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No. 24 UConn men’s soccer drops season opener to Iona

Not the start the UConn men’s soccer team was looking for.

UConn’s Abdou Mback Thiam (11) crosses the ball with his heel.
Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

As UConn welcomed the class of 2021 to campus, the UConn Huskies men’s and women’s soccer teams opened their home schedule with a doubleheader. The women’s side suffered a defeat to Yale, while the men did not fare much better, as they fell to the Iona Gaels 1-0.

The Huskies outshot the Gaels 12-to-5, and had a 10-1 advantage in corner kicks, but as in years past, they just couldn’t find the back of the net.

UConn was the better team in the first half but couldn’t do anything with it.

Throughout the first 45 minutes, the home team held possession and played much of the match in the offensive third, but they only truly threatened once in the 34th minute as Abdou Mbacke Thiam headed the ball across the goal line from right to left, but he missed just wide of the far post.

The Huskies led in shots, 4-to-3, but Iona had both of the shots on target.

Though they were the better squad, UConn did not get to a scoreless tie in the first half without some hairy moments.

In the 10th minute, goalkeeper Scott Levene lost his positioning and went after a ball about 10 yards to the left side of the box. He fouled the Iona player and got a yellow card, giving the Gaels a free kick in a good position.

Iona also had the best opportunity to score in the first half as a header squirted by Levene in the 41st minute, but Mbacke Thiam was able to clear the ball off the goal line.

To begin the second half, UConn started with the ball and came out with a vengeance.

In the 48th minute, Niko Petridis was able to draw a penalty and Mbacke Thiam was chosen to take it. He went left and the Gaels’ keeper, Kellar Sirstins, guessed correctly. He was able to get finger tips on the drive, just enough to knock the ball off the post and keep the match tied.

On the ensuing play, the Huskies earned a free kick in a very similar position to Iona’s early and soon after that, a corner. They did well to get those three opportunities to score, but they could not finish.

The Huskies had a quick flurry of three corners around the 70th minute, and Killian Colombie missed wide left for Iona on a breakaway in the 86th minute, setting the stage for overtime.

With just about two and half minutes remaining in the second overtime, Iona’s Josh Plimpton found a loose ball inside the box after a free kick and got just enough on it to put it into the back of the net and complete the upset.

No. 24 UConn (0-1-0) plays Quinnipiac on Monday in their second match of the season at Morrone Stadium. Kick off is at 7 p.m.