STORRS, Conn. - Sophomore forward Abdou Mbacke Thiam (Dakar, Senegal) picked up where he left off in 2015, scoring a goal less than a minute into the season-opening match, as the No. 16 UConn men's soccer team cruised to a 3-1 victory over Iona on Friday in front of 3,714 fans at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium. The Huskies start the 2016 campaign at 1-0-0, while the Gaels drop to 0-1-0.
The Huskies improve to 8-1-1 in season openers since the 2008 campaign and move to 3-0-2 all-time against the Gaels in a series dating back to 1995.
Connecticut jumped out to a 1-0 lead just 57 seconds into the match when Kwame Awuah (Toronto, Ont.) played a ball to Thiam at the top of the box before the sophomore striker took a pair of strides toward the left post and finished from eight yards out into the bottom right corner of the net for his first score of the year.
Iona responded 2:05 later when Daniel Huertas took a pass from Matias Correa and deposited the ball into the top left corner of the net to knot the game up at 1-1.
UConn went up, 2-1, with 18 seconds remaining in the half when Alex Sanchez (Corona, Calif.) buried his second career goal, taking a pass from Cheikh Stephane Coly (Dakar, Senegal) on the left side of the box before beating Iona keeper Kellar Sirstins to his left with a left-footed strike.
Redshirt-freshman defender Nkoski Burgess (Deer Park, N.Y.) sealed the victory in the 80th minute, putting away his first career score at the 79:06-mark after receiving an endline cross from senior tri-captain Jake Nerwinski (Lawrenceville, N.J.)
Redshirt-junior keeper Scott Levene (Stamford, Conn.) picked up the victory in the net, registering four saves, while Sirstins took the loss after allowing all three Husky goals.
The Huskies had a chance in the 15th minute when freshman Niko Petridis (Norwalk, Conn.) raced down the field and corralled a pass on the endline before dropping in a cross that was knocked away by the keeper. Two minutes later, Sebastian Brems (Odense, Norway) lobbed in a cross into the box that was headed just over the crossbar by Jacob Hauser-Ramsey (Seattle, Wash.).
Greenberg has an excellent look in the 28th minute, firing a 20-yard left-footed shot that slipped left off of the netting.
In total, the Huskies out-shot the Gaels, 13-to-5, including a 7-to-2 margin in the final 45 minutes of play. Additionally, the squad held a 6-to-2 advantage in corner kick opportunities.
Connecticut continues its four-match homestand on Sunday, Aug. 28 when it welcomes Nebraksa-Omaha to Storrs for a 7 p.m. showdown. The game will mark the first meeting between the teams in school history.