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Postgame Talk: Another Scoreless Draw, But UConn's Offense Waking Up

The UConn men's soccer team played to a 0-0 draw against Quinnipiac Monday night. No two scoreless draws are alike, however, and UConn looks to be waking up.

Fredrik Jonsson came close to scoring his first UConn goal Monday night.
Fredrik Jonsson came close to scoring his first UConn goal Monday night.
Steve Quick/The UConn Blog

The UConn men's soccer team has yet to win or score a goal in its first two games this season.

UConn was held to a scoreless draw Monday against Quinnipiac, despite nearly breaking its scoring drought. Going 220 minutes without a goal to start the season and 330:49 overall, dating back to last season, has the Huskies on the wrong side of history.

After watching Monday's game at Morrone Stadium, Dan Madigan, Matt Zampini and Tim Fontenault discussed what they saw and where UConn is going from here.

Tim Fontenault: The good news is UConn is not losing soccer games. The bad is the Huskies are not winning them either.

UConn has been fantastic in the back. Scott Levene continues to show why he earned the No. 1 spot last season. On his birthday, Levene came up big several times, especially in overtime, to save the Huskies Monday against Quinnipiac.

The rest of the defense has been solid, too. Simen Olafsen has been a fantastic addition on the back line, playing on the same side as Jake Nerwinski. Again, Nerwinski was clutch on the defensive side of the ball and threatened in the attack. Elliott Ackroyd showed his strength again next to Olafsen. It is hard to see from where I am when standing with the Goal Patrol, but it looked like Moustapha Samb played at left back in place of Dylan Greenberg. He has speed and creativity going forward. UConn needs that with Greenberg out.

Again, UConn could not get to goal, but the attack was better Monday than it was Friday. Nick Zuniga almost won the game with three seconds left. Triston Henry, the former Husky, came up big for Quinnipiac at the death.

Matt Zampini: Monday night was definitely better than Friday's opener for UConn. You were right, Tim, about Samb replacing Greenberg at left back. I thought he played well, but not great. It was his first collegiate game, so considering that, he was solid. Reid was very high on him after the game in the press conference and even said that he would take Greenberg's spot at left back next year and move Greenberg to the midfield.

We were all high on the midfield last game but I think they did a complete 180 from Friday to Monday. At least in the first half, they were not good. Between Sebastian Brems, Kwame Awuah and Cheick Stephane Coly, I thought they gave up possession too frequently and just didn't control the pace like they did against St. Francis Brooklyn. But the second half the played much better and they were able to get balls out to the flanks so the outside midfielders and outside backs could attack.

To piggy back your point about Levene, he was great tonight. He collected pretty much every ball that came into the box. Reid said after the game that if he plays like he did on Friday night, he's going to be the starting goalie for UConn for the next three years.

I know they haven't scored in two games, but the goals will come. It is a little concerning that they didn't score against St. Francis or Quinnipiac, but the goals will come. We saw flashes tonight in the second half and overtime of them creating dangerous scoring opportunities, so that isn't the problem, it's just finishing those chances.

Dan Madigan: Samb looked good, but showed that inexperience in the first half, where he got into trouble deep in UConn's own territory and gave the Bobcats a great scoring opportunity that they couldn't capitalize on

As for the midfield, Matt was spot on. I think the second half was better because there was more of Zuniga and Andy Geres, something I really wanted to see after last game. Those two helped ignite the offense a little bit and create some better chances.

Levene did play really well, can't deny that. But you also have to chalk up UConn's inability to score tonight due to the tremendous play from Henry. He definitely played like he had a chip on his shoulder and really worked his tail off for a clean sheet, making six saves. Really displayed the athleticism and aggressiveness that made him one of the top JUCO goalies two seasons ago.

I know this team will score goals, and probably at a high level at some point, but I do find this lack of offense concerning. It feels like an even slower start than last year. This is first time the Huskies have gone scoreless in their first two games since 2004, and the first time in program history that they've started a season with back-to-back scoreless draws. I think that last stat really shows where the team is at right now. The defense is exceptional, but the offense needs to make some strides in order to put wins on the board.

Overall, tonight was certainly a better performance, especially the second half. If they can play like that for a full 90 against Dartmouth Friday, they'll get their first win of the season.

Fontenault: I was excited for Henry Monday night. He was never going to get a chance at UConn because, as Matt pointed out, the net is Scott's until it isn't anymore. I always like to see guys like Henry and Lorenz Esposito, who is now at College of Charleston, go on to succeed after leaving UConn.

The midfield is loaded, but needs to start connecting. I couldn't be happier with the way Andy is playing, and Zuniga has been menacing when he comes in. Great to see from them. It's hard to make the case for taking any of the other guys out of the lineup though. They're so deep.

The goals are coming. I was excited to see Fredrik Jonsson get on the ball and into on goal. He made me laugh after the game when I was talking to him. You can tell he thinks he should have a few goals by now. But like I told him, they're coming.

I'm usually on about these things. Two years ago, Cyle Larin hadn't scored in a couple games. I told him it was OK. When he finally scored again, he wouldn't stop.

He hasn't, and now he's one goal away from breaking the MLS single-season record for a rookie.

Olafsen

Simen Olafsen has been excellent defensively for the Huskies. (Steve Quick/The UConn Blog)

Zampini: And Reid said exactly that last night. He pointed out that Larin only scored one goal in his first nine games during his freshman season, so I think Reid and Jonsson both know that the goals will come.

Madigan: Jonsson looked way more involved this game compared to the first one. It was a definite step in the right direction. He had some nice passes into the middle of the box after he used his size to win possession. He's showing the skill and the talent that we've heard about, and I think he'll piece it together soon. He's just a freshman, there's a lot of moving parts for him right now, but her acclimates a little more to this level I think he's going to be an absolute force offensively this year.

Fontenault: The first goal is coming Friday, when UConn takes on Dartmouth. He is incredibly talented, and he is going to finally hit the net Friday. UConn’s offense is waking up, so don’t be surprised if they put three in. The Huskies need a win Friday before they head out on the road to take on Harvard. The tide will turn soon.

Madigan: It has to, quite frankly. If they want to make the NCAA tournament, they can't keep posting draws with mediocre teams and taking hits to their RPI. But I agree, they're scoring Friday. The second half of the Quinnipiac game was more like the UConn offense we expected to see this season, creating opportunities in all sorts of ways.

With the defense playing as well as it is, they really only likely need one goal to get their first win of the season, but scoring a few more would really help put these offensive woes to rest.