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UConn Men’s Soccer Opens AAC Play With Win Over Temple

Abdou Mbacke Thiam nets his fourth goal in the last three games for the Huskies.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

The Huskies got their third win in-a-row on Saturday, defeating Temple 1-0 to get themselves off to a good start in American Athletic Conference play. Abdou Mbacke Thiam scored the goal for the Huskies off a corner in the 64th minute off the foot of Kwame Awuah. Mbacke Thiam has scored four goals in the three games since he returned from a hamstring injury.

“It’s definitely important to get a win in your first conference game,” Simen Olafsen said. “We’ll go into Tulsa with a lot of confidence.”

On a crisp early fall evening, the teams seemed to have trouble getting going. The Huskies had their share of chances in the first half with five shots, four of which were on target. The Huskies played well on defense, controlling possession most of the game. Scott Levene only had to make one save in the first half.

The Huskies did have an early chance, as a Jake Nerwinski cross in the 2nd minute was unable to find a UConn head. However, after a 7th minute shot from Temple’s Belal Mohamed that gave Levene his only save of the half, things started to settle down.

Awuah had a nice idea in the 13th minute when he sent a cross in from the left side in the direction of Mbacke Thiam, but goalkeeper Alex Cagle sniffed it out before Mbacke Thiam could get to it.

The Huskies had two corner kicks in the first half as well, coming four minutes apart. The first one came in the 27th minute, when Awuah was denied trying to go short side and the second came in the 31st minute on a Mbacke Thiam shot that Cagle just barely got his fingers on.

The beginning of the second half proceeded similarly to the first. Mohamed, who had Temple’s 7th minute shot, had another shot that forced Levene to make a save, this one coming in the 47th minute. UConn continued to hold possession and in the 64th minute, they were able to pot one to take a 1-0 lead.

Awuah had a corner kick on the right flag. He curled one in and was able to find Mbacke Thiam who headed it into the far side of the net. It was Mbacke Thiam’s sixth goal of the season, leading the Huskies.

“It’s not my success, it’s the success for the team,” Mbacke Thiam said.

Just a few minutes later in the 73rd minute, Temple found their best chance, but Levene was up to the task. A cross from the left side found the head of Jorge Gomez Sanchez, but Levene was able to stretch all the way out on a dive to his left and hold on to make the save.

“Thankfully he didn’t get a lot of power on it, but he did get some direction on it,” Levene said. “Thankfully I was there.”

UConn (6-3-0, 1-0-0) next takes the field when they travel to Rhode Island for a non-conference tilt with Providence College. Kickoff is at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday.