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No. 13 UConn Men’s Soccer Holds Off Boston College, 3-2

Josh Burnett had a big night for the Huskies.

UConn’s Cole Venner (15) and Abdou Mbacke Thiam (11) celebrate with Josh Burnett (12) after Burnett’s goal in the first half vs Boston College.
Pato Jerzak

With all of the sports going on around UConn and New England Tuesday night, the action might have been the most frenetic at Morrone Stadium. The UConn men’s soccer team beat Boston College 3-2 last night in an exciting match filled with back-and-forth action. The No. 13/20 Huskies improved to 8-2-2 on the season, 7-0-1 at home, and extended their unbeaten streak to eight games.

UConn got the scoring off in the 25th minute. Josh Burnett was taken down around the half-field mark. Instead of “Neymaring” around, Burnett hopped up, took the quick restart, and chipped a ball forward to Abdou Mbacke Thiam. Boston College had not set its defense and was contesting the foul, so Mbacke Thiam took two touches and slotted it in the far post. It was an incredibly heady play by Burnett, and Mbacke Thiam’s ninth goal on the year, and 39th for his career.

UConn still wasn’t out of the woods yet, though. In the 31st minute, the Huskies put in a bit too reckless of a sliding challenge, giving Boston College a penalty kick. However, redshirt junior Austin Aviza guessed right (literally), and his save bounced off the post and away from the goal. It was a well-taken penalty but an even better guess, and kept UConn up 1-0.

Pato Jerzak

The Huskies struck again in the 42nd minute. Redshirt freshman Cole Venner put Mbacke Thiam into space and with no numbers with him, the UConn star cut back, and played an absolutely filthy dime cross-field to a streaking Burnett. The ball curled enough that all the Burnett had to do was keep his ankle locked, and make contact to put it past a frozen BC keeper. It was a magnificent ball from Mbacke-Thiam, giving him four assists on the year, tied for the team lead. You simply can’t avoid hyperbole on this one; it was as good as a pass (and finish) that you’d see at any level of soccer professionally, and probably earned UConn’s talisman some dollars down the road.

Shortly after the start of the second half in the 50th minute, Blaise N’Gague put a pretty ball in to who else but Burnett, who slotted it home for the brace. That put Burnett’s tally for the night up to two goals and one assist.

While things appeared settled, Boston College stayed in the game, and technically had the better run of play for the rest of the second half. The Eagles’ leading scorer, Kristofer Konradsson, found the back of the net in the 78th minute.

Things got a little interesting in the 84th minute, when Boston College and Konradsson got another one back. However, UConn quickly settled in defensively, ensuring no other lapses would occur. Aviza, continuing his stellar night, made two key blocks as time winded down, adding to his career high eight saves for the game.

Notes

  • Despite the beautiful goals, UConn players were not on the same page for most of the game. This was the most I’ve seen center-backs just boot it forward instead of electing to keep it on the ground and knock it around. There were also several turnovers that were just miscues between players, especially in the attacking third.
  • Tri-captain Dylan Greenberg continued to flash, and was all over the field on the left side. His overlapping runs are so dangerous, and several marauding runs forward that put pressure on the Eagles defense.
  • Blaise N’Gague impresses as a holding midfield. As the traditional No. 4, he wins the 1v1 battles, distributes simply, while springing counters when appropriate. He got credit in the book for the assist on the third goal, but he has had several “hockey assists” this year.
  • Looking back on the season, this will be known as the Josh Burnett game. Besides his obvious stats, he was incredibly effective in taking defenders on, playing the simple pass when needed, and controlling the tempo of the game.
  • Senior tri-captain Jacob Hauser-Ramsey was once again named the AAC Defensive Player of the Week, for the third time in a row, and fourth overall. Aviza was also named to the AAC Honor Roll for his efforts in the 0-0 tie against Central Florida.
  • Mbacke Thiam remains second in the AAC in goals, behind Cal Jennings of UCF.

Next up on the UConn men’s soccer schedule is an AAC clash against Temple University. The Owls come to Storrs on Saturday, Oct. 20, at 7:00 p.m. at Morrone Stadium.