Oct. 5, 2013
STORRS, Conn. - The No. 24 University of Connecticut men's soccer team overcame an early 2-0 deficit and earned a 2-2 draw with the UCF Knights on Saturday night at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium in front of a sellout crowd. Connecticut moves to 3-2-4 (0-0-3 The American), while UCF stands at 3-4-3 (1-1-1 The American).
The Knights got the scoring started in the 13th minute, when Romario Williams connected on his fifth goal of the season on a direct free kick from 23 yards out. The forward's shot curled around the UConn wall and soared past the outstretched Andre Blake into the top right of the goal. Williams earned his 10th point of the year, having tallied five goals for the Knights.
UCF took a 2-0 lead at the 34:59 mark when Williams received a long pass from the midfield and threaded a through-ball to Omar Vallejo, who one-timed a shot into the bottom left of the goal. Vallejo picked up his second score of 2013 and became just the second Central Florida player to have two or more goals this season, trailing Williams' five.
UConn's first score came with just one second remaining in the first half. Freshman Jakob Nerwinski laced a pass to Allando Matheson, who gathered the pass with his left foot before turning and burying a shot into the top right corner of the net. For the junior forward, it was his first goal of 2013 after scoring seven in 2012.
Despite being outscored 2-1, the Husky offense dominated possession during the first half and out-shot the Knights 12-3. Connecticut had an excellent chance in the 38th minute when Adria Beso sent a through-ball into the box to Cyle Larin who stopped, juked, and took a shot from a tough angle that flew just past the far post and away from danger.
The Huskies netted the equalizer at 57:36 when Beso sent a beautiful cross in from the left wing towards the center of the box where Larin headed home his third goal of the season from six yards out to bring the score to 2-2.
At 62:06, Decker took a free kick from 30 yards out and sent in a low line drive to Matheson, who was able to corral the pass, but his shot was blocked by the Central Florida defense in the middle of the box.
With 17:00 left in regulation, Nerwinski found space in the upper right corner of the box but was pressured by the UCF center back and fired his shot 10 yards over the crossbar and into crowd.
There were no shots in the final 9:43 of regulation, as the teams traded possession in the midfield.
Blake preserved the tie at the 91:20 mark when he successfully saved a low-bouncing UCF free-kick attempt from just outside the box.
The Huskies nearly found more late magic with 20 seconds remaining in the first overtime when Matheson sent a cross to Edir DaGraca who tapped a pass over to Larin. Larin slid but his blistering shot right went straight into the chest of Sebastian Evers, who collapsed to the ground and covered the ball.
In the 102nd minute, Blake was replaced by redshirt-sophomore Jacob Wagmeister for precautionary reasons. Blake finished the contest with two saves, while Wagmeister was credited with one save on a tough bouncer from 30 yards out.
Connecticut's final chance came with 33 seconds left when Matheson launched a shot from 20 yards out that soared high and wide of the post.
The Huskies outshot the Knights 24-7 in the match. Evers was credited with five saves on the night.
"We're going to come out and be ready to play on Wednesday," said head coach Ray Reid. "This team has a lot of fight in them."
Tonight's match was the first time that the Husky defense allowed multiple goals in nearly a year, dating back to a 3-2 loss against Marquette on October 6th, 2012.
Connecticut returns to the pitch on Wednesday, October 9th at 7:00 p.m. when it takes on Rutgers at Morrone Stadium. Tickets can be purchased by calling 1-877-AT-UCONN.