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UConn Men’s Soccer Fight Off Temple 2-1 With Yet Another Last Minute Goal

Abdou Mbacke Thiam does it again for the Huskies.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

Who’s going to stop them? The UConn men’s soccer team improved to 9-2-2 on the season after knocking off the Temple Owls 2-1. Senior tri-captain Abdou Mbacke Thiam scored two second half goals, bringing his season tally to 11 and 42 for his career. UConn remains unbeaten at Morrone Stadium, and is now on a nine-game unbeaten streak.

For those keeping score at home, the win vs. Temple is now six games where UConn has taken the lead in the 75th minute or later in a game. That is huge for a team’s confidence heading into postseason play in a few short weeks.

Head coach Ray Reid was critical of the team’s slow start, but lauded them for figuring things out in the second half.

“The first 15 minutes of the game we did not compete. They put us on our heels. They’re a tough team; physical and organized defensively,” he said. “But the last 15 minutes of the first half and the entirety second half we played with urgency. It was just a matter of time before we broke them down.”

Temple got on the board first in the 38th minute, despite UConn outshooting the Owls 6-2 in the first half. They weren’t empty chances either; redshirt freshman Cole Venner and Dylan Greenberg both came close to converting.

Behind another possible verbal undressing from Reid at the break, UConn came out of the second half flying. Dylan Greenberg was brought down in the Temple box in the 62nd minute. Up stepped Mbacke Thiam, who calmly buried the kick.

UConn continued to pump crosses in, with Felix Metzler nearly grabbing the game winner in the 69th minute. But it was once again Mbacke Thiam delivering the late-game heroics for the Huskies. In the 88th minute, UConn’s talisman collected a lob from goalkeeper Austin Aviza. What followed was, in the words of famous soccer commentator Stu Holden, “filth of the highest order.” Mbacke Thiam saw Temple’s 6-foot-9 goalkeeper was a step or so outside his comfort zone, and sent a perfectly weighted lobbed chip past the behemoth and into the net.

The stunner vaulted UConn to the top of the American Athletic Conference. For Mbacke Thiam, it is now four-straight seasons of double-digit goals.

“I used to do that in practice, but that the first time I did it in a game,” Mbacke Thiam said about the chip. “That was the only option I had. It was a perfect action. I know myself, I know I can play those balls.”

When asked about the milestone, the ever-classy UConn talisman deflected the praise and focused on his teammates.

“It feels amazing, but I feel even better about the team,” he said. “Last year, we were 8-8-2, and this year we’re already past that win total. I’m not thinking about my goals, but they do give me confidence.”

The game wasn’t over though. A late push from Temple created a dangerous chance in the box, but Temple was whistled for a foul against Aviza, negating the potential equalizer. Aviza was rock-solid once again, but credited his backline for helping him out.

“Defensively, we’re pretty solid,” the keeper said. “They make my life pretty easy, between the back four and then Blaise (N’Gague) and Felix (Metzler) in front of them.”

UConn soccer fans and the fabled Goal Patrol have something to celebrate too. According to NCAA Soccer, UConn leads the NCAA in attendance so far this season by over 1,000 fans per game.

Next up is the last non-conference tilt against Vermont. The Catamounts head to Morrone Stadium on Tuesday, Oct. 23 for a 7:00 p.m. match.