STORRS, Conn. – Redshirt junior Dylan Greenberg scored his first goal of the season in the 58th minute on Saturday night, but the No. 22/25 UConn men’s soccer team’s comeback effort fell short in a 3-2 loss to UCF at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium.
The Huskies (7-5-2, 4-1-0 American) played in front of a sellout crowd of 5,100 – first of the season - against the Knights (4-5-2, 2-2-1 American) and nearly mounted a rally in the final 19 minutes – outshooting UCF in the game, 12-9.
Freshman Josh Burnett scored his second career goal in the 78th minute to cut UCF’s lead to 3-2, capitalizing off a pass from freshman Austin DaSilva in a breakaway opportunity. UConn could not tally the equalizer in the last 12 minutes.
UConn celebrated its Pink Game for Breast Cancer Awareness on Saturday, sporting pink warm-up shirts in the pregame. It was the first home game for the Huskies in 19 days, going back to Oct. 2 against No. 1/3 Maryland.
Nothing but the goalie and the net and... GOAL!!!! pic.twitter.com/6YPiWcjH6y
— UConn Men's Soccer (@UConnMSOC) October 22, 2017
The Knights struck quickly against UConn, with Cal Jennings scoring in the third minute to give UCF a quick 1-0 lead – finishing in front after a pass from Hattabiou Barry.
Freshman Blaise N’Gague had a good chance in the 17th minute, heading a cross in the box from redshirt sophomore Nkosi Burgess, which went just wide of the net. Corner kicks in the 30th and 32nd minutes from Greenberg and sophomore Niko Petridis, respectively, also provided scoring chances in the first half.
UCF added another goal in the 54th minute, with Matias Pyysalo scoring in the bottom left corner of the net, to make it 2-0.
Later in the second half, a very physical game resulted in yellow cards for UConn’s Munir Saleh in the 63rd and UCF’s Jack McCloskey in the 73rd. The Knights racked up nine fouls to UConn’s seven.
Following one of those UCF fouls, which took place five yards outside the penalty area, Greenberg provided a highlight-reel goal – bending a free kick into the right corner of the net and beating UCF goalie Matt Rosenberg to cut the deficit to 2-1.
Four minutes later, freshman Nicolas Apostol charged the net and received a pass from junior captain Abdou Mbacke Thiam – but pushed the shot wide. No foul was awarded, despite Apostol being taken down.
The Knights stretched their lead to 3-1 in the 72nd minute when Jennings scored again – this time off a pass from Ricardo Oliveros. In the 73rd, Greenberg had another free kick from the same spot as his goal, but yanked it wide.
With UCF trying to waste time, the Huskies were able to mount a breakaway chance in the 78th, with DaSilva and Burnett passing back and forth. It ended with Burnett burying a shot to make it a one-goal game.
For UConn, it is the first loss in American Athletic Conference play and the first goals allowed to a conference opponent this season. The Huskies remain in first place, tied with SMU at the top of the standings.
The Huskies return to action on Tuesday when they travel to play No. 20 Dartmouth in Hanover, N.H. Two non-conference matches remain for UConn (Dartmouth on Oct. 24, Yale on Oct. 31).
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