STORRS, Conn. - The UConn men's soccer team will ride into Saturday's game with No. 13 SMU on a high note, as goals from junior Abdou Mbacke Thiam and sophomore Niko Petridis led the Huskies to a 2-0 win over Yale on Halloween at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium.
Thiam tallied his 10th goal of the season on a penalty kick in the 21st minute, while Petridis added his goal in the 58th, to help the Huskies (8-6-2, 4-2-0 American) snap their three-game losing skid.
UConn outshot the Bulldogs, 12-8, while holding an 8-3 advantage in corner kicks on Tuesday night. On the defensive side, the Huskies held Yale to just two shots on goal - with redshirt senior goalkeeper Scott Levene making a pair of saves.
"We're very good at putting opposing teams under pressure; I think that's when we're at our best," said Levene. "I can play higher (in the box) when that happens and it suits our team with the pace we play."
-- UConn Men's Soccer (@UConnMSOC) November 1, 2017
The Huskies kept the Elis pressured all night, dominating the possession right from the start. It was the offensive pressure that led to UConn's first goal, as redshirt junior Dylan Greenberg streaked to the net and was taken down - resulting in a penalty kick.
Thiam buried the PK with a shot to the lower left corner to put the Huskies in front, 1-0. In three straight seasons at UConn, Thiam has recorded double-digit goals for the team - now sitting with 31 for his career.
— UConn Men's Soccer (@UConnMSOC) October 31, 2017
UConn could have added to the lead before halftime, but redshirt sophomore Nkosi Burgess' shot was yanked wide in the 36th and freshman Nicolas Apostol's strike was punched over the crossbar in the 40th. Yale goalie Andrew Bortey made six saves in the loss.
Petridis added to the 1-0 halftime lead with his score just 13 minutes into the second half, running with Thiam on a breakaway, who set him up for a shot that beat Bortey in the right corner. It was Petridis' third goal of the season and Thiam's team-best fourth assist.
From there, the UConn defense held firm - led by Greenberg, Burgess, and redshirt senior Andrew Geres. In the 69th minute, Levene came out of the net to snag a Yale free kick in the box, keeping the shutout intact.
"One of our issues this year is tracking opposing crosses, so anytime we can win the ball further up the field and just break, any team in the country will have a problem with that. That then takes pressure off the back line," said Geres.
For the Huskies, it is their eighth shutout of the season and they improve to 8-2-2 in games that they score first this year. UConn went 5-5-2 in a 12-game home slate at Morrone Stadium in the regular season.
Focus now turns to the matchup with SMU on Saturday, the final American Athletic Conference contest of the season. A win for UConn would make it regular season champions and earn it the right to host the AAC Tournament on Nov. 10 and 12.
Kickoff with the Mustangs is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. (ET) at Westcott Field, a late start due to a football conflict at SMU.