Nov. 9, 2013
STORRS, Conn. – Three-time defending Rookie of the Week Cyle Larin scored two goals in a single game for the first time in his career, and No. 14 UConn defeated SMU, 5-0, Saturday night at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium to advance to the Semifinals of the inaugural American Athletic Conference Tournament. UConn will face off against UCF in Frisco, Texas at 8:30 p.m on Friday, November 15th. The Huskies move to 10-2-5 (4-0-4 The American) in 2013, while the Mustangs fall to 3-12-2 (2-4-2 The American).
UConn extends its season-best undefeated streak to 12 straight matches and improve to 10-0-2 when scoring first in a match this season. The Huskies have now won five of their last seven conference tournament matches, dating back to 2011.
Zuniga opened up the scoring at the 41:58 mark when UConn senior midfielder Colin Bradley sent a ball into the box to junior Allando Matheson, who headed the ball on net at SMU goalkeeper Jaime Ibarra. Ibarra bobbled the ball, giving Zuniga a chance to get a head on it and send it into the back of the net to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead.
Connecticut’s final four goals all came in the second half starting at the 55:08 mark when Larin collided with a charging Ibarra at the top of the box and then gathered the rebound and buried his shot into an open net. Larin’s second goal of the match came less than 10 minutes later at 66:54 when Beso chipped a beautiful through ball to a streaking Larin in the box, who flicked the ball over Ibarra and into the net. Larin has now scored in six of the last seven matches and becomes the first Husky to reach double-digit goals in 2013.
The Huskies extended their lead at the 69:41 mark UConn senior midfielder George Fochive scored his second career goal, ripping a shot into the net from the top right corner of the box after a Connecticut corner kick.
Junior forward Allando Matheson capped off the night in style when he scored his eighth goal of the season with just 0:01 second remaining in regulation. Matheson took a long lob from Kareem Morad and spun around before sending a left-footed shot past Ibarra.
UConn had several scoring chances in the first half, putting five shots on goal. In the 5th minute, UConn freshman defender Kwame Awuah sent a beautiful ball into the box, which found freshman Cyle Larin right in front of the net. Larin drilled a header on net, but the ball went right to Ibarra, who made the save.
Zuniga nearly scored earlier in the 23rd minute after collecting the ball off of a deflection in the center of the box and flicking the ball to a seemingly empty net. SMU defender Jacob Speed charged forward and blocked the shot at the goal line, knocking it away from danger.
In the 44th minute, the Huskies had another look at an open net, as Larin dribbled past Ibarra in the right side of the box and fired a shot, but the ball missed wide right.
The Mustangs had a couple chances in the opening 45 minutes, recording five shots on goal. In the 28th minute, SMU midfielder Andrew Morales curled a dangerous shot from 25 yards, but he couldn’t get it by UConn goalkeeper Andre Blake, who made a great jumping save, poking the ball out of bounds. Moments later on the SMU corner kick, the ball was deflected off a crowd of UConn defenders into a dangerous area in the box towards Mustang defender Deshaw Nembhard, who was unable to get a shot on goal before the Husky defense swarmed him.
Blake was sensational Saturday, earning his fourth straight shutout for the Huskies. He has eight shutouts on the season, and he finished the match with six saves.
“Andre Blake is one of the best players we’ve ever had at this school,” said 17th-year head coach Ray Reid. “He gives us a full effort for 90 minutes. Our defense is great but Andre makes us even better. This guy is going to have a long career.”
The Huskies out-shot SMU, 18-7, in the match and holds a 263-110 advantage in shots over their opponents this season.
The Huskies will have the next six days off before embarking to FC Dallas Stadium for Friday’s Semifinal showdown with UCF at 8:30 p.m.