UConn Men's Soccer takes its second win in as many games after defeating the Omaha-Nebraska Mavericks, 2-0. Abdou Mbacke Thiam and Niko Petridis scored the goals for UConn while Scott Levene only had to make one save to earn the clean slate.
UConn outplayed Omaha in the first half but had nothign to show for it besides a few shots on net. The Huskies outshot Omaha, 7-to-1, and had a 3-to-1 advantage in shots on target, with Levene’s only save not being a particularly challenging one. The Mavericks also committed eight fouls giving UConn a couple of good chances, including a penalty shot in the 16th minute.
One of those good chances came in the third minute when Kwame Awuah sent a cross into the box that was just wide and could not find anyone.
In the 16th minute, Abdou Mbacke Thiam earned a penalty after a takedown inside the box. He went to his right and Omaha goalkeeper Joseph Ghitis guessed correctly to make the save. Just a minute later, Niko Petridis was able to cut in towards the box from the right side, but his shot hit the side netting. In the 18th, it was almost Thiam again, but his shot was just off target.
"[Thiam] is the money guy," Ray Reid said. "He missed one, it’s alright."
The rest of the opening half went by uneventfully, with the Mavericks lucky to have the game in a scoreless tie in front of a sellout crowd at Morrone Stadium.
"[The crowd] has a big effect," junior midfielder Alex Kao said. "We can hear them supporting us and it gives us a lot of strength."
The Huskies were able to create more chances in the second half, capitalizing on a couple.
Thiam knocked a cross from Dylan Greenberg towards the net in the 54th minute, but his header went just wide.
Two minutes later, Thiam took a free kick from about 30 yards out. While the initial shot was blocked, he was able to get off another shot that Ghitis made a nice save on.
In the 61st minute, Niko Petridis came streaking down the right side and was able to lay the ball off to Awuah. Awuah’s shot, from the corner of the 18-yard box, was an absolute rocket, but it sailed just over the crossbar.
In the 67th minute, Omaha committed a hand ball right on the edge of the 18-yard box, awarding UConn another penalty shot. Thiam, blessed with a second chance, took advantage. He went high and to his left. Though Ghitis guessed correctly again, he could not get his hand on the shot that went just under the bar to give UConn a 1-0 lead.
The Huskies did not stop pressing the remainder of the game, with DeAndre Brown making a nice pass to Jake Nerwinski in the 74th minute. Nerwinski took the ball down the right side and sent a cross in, but he could not find a UConn foot.
The Huskies spent the final 23 minutes of the match searching for an insurance goal which freshman Niko Petridis delivered in the 85th minute. Kwame Awuah made a nice pass to Petridis and he was able to get around Ghitis, leaving a wide open net. He did not miss, giving UConn the 2-0 lead they would finish with.
UConn (2-0-0) will next play on Friday when the Huskies welcome former Big East/American rival Louisville into Morrone Stadium for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
Photo gallery credits: Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog