The UConn men’s soccer team opened up it’s American Athletic Conference play with a 2-2 draw Saturday night against USF. UConn moves to 4-2-1 on the year, and 12-3-4 all time against the Bulls.
It was another physical, defensive slog and head coach Ray Reid commended his team for battling through an ugly game.
“Our guys stepped up,” Reid said. “We were very resilient. We were a bit unfortunate in two overtimes not to win the game.”
Redshirt junior Dayonn Harris opened his UConn account in the sixth minute, lacing a ball from the top of the box into the right corner. It was also his first career goal.
USF responded within five minutes, converting on a corner in the 11th minute. Following those salvos, it was mostly a defensive match, with both teams mustering a combined six shots for the rest of the half.
The outlook turned grim after USF converted a well-struck half volley in the 77th minute. UConn, as it has done all season, responded to the adversity. Abdou Mbacke Thiam scored a volley of his own off a low cross from Harris no less than five minutes after the Bulls took the lead. It was Mbacke Thiam’s 37th goal of his career, and a team-leading sixth on the season. Harris now leads the team in assists with four.
UConn had a chance for more late-season heroics, but freshman Felix Metzler saw his chance sail over the crossbar in the game’s last seconds before overtime.
Reid elaborated on a game that was mostly UConn in possession, with little to show for it in the results column.
“We tried to get aggressive,” he said. “But when going 110 minutes, fatigue gets involved. I really thought guys came in and gave their all. A lot of guys put a lot of mileage in today.”
UConn remains unbeaten at Morrone Stadium. Reid believes its early-season gauntlet in Indiana has prepared the team for life on the road.
“We’ll do some recovery tomorrow and have some time off,” he said. “These guys have great character and are real workers. The two road games we’ve played were against two of the top 10 teams in the country, so we’ll be ready.”
Next up for UConn is a road trip down to Memphis, on Friday, September 29 at 8 p.m. The Tigers are 4-2-2 on the young season.