Aug. 27, 2011
STORRS, Conn. - The University of Connecticut men's soccer team opened the regular season with a 2-0 victory over St. Francis in front of a crowd of 2,192 on a rainy afternoon. Junior captain Carlos Alvarez (Los Angeles, Calif.) scored and the St. Francis defense knocked in an own goal to make it 2-0.
With a heavy rain for much of the first half, the conditions were wet and sloppy at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium.
"This is a tournament game for us. This is what it will be like in October and November around here and in the NCAA Tournament," said UConn Head Coach Ray Reid.
The Huskies dominated possession in the opening 45 minutes and generated nine shots and five corner kicks while holding St. Francis to just one corner. The Terriers failed to generate a shot in the first half.
"We've played pretty soccer plenty of times and didn't come out with the win. This is about results. I'm happy we got the W," added Reid.
UConn had several quality chances beginning with a shot from senior Tony Cascio (Gilbert, Ariz.) at the top-left corner of the six yard box that went high at 6:30.
Senior outside back Nickardo Blake (Clarendon, Jamaica) was dangerous down the right flank for much of the contest. At 23:00, Blake beat a defender near the right corner and sent a cross in to junior Alvarez 16 yards out only to have Alvarez hit a one-time volley over the net.
UConn looked to open the scoring at 24:30 but had a goal waived off by the officials. Blake sent a long ball from midfield that was headed into the net by a Saint Francis defender. The referee had ruled that a UConn player was offside and the goal was disallowed.
Connecticut finally broke through at 43:06 with an own goal. Blake sent another dangerous cross in from the right side headed for sophomore Mamadou Doudou Diouf at the top of the six-yard box. A St. Francis defender attempted to clear the danger but deflected the ball into his own net to make it 1-0, in favor of Connecticut.
"We play as a team out there. The most important thing is that we build for next game. It's difficult to get that first goal when teams play deep like that against us. Things opened up after we got that first goal though," said Diouf.
The Huskies continued to keep possession throughout the second half with Blake pressuring from the outside. After Blake drew a foul on the right sideline, Alvarez bent in a free kick that was headed just wide by Diouf at 61:30.
UConn freshman keeper Andre Blake made his first save of the night in the 72nd minute. Saint Francis forward Gabriel Bagot found space 10 yards out on the right side and fired a low shot headed for the right corner. Blake was able to dive to his left and parry the shot away to keep it 1-0 in favor of Connecticut.
UConn made it 2-0 at 76:25 with a combination between Alvarez and Cascio. From the top of the box, Cascio put a through ball to Alvarez who placed a shot past the charging keeper into the right side of the net.
"We got the W. That's how you want to start. I told the guys before the game, `it's a first step of hopefully a long journey'. It's a good win," added Alvarez.
The Huskies finished the day with a 16-3 edge in total shots and an 8-3 edge in corner kicks.
UConn will be in action next when it hosts Michigan State at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 1. The first 150 fans in attendance will receive a free blue UConn soccer shirt.
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