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Notebook: UConn Men’s Soccer Falls To NC State in Final Exhibition Game

NC State scored four goals in the final 21 minutes of the game.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

The No. 24 UConn Huskies men’s soccer team had their second and final exhibition on Saturday night as they hosted the North Carolina State Wolfpack out of the ACC. The Wolfpack will head back to Raleigh, North Carolina happy as they grabbed a 4-1 win over the host.

Though it was an exhibition, the Huskies played it not unlike they would a real game. The starters played a large majority of the contest and until the end, only a few played off the bench.

UConn head coach Ray Reid played this one as a dress rehearsal for Friday’s match with Iona and as a result, he showed his hand a little bit for the season.

Lineup

After playing with Abdou Mbacke Thiam alone up front most of last season, UConn now has Penn State transfer Dayonn Harris joining him up front as well as freshman Austin DaSilva, who saw some time as a forward. In addition to Harris, newcomers Blaise Tohou-N’Gague and Josh Burnett saw starts.

The Good

Though it was an exhibition against an NC State team that finished 5-12-0 and 89th in the final NCAA RPI, there were plenty of positives to draw from the match.

The biggest among those positives is the offense. The Huskies’ offensive troubles last year prevented them from getting an NCAA berth and it was clear that the additions helped.

Harris is exceptionally quick and he was used on the counterattack to stretch the field as well as on through balls.

The forwards also took more accurate shots. On Niko Petridis’ goal in the 43rd minute, he took a pass just outside the box on the right side and took a couple touches before burying the ball to the far post. Last year, we might see the team miss that shot, as Petridis was trying to shield a defender as well.

The Huskies put eight shots on goal, five of which were on frame. Last year, five shots on net would have been a high number, and this team has been together for about 10 days.

The Bad

The Huskies did not finish this match defensively, allowing four goals in the final 21 minutes of the game. NC State scored their first goal on a free kick from just beyond the back left corner of the box on a header in the 69th minute, with the starting defense still in the game.

The Wolfpack followed it up with another goal just under 11 minutes later on another header, this one on a throw-in.

In the 86th minute, David Loera took a rocket off a shot on a loose ball from outside the 18-yard box and beat UConn backup keeper Austin Aviza, who allowed three of the goals in 14 minutes of play.

NC State completed the scoring with 52 seconds to play on a corner kick.

Most of the starters were out for the final two goals but if the Huskies can finish games, they will have a strong season with the way the offense is looking.

UConn will begin their season for real on Friday, when they host Iona at 7 p.m. in the second game of a doubleheader. The UConn women’s soccer team will take on Yale at 3 p.m. in the first game.


Photo gallery credits: Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog