Murphy’s Law is an adage that “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” For an example, look no further than the UConn men’s soccer team in 2019. The Huskies lost 1-0 to Memphis Friday afternoon at Dillon Stadium, giving up a golden goal in the first overtime period. UConn falls to 3-6-1 on the season. What started off as a promising season has derailed thanks to a combination of poor lapses, injuries, and bad luck.
On top of the dagger overtime loss, UConn was dealt a crushing blow before the whistle even blew. Jordan Hall, who’s second in the nation in goals, is out for the season with a leg injury. Hall was UConn’s primary source of goals and was the focal point of the offense along with redshirt senior Dayonn Harris.
So how did UConn look without it’s talisman up top? For stretches, not that bad. Sophomore Ibrahima Diop got the start up top, and turned in his best performance of the season. Freshman Moussa Wade was also more active, while Harris was his usual marauding self. They remained dangerous on counters, but lacked that final piece that Hall often provided.
Overall, UConn’s attack vs. the Tigers wasn’t entirely toothless, but it didn’t exactly threaten Memphis either. Defensively and in possession they continued to look better, and were much more solid defending set pieces, an area that’s plagued the Huskies all year.
Just when it looked like UConn was going to squeeze at least a tie out of nothing, Memphis dealt a crushing blow on a counter attack five minutes into the first overtime. The Tiger had a slight edge in shots (13-10), but definitely put forward more concrete chances. UConn keeper Gianluca Catalano finished with a season-high seven saves, many of which were tough, body-punishing efforts.
With Hall out, it’s all hands on deck to replace nine goals, one assist, and 29 shots. Harris can chip in some, but he’s more effective as a creator than a finisher. This means that the training wheels need to come off for the likes young attackers Jayden Reid, Moussa Wade, and Cole Venner. These were players that initially looked to be support for the season, but now it will be a baptism by fire. Freshman Wesley Leggett saw his first action of the season up top, and also will be relied on more heavily going forward.
Next up for UConn is a Tuesday tilt vs. Providence on Oct. 8, at Dillon Stadium.