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UConn men’s soccer nets perfect week

The Huskies are 3-0-1 in their last four games.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

Don’t look now, but UConn men’s soccer is heating up. The Huskies are 6-6-2 overall and 3-3-2 in the Big East, but haven’t lost since Oct. 8 after going 3-0-1 in their last four games. Gbandi’s boys are fresh off a perfect week, shutting out Villanova on the road, 1-0, then returning home to dispatch DePaul 1-0 on Ray Reid Night.

The Huskies outshot DePaul 19-3, with Okiem Chime bagging his third goal of the season in the 24th minute. UConn is led by a balanced attack up front; Chime, grad transfer Frantz Pierrot, and sophomore Scott Testori all have three goals apiece. Sophomore midfielder Mateo Leveque leads the team in points with two goals and five assists on the year. Freshmen forwards, Eli Conway and Christian Dionne, along with junior Soren Ilsoe, have looked dangerous going to goal, while senior captain Jayden Reid has been a rock of stability at left wingback.

Conway was just named Big East freshman of the week for his game-winner vs. Villanova on Wednesday, while Chime and goalkeeper Michael Stone were given honor roll status, Chime’s second such distinction of the year.

Gbandi had UConn moving the ball well earlier in the season, but mistakes in the back and a lack of clinical finishing meant the results were lacking. Now, sophomores Bjorn Nikolajewski and Guillaume Vacter, along with junior Josh Morgan, have tightened up the backline, Chime is in form up top, and the team is gelling on all fronts.

The Huskies were once 11th in the conference after dropping back-to-back games vs. Xavier and Butler. They’ve now fought their way up to fifth, with St. John’s and Georgetown still to play. A top-six finish, and a conference tournament berth, is certainly a possibility. Nobody will mistake UConn for a team to march through the NCAA tournament, but the impact Gbandi’s had in Year 1 is undeniable. And with only two seniors on the team (Pierrot and goalkeeper Michael Stone), UConn’s trajectory back to national powerhouse status certainly seems to have skipped a few steps in 2022.

The Huskies will take on Stonehill for a quick out-of-conference game this Wednesday, at 7 p.m. They then head to Queens, NY to face the Red Storm on Saturday, at 7 p.m.

Andre Blake: GOAT

It’s not just current Huskies thriving, Andre Blake of the Philadelphia Union continues to prove why he’s the best goalkeeper in North America. Yes, I said it. Sorry Matt Turner and Zach Steffen, but if Blake played for the Stars and Stripes, he’d be number one on the depth chart.

Blake was named MLS’s 2022 All-State Goalkeeper of the Year, and has backed up the honor with a dominant performance in the playoffs. Blake made saves like this look routine vs. FC Cincinnati.

He had FC Cinci fans saying out loud; “who IS this guy?” in bars all across the Queen City. Husky fans looking to adopt a team for the MLS playoffs have to get behind the Union, the man deserves all of the trophies.