Nov. 13, 2011
HARRISON, N.J. - The No. 4/3 UConn men's soccer team suffered a heart-breaking defeat in the BIG EAST Championship today at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J., falling to arch rival St. John's in overtime, 1-0. St. John's junior Jack Bennett scored the game-winning goal 6:16 into the first overtime.
UConn dropped to 17-3-2 while St. John's moves to 14-6-2.
UConn came into the game at No. 4/3 in the national polls and No. 3 in the latest RPI. The Huskies are in line for a top seed and a bye in the NCAA First Round.
After a back-and-forth 90 minutes that saw Connecticut squander several chances, St. John's buried the first chance for either side in overtime.
Junior midfielder Jack Bennett put home the game-winning goal after a mishap in the UConn defensive third. After a failed pass by the UConn defense, Bennett took four dribbles and calmly placed his shot into the right side netting from 10 yards out.
Connecticut was gunning for its eighth BIG EAST Tournament title. Instead it was St. John's winning their BIG EAST record ninth tournament title.
"We've played 22 games and won 17 of them. I thought we played pretty good today too. I think this team will learn more from this than had we won nit. That's how these guys learn, from touching the hot stove. We are getting ready for the NCAA Tournament. That's what this game was for," said Head Coach Ray Reid.
The Huskies had the better of the play in the first half with Jossimar Sanchez, Andrew Jean-Baptiste and Colin Bradleyconsistently causing turnovers and transitioning play into possession for Connecticut.
UConn failed to capitalize on several opportunities throughout the half, beginning 5:50 into the contest. Sanchez ripped a shot from 25 yards out towards the left side of goal. St. John's keeper Alex Naples made the save but fumbled the ball into the middle of goal. UConn was unable to bounce on the rebound as the SJU defense cleared it away from danger.
At 13:40 Carlos Alvarez sent in a corner from the right side. Nickardo Blakewas first to the ball but his volley from 16 yards out was blocked by a diving St. John's defender. The St. John's defense made several diving efforts to block UConn shots.
St. John's was dangerous on the wings in the early part of the half and had its best chance with a cross from the left side that was flicked over the bar on a header from Jack Bennett from just eight yards out.
Connecticut knocked on the door several times in a four minute stretch beginning in the 19th minute.
Mamadou Doudou Diouf had two golden opportunities in a 30 second span beginning at 18:15. Tony Cascio outhustled a St. John's defender on the left sideline and sent in a cross for Diouf. His shot was blocked away from 12 yards out. Just 30 seconds later, Diouf found himself all alone in the box after a pass from Colin Bradleybut blasted his shot on a bouncing ball well over the bar.
Bradley also failed to hit the net in the 23rd minute. With Naples out of his box after a failed clearance attempt, Bradley attempted to put a bouncing ball into the open net but sent his attempt wide right from 30 yards out.
UConn maintained possession for the majority of the final 20 minutes but had several attempts from Cascio and freshman Allando Mathesonblocked by the St. John's back line.
UConn finished the half with a 10-5 edge in shots. Both Andre Blakeand Alex Naples needed just one save in the first half.
The Huskies generated decent opportunities in the second half via the free kick. After fouls in the St. John's half. Alvarez was able to drive dangerous balls into the box directed for Nickardo Blake, Jean-Baptiste and Diouf.
St. John's nearly broke the deadlock with an excellent one-time volley by Nick Matthews at the far post. After a long cross from the left side, Matthews found time and space along on the right side of the box. His one-time volley curled just wide of the right post at 78:30.
The two teams ended regulation tied in shots on goal, 13-13, with UConn ahead in corner kicks, 4-1.
UConn had four players on the All-Tournament Team: >pre> Andrew Jean-Baptiste Mamadou Doudou Diouf Stephane Diop Carlos Alvarez The Huskies will wait for the NCAA Selection Show to determine their fate for the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA First Round is scheduled to begin on Thursday, November 17 with the Second Round on Sunday, November 20. The selection show is set for Monday, November 14 at 4:30 p.m. on NCAA.com.