lead.
After being sent back and forth between the teams, the ball found its way to Lapert’s feet with acres of space in front of him. The defender sent a brilliant through ball to midfielder Cole Venner and he did the rest, faking out two defenders in the box before placing the ball past the keeper for his first goal of the season.
Venner spoke about his mindset when he has the ball in open space with the goal in sight.
“It’s really just being calm even though I’m right in front of the goal because if I panic, I’m not gonna score, I’m gonna miss the target,” Venner said.
Venner’s goal put UConn up 2-0, a lead they would not let go of for the remainder of the contest. Although the Huskies walked away with the win, Reid still saw some things that could be improved upon if they want to turn this win into a hot streak.
“We’ve just gotta be cleaner moving the ball — everything’s rushed,” Reid said. “We’ve gotta slow down and dictate the tempo of the match.”
For now, UConn is simply happy to be back on the winning side of things and will look to carry this momentum into their next game against Columbia University this Friday.
Conner Gilson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.