Nov. 17, 2013
FRISCO, Texas - The No. 11 UConn men's soccer team battled USF to a 0-0 tie Sunday afternoon in the American Athletic Conference Championship final, but fell to the Bulls, 6-5, in a penalty kick shootout. With the draw, the Huskies move to 11-2-6 in 2013 and will await seeding, pairing and location for the 2013 NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Championship. The NCAA Selection Show is set for Monday, Nov. 18 at 12 p.m.
After 110 minutes of action, a 0-0 tie forced the match into a shootout to see which team would claim in inaugural conference crown. The Huskies had two opportunities to seal the deal after junior keeper Andre Blake turned away consecutive attempts from USF's Isaiah Ferguson and Nikola Paunic, but Brentton Muhammad was up to the task for the Bulls, stopping shots from Nicholas Zuniga and George Fochive. After Duane Muckette connected on USF's ninth opportunity, Muhammed was able to get a body on freshman Kwame Awuah's bid, giving the Bulls the conference title.
The Huskies out-shot the Bulls 13-7 through the first 110 minutes and held a 5-4 edge in corners for the match. Blake earned his 10th shutout and has now blanked opponents in five straight matches. The May Pen, Jamaica holds a 0.49 goals against average through UConn's first 19 matches.
UConn freshman forward Cyle Larin had several chances to get the Huskies on the board starting in the 8th minute when freshman defender Jakob Nerwinski threaded him a pass in the box. Larin gathered the ball and ripped a shot, but it was blocked by a USF defender.
In the 23rd minute, UConn junior midfielder Adria Beso sent a great ball off a set piece to senior forward Mamadou Diouf, who flicked the ball to Larin in the box before Muhammad charged forward to scoop the ball and thwart the chance.
Nerwinski and Larin paired up again for another great scoring chance in the 33rd minute when the defender crossed the ball to an open Larin right in front of the net. The Brampton, Ontario native was able to get a head on the cross, sending it towards the net, but Muhammad was there for the save.
Connecticut's defense was solid in the opening 45 minutes, holding the Bulls to just two shots, none of which were on goal.
USF's best chance in the period came when Bulls defender Wesley Charpie found himself in the box with the ball in the 11th minute. Charpie turned and fired a shot that missed wide right, hitting off the side of the net. In the 33rd minute, USF forward Edwin Moalosi crossed a ball towards the top of the box to Bulls forward Stiven Salinas, who was unable to get a shot off before the Connecticut defense swarmed him.
In the second half, the Huskies again dominated possession, putting four shots on net in the period. Larin nearly put away the game-winner in the 52nd minute when Beso sent a ball into him towards the left side of the box. The freshman was positioned perfectly in front of the net and jumped up to head the pass, but Beso's lob flew just over his head and over the end line.
In the 57th minute, Diouf found some space and rifled a shot from the top of the box that curled right in toward Muhammad',who knocked the ball out of danger.
A give-and-go in the box by Larin and Zuniga provided UConn with a great scoring chance in the 60th minute, as Zuniga received a pass from Larin and took aim at goal before his shot was saved by Muhammad.
Minutes later, Awuah put a great shot on net, firing the ball from 22 yards out towards the top half of the net. Muhammad came up with an acrobatic save, jumping up to punch the ball away.
UConn had one final chance in the waning minutes of regulation, as a deflection gave DaGraca the ball in the box with space to shoot. The junior fired a strike that sailed high and into the stands.
The Bulls best chance in the second half came in the 47th minute when Salinas found Ferguson right in the middle of the box. Ferguson was able to get a foot on the cross, and sent a shot the sailed just over the crossbar.
Both teams had very few scoring opportunities in the two sudden-victory overtimes. The Huskies best look at goal came at the 92nd minute mark when DaGraca curled a shot from 22 yards out that fell right into the hands of Muhammad.
The Huskies will head into the NCAA Tournament with a 13-game unbeaten streak and a 0.44 goals against average. The Connecticut defense has not allowed a goal in 585 minutes.
American Athletic Conference Championship Awards
Most Outstanding Offensive Player
Edwin Moalosi, USF
Most Outstanding Defensive Player
Brenton Muhammad, USF
American Athletic Conference All-Tournament Team
Omar Vallejo, UCF, MF
Adria Beso, UConn, MF
Andre Blake, UConn, GK
Sergio Campbell, UConn, D
Cyle Larin, UConn, F
David Greczek, Rutgers, GK
Samuel Hosseini, USF, MF
Edwin Moalosi, USF, F
Brentton Muhammad, USF, GK
Duane Muckette, USF, MF
Stiven Salinas, USF, F