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UConn Men’s Soccer: Conference Tournament Preview

The Huskies are the three-seed in the four-team tournament being held in Tampa.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

The UConn men’s soccer team finished the regular season with a record of 11-6-1, including a 3-3-1 record in American Athletic Conference play. The Huskies’ earned 10 points in conference play, good enough for third place.

The third-place finish bore them a spot in the AAC Tournament, which they clinched on the final night of the regular season in a draw against SMU on Saturday night.

The AAC Tournament has a four-team bracket, with the semifinals taking place on Friday, November 11 and the final on Sunday, November 13.

UConn will have a semifinal date with two-seed Tulsa on Friday, with kickoff coming at 4:30. Tulsa finished 9-4-4 on the year with a 4-2-1 conference record.

On October 1, UConn and Tulsa met in the regular season in Oklahoma. The Huskies won their fifth consecutive match, 1-0, on an Andrew Geres goal in the 31st minute off of a rebound. Tulsa pushed throughout the final 59 minutes, but could not score an equalizer.

The Golden Hurricane come into the tournament hot, having won two straight with an unbeaten 4-0-2 record in their final six matches. They have not lost since October 6, when USF defeated them in Tampa, 2-0. This streak includes a win over No. 24 Creighton by a score of 3-2.

USF comes in as the No. 1 seed. The Bulls had a record of 9-6-2, 6-1-0 in conference play.

The Bulls and Huskies played at Morrone Stadium on October 15. USF snapped UConn’s seven-match winning streak with a 1-0 win. They scored in the 22nd minute and parked the bus for the remainder of the game.

USF also comes in with a long winning streak in addition to having home-field advantage for this tournament. The Bulls have won their last four matches and five of their last six. The only loss came against Florida Gulf Coast, currently the No. 21 team in the country.

The UCF Knights are the fourth team in the tournament. They finished with a 5-10-0 record overall, 3-4-0 in the conference. Their nine points tied them with Cincinnati, but they advanced to the tournament due to a head-to-head win over the Bearcats in their final match of the season. The Knights will enter the tournament cold, with wins in two of their of their last seven matches. They are 2-5-0 in that stretch.

UCF defeated UConn as part of the Huskies’ current three-match winless streak. In Orlando, the Knights got a 2-1 win in overtime.

UConn and Tulsa’s semifinal kicks off at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, with USF and UCF’s semifinal beginning at 7:00 p.m. The final will be at 12:00 p.m. on Sunday. The semifinals will be on the American Digital Network and the final will be on ESPN3. The final will also be tape-delayed on ESPNU at 4:00 p.m.

Regular season awards were released on Wednesday and while no Huskies won individual awards, a few were placed on all-conference teams, as well as the team winning the Fair Play Award.

The Fair Play Award is determined by a point system. Each foul is worth one point, a yellow card is worth five and a red card is 10 points. The Huskies had 68 fouls, eight yellow cards and zero red cards for a total of 108 points.

As for the All-Conference selections, UConn had three on the first team, two of which were unanimous selections. The three Huskies on the team were the second most, only surpassed by USF (four).

Senior captains Jake Nerwinski and Kwame Awuah, in addition to sophomore Abdou Mbacke Thiam, made the 11-man all-conference first team. Mbacke Thiam and Awuah were among the unanimous selections.

Simen Olafsen, a sophomore, was the only UConn member on the All-Conference Second Team. Freshmen Niko Petridis and Munir Saleh were each selected to the All-Rookie Team.