UConn men’s soccer grabbed their third-consecutive victory on Friday when they defeated the Tulsa Golden Hurricane at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium by a score of 1-0.
“I thought we played the first half on our back foot,” head coach Ray Reid said. “But the second half, they stepped it up. They competed, they battled.”
Sophomore Niko Petridis scored the goal, his second of the year. Scott Levene made three saves for the Huskies.
The first half was a defensive struggle, with Tulsa leading in shots 3-to-2 and the Golden Hurricane having two shots on target and none for UConn. The teams struggled to mount sustained pressure in their respective offensive thirds, with most of the possessions coming in the middle of the field.
“We talk to each other a lot on the field and off the field,” Nkosi Burgess said. “When it comes to on the field, it’s really easy to orchestrate.”
UConn started off early, when Andrew Geres had a nice cross from the right side in the fourth minute that deflected behind the net by a sliding Tulsa defender inside the six-yard box, but nothing came of the ensuing corner kick.
In the 18th minute, Abdou Mbacke Thiam beat Tulsa goalkeeper Marcel Da Silva to a lofted ball on the edge of the 18-yard box and had an open net, but his off-balance shot on a bouncing ball was wide.
Neither team had too much offensive momentum until the 41st minute, when Kay Duit corralled a loose ball on the right side of the six-yard box with space. Levene came out to greet him and made the save on a hard shot.
The Huskies were able to counter on the play, but could not score and the half would end in a 0-0 tie.
Early on in the second half, UConn converted.
Blaise Tohou-N’Gague took a pass at midfield, just inside the left touch line, and flicked it on to a sprinting Petridis, who did the rest. His shot from the left side of the 18-yard box bent inside of Marcel Da Silva and into the back of the net.
“The more he scores, the more he is going to come off the bench,” Reid said. “He’s an injection into the game.”
The Huskies were much stronger offensively in the second half, outshooting Tulsa 6-to-4, getting two shots on target. Their other came late in the half, when Petridis again found himself with space to run in the 81st minute.
Austin DaSilva beat a Golden Hurricane defender to the ball with a slide and Petridis went streaking up the right side trying to beat a backpedaling Marcel Da Silva. He laid the ball off to Josh Burnett, but he could not convert on his shot.
“We’re very dangerous, especially on the counter,” Petridis said. “We almost got them a couple of times.”
Tulsa had much of the ball throughout the remainder of the game and applied lots of pressure, but the UConn defense held strong for the win.
UConn (5-2-2, 2-0-0) takes on No. 3 Maryland on Monday at Morrone Stadium. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.