STORRS, Conn. – University of Connecticut sophomore forward Cyle Larin (Brampton, Ontario) registered his 15th career goal in a losing effort for the No. 8 UConn men’s soccer team, which fell to No. 17 Coastal Carolina, 3-2, in the team’s season opener Friday night in front of a crowd of 4,385 fans at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium.
The Huskies, who lost their first home opener since 2006, went up 2-0 in the 51st minute following an own goal by Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers responded quickly, starting in the 55th minute when defender Ollivier Gueguen deflected forward Ricky Garbanazo’s shot into the UConn net past redshirt junior goalkeeper Jacob Wagmeister (River Edge, N.J.).
Garbanzo would play a part in Coastal’s next two goals as well, assisting on the equalizer in the 61st minute before he headed in the game-winner in the box off a cross from defender Elis Bjornsson in the 71st minute.
"Coastal is a very good team," men's soccer coach Ray Reid said. "They stretched us and we have to make some adjustments and we will and we'll be fine."
Larin opened the scoring for the Huskies early in the match, putting away his first goal of the season in the 8th minute. The score was set up by a beautiful through ball from forward Ethan Vanacore-Decker (Manahawkin, N.J.), who threaded the ball to Larin near the top right corner of the Coastal Carolina box, where Larin gathered the pass and ripped a shot past a Coastal goalkeeper Devin Cook-Perales.
Connecticut’s second quality scoring opportunity came in the 30th minute, as Larin nearly doubled his goal total for the night on UConn’s only corner of the first half. Senior midfielder Adria Beso Marco (Lleida, Spain) sent in the cross to Larin, who headed the ball directly in front of the Coastal goal, but his shot was blocked and the attack was cleared.
UConn saw two great scoring chances in the second half from Larin and Decker. An error by the Coastal defense left Larin alone with Cook-Perales in the 59th minute, and the UConn forward sidestepped Cook-Perales before firing a shot from 30 yards out that missed wide left.
Decker finished the game with two shots on goal and nearly pulled UConn even in the second half when he curled a shot in near the top of the box in the 65th minute after Cook-Perales came off his line. Decker’s ball floated over the defense towards the top right corner of the box, where midfielder Michael Millay headed the ball out of bounds, clearing the line.
The Chanticleers outshot the Huskies, 8-2, in the first 45 minutes, putting two shots on goal. Coastal appeared to tie the match in the 42nd minute when defender Ridge Robinson fired a shot from the left side that deflected into the net off of Garbanzo. Garbanzo was called for offsides through, and the Chanticleers didn’t threaten the UConn defense in the remaining minutes of the first period.
Coastal finished with a 16-9 shot advantage and attempted two (7-5) more corner kicks than the Huskies. Wagmeister made five saves in the loss, while Cook-Perales finished with two stops.
Connecticut returns to the pitch on Monday at home against Stony Brook. The match is set for 7 p.m. and admission will be free for all UConn students.