STORRS, Conn. - When it came to scoring opportunities, the UConn men's soccer team was at no disadvantage on Saturday night at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium, but difficulties finding the back of the net led to a 2-1 loss to Memphis in American Athletic Conference play.
The Huskies (7-6-2, 4-2-0 American) outshot the Tigers, 16-12, mustering several golden chances in the second half to extend or retake the lead - but a goal in the 87th minute by Memphis' Brantley Bice proved too much.
Prior to the game on Saturday, UConn honored six players and one manager as part of its Senior Night ceremony. David Abunaw, Cheikh Stephane Coly, Andrew Geres, Alex Kao, Scott Levene and Santiago Muriel were all celebrated before the match with family and friends.
Freshman Nicolas Apostol scored in the 10th minute of the game, giving UConn an early 1-0 advantage and building off the pregame momentum from Senior Night. Memphis goals in the 63rd and 87th minutes, however, led to the 2-1 outcome.
"I thought we played well, but the game is won in the boxes and in the two boxes we're not very good," said head coach Ray Reid. "We're great at passing...but when it gets down to doing things players have to do, we're not good at it."
Tied 1-1 late in the game, junior Abdou Mbacke Thiam fired a header on net - which Memphis goalie Jake Leeker scrambled to stop in the 70th minute. In the 81st, freshman Austin DaSilva had a one-on-one with Leeker, but the shot was saved again.
Earlier in the half, Thiam struck a shot high over the crossbar off a pass from Apostol. In the sequence before that in the 58th, Thiam had a breakaway opportunity, but hit a pass out of the reach of freshman Josh Burnett.
"We should have had what, 10 goals tonight? The first goal we give back to them when it just dropped in the goal," said Reid. "We have to regroup and get ready for Yale."
The Huskies led 1-0 at halftime, but the Tigers scored an equalizer in the 63rd minute on a scramble in the box. Levene, UConn's goalkeeper in his 67th consecutive start, dove for the ball and knocked it out from the goal line, but the referees determined it had already crossed.
After UConn had several chances, Bice scored on an entry pass from David Zalzman for the go-ahead goal. The Huskies had eight shots on goal throughout the contest, but Leeker made seven saves for the Tigers.
Thiam and sophomore Niko Petridis assisted on Apostol's goal, with Petridis crossing the ball to Thiam, who headed it to Apostol's feet in front of the net for the tally. Thiam and Petridis combined for eight shots (six on goal) against Memphis.
"I thought we were locked in and playing like we usually do, but we had some breakdowns," said redshirt junior defender Dylan Greenberg. "We took our foot off the gas and one play can change the result. We need to focus on Yale and SMU coming up."
The Huskies return to Morrone Stadium for the home regular-season finale against Yale on Halloween Night. Kickoff on Tuesday is at 7 p.m. (ET).
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