Mike Pezza (above) and the Huskies will open BIG EAST play on Friday at Villanova.
Sept. 13, 2009
HANOVER, N.H. - With his 29th career shutout, redshirt junior Josh Ford and the No. 18/24 University of Connecticut men's soccer team battled Iona College to a scoreless tie in double overtime in the Huskies' final game of the NIKE Hypertherm Classic at Burnham Field in Hanover, N.H. on Sunday afternoon.
Ford finished the game with three saves as the Huskies competed in their second consecutive scoreless tie this season. With the outcome, the Huskies' record moves to 1-1-2 overall as Iona drops to 2-1-1.
In Sunday's contest, Ford also made his 50th consecutive start for the Huskies in net, breaking the UConn all-time record of 49 set by Jonathan Demeter in the early 1970s (Ford tied the record in Friday night's match against Dartmouth).
With Ford’s effort throughout the weekend, the redshirt-junior was named the NIKE Hyperthern Classic Goalkeeping MVP of the tournament. Ford made10 saves in two games, while picking up his second and third shutouts of the season.
The Huskies' first solid scoring opportunity of the game came in the 17th minute as sophomore Tony Cascio dodged a defender and connected on a hard ground shot from inside the box that was scooped up by Iona goalkeeper, Nils Binstock.
Iona's scoring attempts early in the first half were halted by the Huskies' stern defense as a corner and a cross from the Gaels' Fernando Liserra was cleared out of the box by senior defender Kwame Watson-Siriboe.
Junior Alan Ponce was able to free himself in the goal area in the 24th minute as he made a cut towards the inside of the box and got a shot off that was deflected off the hands of Binstock, who finished the afternoon with four saves.
The Huskies' had another solid look at net as junior Greg King crossed the ball from in front of the Iona bench and found junior Thomas Wharf in the goal box, as Wharf's header missed wide of the target.
Iona's Giovanni Destasio's shot in the 27th minute was stopped by Ford, before he made another stop on a Mario Rios shot from the top of the box about 15-yards out. UConn came out in the second half and continued its aggressive attack on the Gaels' defense. A free kick by UConn in the 52nd minute by senior Mike Pezza just missed a cutting Watson-Siriboe in the center of the box as his kick went wide of the net resulting in a goal kick. Midway through the second half, a pass from senior Toni Stahl was stolen about 30-yards out by Iona's Liserra, who drilled a shot high over the crossbar and out of play.
With 14 minutes left in regulation, Ford made another great save as Liserra's cross from the far side of the field found Destasio, who connected on the ball with a diving header, but came up short as Ford was there to make the save. A minute later, Alexander Haxhari broke down field with a one-on-one situation but rushed his shot, missing wide right as he felt the UConn defensive pressure caving in on him.
With five seconds left in regulation, Watson-Siriboe headed a corner by Pezza and just missed scoring the game-winning goal as a Gaels' defender cleared the ball out of the goal box as the Huskies caught Binstock out of position in net.
In the first overtime, UConn's Stephane DIOP's header off a Pezza corner kick missed wide of the net, marking the Huskies' first shot of the overtime period. UConn earned a corner kick with three minutes remaining in the first overtime period but Pezza's kick was grabbed out of the air by to keep the game scoreless.
Cascio's shot with less than two minutes remaining in the second overtime period went wide and hit the side of the net, which ended up as the Huskies' last scoring chance of the game. Iona's last corner opportunity with eight seconds left was punched out of the net by Ford, halting the Gaels' scoring chances and ending the game in a scoreless tie.
UConn's Ponce recorded two shots on goal to lead the Huskies, while both teams recorded eight shots in the Huskies' fifth neutral site tie in program history.
The Huskies will open BIG EAST Conference play on Friday, Sept. 18 with a 4:00 p.m. match-up at Villanova before traveling to Piscataway, N.J. to take on Rutgers in a Sunday night league battle at 7:00 p.m.