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UConn Men’s Soccer Ties North Florida, 2-2

The visitors rallied from two goals down to take a win away from the Huskies.

UConn’s Josh Burnett (10) holds his hands over his face after just missing the goal on a shot in overtime.
Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn Men’s Soccer had a 2-0 lead at the half but was unable to hold on to the lead as the Huskies tied with North Florida, 2-2, on Saturday at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium in front of 4,262.

“We had better chances,” goalkeeper Scott Levene said. “We need to come together better as a team and shut down shots.”

UConn took 11 shots, nine on target, while Levene made six saves on 12 North Florida shots.

The Huskies had an offensive explosion early in the first half, scoring two goals just 25 seconds apart in the 15th minute, both off the foot of Abdou Mbacke Thiam. For the first, Niko Petridis sent a cross to him from the right side and he buried past Juanes Fajardo with a redirection. Moments later, he broke through on a breakaway to double the Huskies’ lead.

“Abdou was brilliant tonight,” UConn head coach Ray Reid said.

At the midway point, UConn led in shots, 5-to-4, and had put all five shots on target.

“It could have been 4-0. The game was in our hands,” Reid said.

Early in the second half, the Ospreys began the comeback with a free kick which found the back of the net. Micah Smoak hit it to the right of the center of the field from approximately 30 yards out in the 47th minute and found the top-right corner to make it 2-1.

North Florida was the better side throughout the second half, outshooting the Huskies 5-to-3 and holding a lot of the possession. This paid dividends for the Ospreys in the 78th minute when they tied the match.

Smoak played the ball down the line to Josh Castellanos on the left side of the field. From just inside the goal line, he sent the ball all the way across the goal to the far post, where Shane Nicholson was able to sneak the ball behind Levene short side.

In overtime, the Huskies had several chances to finish the game off, but Fajardo and the Osprey defense were up to the task each time.

UConn (2-2-2) begins conference season in their next match when they travel to Temple on Saturday. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.