PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Junior Abdou Mbacke Thiam got the scoring started on Saturday night, while sophomore Niko Petridis finished it, as the UConn men’s soccer team earned a 2-0 win over Temple in the American Athletic Conference opener.
The Huskies (3-2-2, 1-0-0 American) used a mix of efficient offense and stifling defense to hold off the Owls, leading to a conference victory on the road at the Temple Sports Complex. UConn remains unbeaten all-time against Temple (6-0-3).
Thiam tallied his fifth goal of the season in the 26th minute, gathering the ball off a pass from sophomore Munir Saleh after freshman Blaise N’Gague’s shot was blocked by a Temple defender. Thiam’s shot beat Temple goalkeeper Alex Cagle to the left corner, giving the Huskies a 1-0 lead.
UConn’s defense controlled Temple’s offensive attack, keeping the Owls scoreless and picking up its third shutout win of the season. Redshirt senior goalkeeper Scott Levene tied his career-high with seven saves.
In the 80th minute, the Huskies sealed the game with Petridis’ first goal of 2017 on a breakaway opportunity – nailing a low shot past Cagle, who came out from the goal to meet Petridis further out in the box. Senior Alex Kao and freshman Austin DaSilva recorded assists on the play.
Saturday’s game was the first time this season that UConn received goals from multiple players in the same match. Despite being outshot 14-7, the Huskies proved more efficient – scoring twice with just four shots on goal.
Hanging onto a 1-0 edge, Levene made saves in the 57th and 77th minutes, doing his part in maintaining the shutout. The Owls had a 7-1 edge in corner kicks, but the UConn defensive backline was up to the challenge.
Four yellow cards were distributed throughout the match, as physical play resulted in several foul calls. In total, the Huskies and Owls combined for 32 fouls – the second game that UConn has played in with 30-plus fouls this season.
After getting the 1-0 advantage midway through the first half, UConn’s defense was put to the test before halftime. Temple had several chances, including a shot in the box that junior Jacob Hauser-Ramsey blocked in the 41st minute. The ensuing corner kick for the Owls was cleared away.
The Huskies improve to 2-2-1 in conference openers since joining the American in 2013 and 2-0-1 in their last three matches, after starting the season at 1-2.
UConn returns home to Joseph J. Morrone Stadium this week for a three-game stretch in six days, hosting Providence (Sept. 26), Tulsa (Sept. 29) and No. 3 Maryland (Oct. 2). Follow the Huskies on Twitter at @UConnMSOC for promotional updates.