UConn Men’s Soccer narrowly fell in heartbreaking fashion to Notre Dame on Tuesday night, 1-0 in overtime. The Husky defense played very well, holding the Irish offense to only five shots on target. Goalkeeper Scott Levene made four saves, keeping the Huskies in the game in the second half, but was unable to complete the shut out, allowing a goal in the 103rd minute.
The Huskies had eight shots throughout the game, only one of which was on target.
In the first half, UConn played like they belonged on the field against the top-ranked team in the country. The Irish came in with a 4-1 victory over No. 15 Virginia Tech in their previous match and outscoring opponents 16-2 on the season. Notre Dame is without question an offensive juggernaut, scoring at least four goals in three of their five games. In the first 45 minutes, UConn didn’t allow Notre Dame a shot on target.
The Huskies have played well defensively, allowing only four goals in their first five matches and doing a good job of limiting shots. While Notre Dame had its share of chances, the back line did not allow the Irish good shot opportunities as all six of their shots were off target.
The defense played particularly well defending set pieces. Notre Dame had three corners and two free kicks within striking distance in the first half and all were defended without a shot on goal. A defender was there to head it out of the way or to force the shot to go wide or high.
The Huskies had six shots of their own, with one on target off Awuah’s foot in the 25th minute. But like Notre Dame, the Huskies’ best chances were near misses.
In the 37th minute, Jake Nerwinski had a throw-in just inside of half on the right side of the field. It was turned over, but he took it right back and dribbled through defender after defender, making a tremendous individual effort to get the ball to Nick Zuniga, who was sitting at the penalty spot. He laid the ball off to Niko Petridis, but his shot from the top of the 18-yard box was blocked.
In the first half, the back line who came up big. In the second half, it was Scott Levene. He did not have a save in the first half, but made three saves in the second half, two of which kept UConn in the game.
In the 79th minute, Levene dove to his left to make a save on a deflection on a cross from the end line and had a similar effort in the 72nd minute on a shot from about 25 yards out. Levene kept the Huskies in the game when the Irish offense was seemingly knocking on the door.
Three minutes into the second half of overtime, the potent offense of the Irish proved to be too much. Jon Gallagher received a through ball from Brandon Aubrey and took a shot from the right side that went right through Levene’s legs for the game-winning goal.
UConn (3-3-0) next takes the field on Saturday against Loyola-Maryland. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Morrone Stadium.