Sept. 14, 2013
STORRS, Conn. - The No. 3 University of Connecticut men's soccer team suffered its first loss of the season on Saturday night with a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Bradley at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium. With the loss, the Huskies fall to 2-1-1 while the Braves improve to 3-2-0.
The Connecticut defense allowed its first goal of the season 2:30 into the contest when Zach Kovacevic successfully converted a penalty kick, despite goalkeeper Andre Blake's valiant effort to knock the ball away. The goal snapped Blake's 293 minute scoreless streak.
UConn outplayed Bradley for much of the first half, holding a 7-3 edge in shots and a 5-1 advantage in corner opportunities. In the 20th minute, junior Edir DaGraca gathered the ball at the top of the box and fired a shot from 15 yards out that soared high and wide right. Two minutes later, Cyle Larin sent a through-ball to DaGraca in the middle of the box, but the midfielder couldn't get a shot off as goalkeeper Brian Billings came sliding in to grab the loose ball.
In the 34th minute, DaGraca took a free-kick and passed the ball to Mamadou Diouf, who one-timed a shot that was deflected away by the Bradley defensive wall. In the 38th minute, defender Jakob Nerwinski sent a beautifully placed cross into the box which was initially mishandled by Billings, but cleared away by the Braves' defenders .
Bradley's best first half chance came in the 29th minute, when Christian Okeke broke away from the Connecticut backline and almost reached the top of the box before Michael Mercado made a perfectly -timed slide tackle to break up the play.
In the second half, Larin had the Huskies' best opportunity of the game when he took a shot that clanged off the left post and into Billings' arms. Connecticut had six corner opportunities in the second half, but couldn't capitalize.
With just eight minutes remaining, DaGraca got a good look from 20 yards out, sending a curling shot towards the top right of the net, but it was saved. Blake played all 90 minutes, making one save. He falls to 2-1-1 on the young season. The Huskies took 20 total shots, five of which were saved by Billings. The senior improves to 3-2-0 this year.
There were four Husky players with at least three shots, as DaGraca led the team with a game-high four.
The Huskies will hit the road for the first time this season when they take on Syracuse this Tuesday, September 17th at 7:00 p.m. The next home match will be Saturday, September 21st at 7:00 p.m. when Connecticut takes on Saint Louis.