DALLAS, Texas – The UConn men’s soccer team was part of a controversial ending in the American Athletic Conference semifinals on Friday evening, falling to two-seed UCF by a 1-0 margin at Westcott Field.
Trailing by a goal in the 90th minute, junior captain Abdou Mbacke Thiam fired a free kick from the semicircle outside the box that hit underneath the crossbar – bouncing down toward the goal line and bouncing out with backspin.
The officials did not call a goal, despite strong feeling that the ball crossed the line – which video replay later confirmed, meaning it should have been a tied game. Video review is not part of the AAC Tournament, resulting in the 1-0 final in the Knights’ favor.
Thiam’s shot can be seen at the 2:03 mark of the AAC game highlights, provided below:
— American MSoccer (@American_MSoc) November 11, 2017
Quickly following Thiam’s shot, the Huskies (8-8-2, 4-3-0 American) repossessed the ball and lobbed a pass into the box – but senior midfielder Cheikh Stephane Coly’s shot went over the crossbar.
UConn’s season ends with an 8-8-2 record, as it falls in the AAC semifinals for the second-straight year. UCF advances to the AAC championship game on Sunday against the winner of the SMU/Temple game on ESPNU.
The Huskies outshot the Knights, 8-4, in the second half – dominating the majority of the play until UCF’s Yoni Sorokin broke the scoreless tie in the 73rd minute. A pass from Gorka Aperribay led Sorokin into the box, where he beat redshirt senior goalie Scott Levene.
In the final 17 minutes of regulation, UConn had several chances to score the equalizer – including a corner kick from sophomore Niko Petridis that was headed just wide of the net by sophomore Munir Saleh.
Facing a deficit in the final minute, the Huskies earned a free kick from the far side of the field and brought Levene up as an extra body in the box. Thiam’s kick was cleared, but a UCF handball was called in the semicircle – setting up the controversial ending.
Saleh and freshman Blaise N’Gague played tremendous defense throughout the match, helping the Huskies keep UCF scoreless in the first 45 minutes. Saleh played much of the game at left back, in place of the injured Dylan Greenberg.
UCF’s second-leading scorer Cal Jennings was kept in check by Saleh all night, registering just two shots – neither of which was on goal.
Levene made two saves for the Huskies, including a diving stop in the 83rd minute to keep the deficit at one goal. The Knights earned an 8-3 edge in corner kicks, but the UConn defense fought-off each attempt.
Freshman Austin DaSilva produced strong minutes for the Huskies’ offense in his first start since North Florida on Sept. 16. He recorded two shots on the night, second only to Thiam’s three.