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UConn Men’s Soccer Suffers Setback In Indiana

The Huskies were outmatched by a pair of ranked opponents this weekend.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

The 18th ranked UConn Huskies men’s soccer team probably won’t be ranked anymore after suffering two defeats this past weekend in Bloomington, Indiana. Dubbed the Adidas/IU Credit Union Classic, the four team round-robin featured the Indiana Hoosiers, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Dartmouth Big Green, and UConn. The Huskies dropped both games, first to Notre Dame 3-0, and then on Sunday to Indiana 1-0. This puts UConn at 2-2 for the season.

The men took their first loss of the season on Friday, falling 3-0 to No. 24 ranked Notre Dame. The Huskies were outshot 10-4, a clinical conversion rate from the Fighting Irish. It was a physical match throughout with 24 fouls called, seven of which whistled toward UConn. Much of the game tempo was dictated between the boxes, with link-up play leaving a lot to be desired from the Huskies. UConn only secured one corner the entirety of the match.

Notre Dame opened the scoring in the 32nd minute after Blake Townes converted a giveaway in the back. Dayonn Harris had a chance at equalizing just before the half, but sailed his shot over the bar. The Fighting Irish came out guns blazing in the second half, with Aiden McFadden netting their second in the 60th minute on a cross, and Patrick Berenski bringing the tally to 3-0 seven minutes later on a corner kick.

UConn had a chance to make things interesting in the 88th minute, when a laser from Josh Burnett rattled the crossbar, but did not breach the goal line.

Freshman goalkeeper Gianluca Catalano got his second start of the season, and registered two saves in the loss.

The Huskies and the Fighting Irish are now tied 11-11-4 all-time in the series and was the first time the two teams played while ranked since 2012.

Moral victories are an overused sports cliche. But Sunday’s 1-0 loss to 2017 NCAA national runner-ups Indiana is the closest thing to one. The Hoosiers scored on a corner in the 41st minute after Andrew Gutman’s header found the near post, beating goalkeeper Austin Aviza. UConn withstood a formidable Hoosier attack for most of the first half but rallied at the break and brought the fight to Indiana in the second, quieting a raucous crowd of 3,851.

In the same vein as Friday, most of the action was in the middle, with a lot of buildup play unable to translate into concrete chances. A great opportunity came on a breakaway in the 64th minute after freshman Ibrahima Diop collected a flick-on and found himself past the back line. Seemingly clear on goal, Indiana’s centerback quickly recovered, forcing a contested shot that was kick-saved by the keeper.

Overall, the Huskies were outshot 10-to-4, although UConn held the edge in shots on goal three to two. UConn should be given credit for rallying at the break and mustering all three of their shots on goal in the second half.

Strong programs like Indiana have a habit of wearing down opponents until they brea; and once they break, the floodgates open. That didn’t happen last night; the Huskies had chances in the final minutes to make things interesting. While two losses in one weekend sting, those are positives to build from going forward in a young season, with a young team.

Random notes from the weekend:

  • Goalkeepers Gianluca Catalano and Austin Aviza split the duties, indicating the platoon seems to be the plan between the posts going forward.
  • Redshirt junior Dayonn Harris and junior Munir Saleh were both named to the 2018 Adidas/IU Credit Union Classic All-Tournament Team for their performances over the weekend.
  • Two of the four goals UConn conceded this weekend were on set pieces, something that will surely be addressed in training. As far as early-season corrections go, it’s a very fixable problem.
  • Coach Ray Reid seems to have found his back unit of Felix Metzler, Robin Lapert, Dylan Greenberg, and Jacob Hauser-Ramsey, as that group has now started all four games. Metzler, the freshman out of Germany, has acclimated himself well. In addition to his four starts, he has registered four shots on the season, two on goal.
  • The all-time series between UConn and Indiana now sits at 3-4-1.

Next Friday, the early-season gauntlet continues for UConn, where No. 23 Dartmouth comes to Morrone Stadium at 7 p.m.