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Year in Review: UConn Men’s Soccer

The Huskies did not live up to expectations this year and will miss the NCAA Tournament for just the second time since 1998.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn men’s soccer started the season with some promise. The Huskies started with dominating wins against Iona and Nebraska-Omaha to start the year but fell flat against a talented Louisville team in their third game.

This started a 1-3-0 stretch for the Huskies where it looked like their season may have been in danger, but they bounced back to rattle off seven consecutive wins, including a shutout streak of 479:20 minutes.

USF broke that streak in a 1-0 loss for UConn on October 15 and UConn would only win one more match over the final four weeks, closing with a 1-4-1 record. The lone bright spot was a 1-0 overtime win over Boston College.

Over that six match stretch, UConn scored three goals and allowed eight. Over the first 13 matches of the season, goalkeeper Scott Levene and the Huskies allowed seven goals.

UConn’s teams are rarely offensive powerhouses and this year’s was no different, with a goals per game average of 1.37 on the season. This includes two five-goal efforts, one against Loyola-Maryland and the other against Cincinnati.

The Huskies were also shut out six times this season and even in their 11 wins, five were 1-0 triumphs. They only scored more than two goals three times in 19 matches.

It wasn’t for a lack of shots and chances. UConn consistently outshot and had a possession advantage over its opponent, even in losses. The Huskies out-shot opponents 209-to-153 on the season and averaged 12.29 shots per game. The problem was finishing.

Even though UConn opponents spotted them a 56-shot advantage, the Huskies only put eight more shots on goal than their opponents. Shots on goal per game fell all the way to 4.76. For comparison, the defense allowed 9.00 shots per game, 4.29 of those were on target.

Though a small sample size, another troubling statistic is that the Huskies went 1-for-4 on penalty kicks, with Abdou Mbacke Thiam hitting one of his three attempts.

The Huskies also struggled to find goals from people not named Mbacke Thiam. He scored 10 this year and aside from Andrew Geres, with three, no one scored more than two. Mbacke Thiam and Geres had half of UConn’s 26 goals this year.

As bad as the offense was, the defense was just as good. They had a 0.79 goals against average, only allowing 15 goals. Levene made a save on the only penalty he faced this season and they allowed only 8.1 shots per game. The defense only conceded 61 corners on the year, as well.

While senior leaders Kwame Awuah, Sebastian Brems and Jake Nerwinski will move on, the rest of the starting 11 all have eligibility remaining for next year.

Captains Cheikh Stephane Coly, Andrew Geres and Scott Levene will all be seniors. The back line will also be a year older, with Dylan Greenberg, Jacob Hauser and Simen Olafsen all becoming juniors. Abdou Mbacke Thiam, he of 21 career goals in two years, will also be a junior.

While UConn tended to have possession the majority of games, the defense was there when they needed it, especially late in games. The offense could not hold up their end of the bargain and that is why the Huskies missed the NCAA Tournament for the third time in Ray Reid’s tenure.