On a chilly Monday evening in early October, it seemed that the UConn men’s soccer team might pull the upset over the No. 3 Maryland Terrapins, but they fell 3-2 in front of 4,160 energetic fans at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium.
“There’s nobody in college soccer who has as many weapons as [Maryland] does,” head coach Ray Reid said. “I thought we competed hard.”
The Terrapins looked like they were going to cruise to victory with a 3-1 lead late, but in the 88th minute, Nicolas Apostol intercepted a lazy pass and finished to make it a one-goal match, kicking UConn into high gear.
“I kept pushing and kept working and in the end, it paid off,” Apostol said.
Nkosi Burgess forced a corner kick in the 89th minute on a shot that almost went in, but the Huskies could not complete the comeback.
The Terrapins outshot the Huskies 11-to-10, while the home side got five shots on target. Scott Levene made three saves in goal. Blaise Tohou-N’Gague and Apostol scored the goals for UConn.
Through the first 45 minutes, the visitors were certainly the better team but were not dominating the match.
Maryland led in shots 7-to-3, corners 2-to-1 and held more of the possession, but the Huskies were able to get through on their own share of chances early. However, it was Maryland that seemed to strike first on a shot from the left side of the box in the 17th minute, but the Terrapins were ruled offside.
UConn’s fortune lasted approximately 10 minutes, when Eryk Williamson collected a deflection on the right side of the box and put it past Levene inside the far post.
Maryland smelled blood and pressed more and more, but Tohou-N’Gague sent a long ball from just outside the 18-yard box across midfield after a turnover. Niko Petridis brought the ball down the right side and crossed the ball into Cheikh Stephane Coly, who had his legs taken out from under him to draw a penalty.
“I got put into the game and I knew right away I had to make an impact going forward,” Petridis said. “I played [Coly] through, he drew a penalty and Blaise put it away perfectly.”
Tohou-N’Gague was chosen to take the penalty kick and Maryland goalie Dayne St. Clair guessed left, but the freshman from Lyon, France went right and found the back of the net.
“Blaise buries that one and our guys get energized,” Reid said.
The momentum continued into the second half, where the Huskies looked like they were going to take a lead, but in the 55th minute, Jake Rozhansky took a great pass from Sebastian Elney that carved up the defense and he put the ball past Levene.
The Huskies would not be deterred and came back hard, with Mbacke Thiam almost scoring on a tremendous individual effort in the 57th minute, but DJ Reeves put Maryland up 3-1 in the 67th minute with the game-winner.
UConn (5-3-2) resumes conference play on the road on Saturday against Cincinnati in their next match. Kickoff is at 4 p.m.