Sept. 24, 2011
STORRS, Conn. - In front of a sell-out crowd of over 5,000 fans, the No. 2 UConn men's soccer squad blanked longtime rivals No. 12 St. John's, 2-0, at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium tonight in the BIG EAST Conference opener. Freshman Allando Matheson netted the game winner and sophomore Mamadou Doudou Diouf added an insurance tally. UConn recorded its fifth straight shutout as Andre Blakeneeded just one save.
Connecticut improved to 8-0-0 (1-0-0 BIG EAST) while St. John's dropped to 5-2-1 (0-1-0 BIG EAST).
Matheson now has two goals on the season with both coming in dramatic fashion to give Connecticut victories after tallying the game winner against Boston University last weekend.
Diouf continues to lead the team and now has six goals on the season.
Connecticut outshot the Red Storm, 16-6, and held a 6-1 edge in corners on the night.
With the UConn drumline leading the Goal Patrol into the stadium and the players onto the field, the Huskies came out and took momentum early in the action. Connecticut benefited from a frenzied crowd that pulled off a WHITE OUT at Morrone.
"The fans show us so much support. It's crazy. We feel like we can do anything when they are around," said Blake.
In the 13th minute, Carlos Alvarez collected the ball on the right flank outside the box after a giveaway by the St. John's defense. After dribbling past a St. John's defender, the ball was poked away towards the top of the box. Tony Casciohad space and time, but pulled his shot wide left in the face of a pair of onrushing St. John's defenders.
The Huskies had another quality chance in the 16th minute. A bouncing ball came to the Diouf at the top of the box, but his side-volley went a foot past the right post.
Connecticut was dangerous on set pieces in the first half, but was unable to drive a pair of headers past Diaz. Nickardo Blake directed a header wide off a well-driven free-kick by Max Wassermanin the 25th minute.
Matheson also connected on a header in the waning seconds, but his outstretched attempt went over the bar.
St. John's generated just two shots in the first half with both attempts going well over the crossbar. The Red Storm worked the ball well throughout the midfield in the opening 45 minutes, connecting passes with quick succession 25-30 yards away from goal.
UConn ended the half with a 4-2 edge in shots and a 3-0 advantage in corners.
Connecticut quickly picked up the offensive attack in the second half. Nickardo Blakemade a long run down the right side, beating a defender on the right side and putting a shot towards the low left side. Diaz dropped down to make the save and keep it scoreless.
The Huskies weathered the Red Storm attack in the opening 15 minutes of the half, highlighted by a tremendous save from Blake in the 58th minute.
After a trio of quick passes at the top of the box, St. John's forward Andres Vargas ripped a shot towards the top-left corner. Blake took one step and made a diving stop to rob Vargas at the left post.
"To be frank, saves like that come easy for me in the games because we work so hard during the week. All week, we work hard, we practice hard so that when the time comes in a game, I'm ready to make that save," said Blake
The Huskies looked to make it 1-0, but St. John's keeper Rafael Diaz came up with a brilliant pair of saves in the 63rd minute. Carlos Alvarez took a pass from Stephane Diop 24 yards from net and placed a shot towards the right side. Diaz parried away the shot but the rebound bounced in front to Mamadou Doudou Diouf. Diouf hit a one-time shot destined for the open net only to have Diaz recover and lunge to his left to make the save.
UConn finally broke through in the 74th minute. Junior Carlos Alvarezset up a free kick 30 yards away on the left side. Alvarez touched the ball to Sanchez on his right who swerved in a cross at the top of the six-yard box. Matheson was able to out-jump the defense and flick in his second goal of the season.
Matheson continued to generate quality chances late in the half, volleying a cross from Diop from eight yards out, forcing another save from Diaz in the 77th minute.
The Huskies continued to pressure the St. John's defense in the final 12 minutes. With 11 remaining, Alvarez drove a hard free-kick in from the left side towards the back post. Cascio rose above his defender, driving a header back towards the far post. Diaz dove to his left and parried the ball away for a corner kick.
Diouf closed out the game with 37 second remaining. After a bouncing pass from Diop 40 yards from net Diouf outraced the St. John's keeper and flicked the ball into the empty net to the delight of the 5,100 in attendance. It was Diouf's team-leading sixth goal of the season.
"I told my teammates, we don't always have to play to feet. They are such a physical team, play the ball into space. I saw it coming and beat them to it and just chipped the goalie and celebrated. I'm a forward. I live to shoot and score. I knew as soon as I shot it, it was in," said Diouf.
Connecticut will have a quick turnaround before facing instate foe Yale on Tuesday, September 27 at 7:30 p.m.