clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

UConn men’s soccer opens season with 2-0 win over Rider

Jordan Hall bagged two goals, Ray Reid got his 300th win.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn football kicked off the fall with a win on Thursday night, and UConn’s REAL football team did their part tonight to keep the good times rolling.

In their home opener tonight at Al-Marzook Field at the University of Hartford, the men’s soccer team beat Rider 2-0 behind two goals from Jordan Hall. It was a strong start to a season full of potential for UConn, and its always nice to always open the season without resorting to last-minute heroics.

And to make things it even sweeter, it was head coach Ray Reid’s 300th victory at UConn. Reid got pensive and even a little poetic when asked about the milestone.

Just kidding.

“I don’t really care. Numbers are numbers,” Reid said.

First Half

UConn threatened early and often, with Hall opening his account just under the 20th minute. After some composed ball movement around the back, Harris found himself open on the right flank (get used to hearing that sentence). The near-post ball found Ibrahima Diop first, who either dummied it or whiffed, depending on who you talk to. Either way, the ball fell to Hall, who calmly in-stepped it home.

The Huskies continued to put pressure on, with the sophomore Diop skying an early cross from Hall, and Hall missing a breakaway chip that the Rider keeper barely got his hand on.

But it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Suspect 1v1 defending and not-so-sharp communication from the UConn backline gave Rider some good chances. UConn was especially vulnerable to overstepping and leaving acres of space for Rider to then play in to. Overall, it was a back and forth, entertaining affair, helped by the fact that the ref was letting play go on.

Second Half

Hall got his second goal of the night in the 50th minute on a header from a Harris early ball. The cross was good, but a little behind the striker, who somehow put his head onto it and directed it past Rider’s keeper.

It was one of those flukey plays where luck was definitely involved, but at the same time it highlights Hall’s nose for the goal. Although Rider outshot UConn 12-9, the Huskies’ chances were more composed. Case in point: sophomore goalie Gianluca Catalano only had to make one save on the night.

Reid was effusive in his praise of his new talisman after the game: “He brings what we really need. He’s tough, he scores goals, he fights. He’s just what we needed.”

When you factor in Hall’s breakaway, and two open nets the Huskies missed in the second half, there was potential for this to be a four or five goal blowout. But because of those missed opportunities, Rider stayed in the game and kept pressing, so it’s nice to walk away with a shutout.

Notes

  • Loyola transfer Jake Dengler has fit in seamlessly to the Husky backline, at least from a possession standpoint. He and junior Robin Lapert have good spacing, and sophomore Felix Metzler is always around to connect passes when things get dicey. The next step is to be a little tighter defensively.
  • At least for one game, there seemed to be a greater emphasis on early balls. This makes sense, considering the team speed up and down the roster. But those kind of balls require width, and only Harris seemed content on keeping his heels to the touchline.
  • As predicted in our season preview, Hall, Diop, and freshman Moussa Wade all rotated up top and out wide.
  • Head Coach Ray Reid went to his bench more than he’s accustomed to, a very good sign he’s ready to use his depth. Redshirt sophomore Cole Venner, and freshmen Jayden Reid, Djimon Johnson, Ahdan Tait, and Thomas Decottignies all saw the field.
  • Rider is no slouch. A shutout here is a tremendous start to the season. The Broncos made the NCAA tournament last year, and are picked to finish third in the MAAC this year.

Up next for UConn is an away tilt against Rhode Island on Monday, Sept. 2. Here’s a little reminder of what happened the last two sides met.