Sept. 4, 2011
STORRS, Conn. - Led by sophomore forward Mamadou Doudou Diouf (Dakar, Senegal), the No. 4/5 Huskies routed No. 7/12 California tonight, 4-1, in front of a sellout crowd of over 4,400 fans at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium. The Huskies improved to 3-0-0 while Cal dropped to 1-1-1. Freshman goalkeeper Andre Blake(May Pen, Jamaica) recorded two saves on the night.
UConn stifled a powerful California attack all game, limiting the Golden Bears to just eight total shots but it was Diouf who stole the show. The sophomore forward scored from the run of play in the 17th minute and successfully converted penalty kicks in the 47th and 83rd minutes. It was the first UConn hat trick since senior Tony Cascio(Gilbert, Ariz.) netted three against South Florida on September 24, 2010.
Diouf opened the scoring at 16:06 with a shot into the lower right corner after a well-placed through ball from Cascio.
"We didn't know a lot about them coming in, but we have a great attack and wanted to get behind them. That's what we did. If we play our style, our football, we can be great," said Diouf.
UConn was unable to open the game up in the first half but had several quality chances, highlighted by a quick toe-poke from junior Stephane Diop(Dakar, Senegal) after a give-and-go with Cascio in the box that went inches past the right post in the 35th minute.
UConn went into the half up, 1-0, holding a 6-4 edge in shots.
Diouf quickly made it 2-0 with his second goal of the game at 46:25. Heading towards goal, Diouf touched the ball past the onrushing Cal keeper but was brought down before being able to slide home the shot. Diouf calmly chipped his penalty kick into the top-left corner.
UConn looked to open the game up but California closed the gap to 2-1 with a flicked header from Michael Munoz off a long throw-in from the right side in the 61st minute.
"We were good on the attack tonight, dangerous. We need to get better in the back though. It was a good result, but now we have to get ready and go to Tulsa for two tough games next week," said UConn Head Coach Ray Reid.
Connecticut regained the two-goal cushion with a well-executed series of passing, finished with a strike from Cascio in the 62nd minute. Sophomore Colin Bradley (West Hartford, Conn.) headed the ball along the left sideline to junior Carlos Alvarez(Los Angeles, Calif.). Alvarez found Cascio at the top of the box who blasted a shot into the top-left corner. It was Cascio's first goal of the season with Alvarez and Bradley picking up their second and first assists, respectively.
The Huskies finished off California with another penalty shot by Diouf in the 82nd minute. After Cascio was brought down just inside the top of the box by a Cal defender, Diouf got the keeper going to his left and placed the ball into the open left side of the net to complete the hat trick and record his fourth goal of the season.
It looked like UConn was going to make it 5-1 in the 87th minute but a shot from Alvarez destined for the right side of the net was cleared off the line by a Cal defender.
UConn dominated for much of the second half and outshot California, 13-4 in the final 45 minutes. The Huskies finished with a 19-8 edge in shots.
"We are getting better in the back and as a team each game," said freshman goalkeeper Andre Blake. "We need to keep getting better though. We are doing well, but the teams we play are very strong all year. I think we can only get better and want to prove we are a team to beat."
Connecticut will hit the road for four-straight games, starting with the Hurricane Classic in Tulsa, Okla. UConn will face Tulsa on Friday, September 9 at 8:35 p.m. (EST). Connecticut will then play Southern Methodist on Sunday, September 11 at 12:30 p.m. (EST). Tulsa advanced to the NCAA Second Round last year while SMU advanced all the way to the NCAA Quarterfinals a year ago. UConn also travels to Boston University on Friday, Sept. 16 at 7:00 p.m. and Boston College on Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 7:00 p.m.
UConn will return home to face long-time rival St. John's on Saturday, September 24 at 7:30 p.m. at Morrone Stadium. Be sure to get your tickets early for the much-anticipated contest. The UConn drumline will make an appearance along with the UConn cheerleaders and Jonathan, the UConn Husky.