To paraphrase the youths: “last week took an L but tonight they bounce back.” The UConn men’s soccer team got back to their winning ways tonight, dispatching the Manhattan Jaspers 2-0 in their its game at Dillon Stadium. Jordan Hall opened the scoring with his seventh goal on the year, assisted by redshirt senior Dayonn Harris and Junior Djimon Johnson. Redshirt sophomore Cole Venner doubled the lead in the second half, and the Huskies secured their second shutout of the season to improve to 3-3.
The Huskies got off to a quick start, scoring in the seventh minute on yet another Harris-Hall combination. An early ball on the Dillon Stadium turf snuck in behind Manhattan’s defense that was caught on the offsides trap and Hall timed his run from the weak side perfectly, took two touches, and slotted it far post.
For the rest of the half, UConn controlled the majority of the possession, but couldn’t really mount any other notable chances. The Jaspers slowly worked themselves into the game, mounting five shots, but nothing that really threatened goalkeeper Gigi Catalano.
Manhattan looked to be one UConn mistake from leveling. The Huskies were never in any real danger, but given their current form, you could definitely sense some tightness from the players and it showed in some of their touches.
But UConn picked up its second goal in the 63rd minute, when super-sub Cole Venner received the ball on a counter. Cutting from right to left, Venner beat two defenders through fakes, and calmly slotted it past the Jasper keeper. It was a very composed finish that was much-needed to a Husky team that was wary of its 1-0 lead.
It was a good test to see how UConn handled having possession with Manhattan pressing and pushing numbers forward. This is what Yale did that gave the Huskies fits, and UConn looked much more composed, with noticeably improved off-ball movement.
- It was Jayden Reid’s first and Djimon Johnson’s second start of the season. Both flashed promise and brought an attacking edge to the lineup.
- Communication between center-backs Robin Lapert and Jake Dengler is still an issue, with way too much space given to attackers at times. Two of Manhattan’s most prominent chances came when a player had too much room and the pair didn’t know who needed to step.
- Huskies really need a more consistent attacking center-mid option on counters. One time, an Ahdan Tait stop led to a Harris counter on the wing. The Manhattan defenders funneled Harris into the middle, where he was forced to play Metzler in traffic about five yards apart from each other, effectively snuffing their own counter. Harris needs someone in the upper middle part of the park to make himself available, where UConn can then turn and open up the entire field, leading to much more options on a counter.
- After a three losses all by three goals, a win is a win is a win. Manhattan was the perfect opponent to right the ship against. Sure, the Jaspers haven’t scored yet this season, but the Huskies badly needed something — anything — to go right. While it may not seem like much now, you can only play who’s in front of you. And as the announcers noted, Manhattan is probably the best looking 0-4 team in the country.
Next up for UConn is a Friday night tilt vs. Columbia at Dillon Stadium at 7:00 p.m.