STORRS, Conn. – Freshman forward Abdou Mbacke Thiam buried a penalty shot with 4:55 left in overtime to propel the UConn men’s soccer team to a 2-1 win over USF on Saturday night at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium in the Huskies’ regular season finale. Connecticut wraps up 2015 regular season play at 7-5-5, while USF drops to 10-4-3.
With the victory, UConn earned the right to host an American Athletic Conference quarterfinal tilt on Saturday, Nov. 7 by virtue of finishing in the top-four in the regular season standings. The third-seeded Huskies will host sixth-seeded Temple at 7 p.m.
The Huskies move to 10-2-3 all-time against the Bulls in a series dating back to 1988. Saturday’s tilt marked the fifth meeting between the two teams in the last two seasons.
Redshirt-sophomore Andrew Geres, who earned his first career start, gave the Huskies a 1-0 lead at the 16:50 mark when he took a through-ball from junior co-captain Kwame Awuah and deposited a right-footed shot into the upper left corner of the net. For Geres, the score was his second of the season, while Awuah nabbed his team-leading seventh assist on the scoring play.
USF knotted the game up at 81:14 when Nazeem Bartman tallied his team-leading seventh score of the year, assisted by Lindo Mfeka.
The Huskies improve to 6-1-1 when scoring first in 2015 and also move to 3-0-1 when leading at halftime.
Redshirt-sophomore keeper Scott Levene earned his seventh victory of the season in net, making four saves. His counterpart, Spasoje Stefanovic stopped one Husky shot.
In the eighth minute, Awuah found space on the edge of the box and sent in a rising cross toward freshman forward Abdou Mbacke Thiam who headed an attempt that clanged off the near post and was cleared out by the defense.
Midway through the first half, junior midfielder Sebastian Brems settled a bouncing ball in the shot and pushed a shot over the crossbar. In the waning minutes, Awuah blasted a shot on net from point-blank range but it was knocked away by a diving Stefanovic.
Levene made a pair of excellent saves with 22 minutes remaining, stopping Melvin Becket from point-blank range.
Connecticut held a 9-to-1 shot advantage in the first half and also held a 1-to-0 edge on corner kicks in the opening period. Throughout the 90-minute match, UConn outshot South Florida by a 13-to-9 margin.