Dec. 2, 2012
STORRS, Conn. - Despite outplaying the opposition for the majority of the second half, the University of Connecticut men's soccer team allowed a goal with just 1:30 remaining and fell to Creighton, 1-0, in the NCAA Quarterfinals. UConn ends its season at 17-4-1 while Creighton (17-3-3) advances to face Indiana in the College Cup next weekend.
Sunday's match was played in front of a sell-out crowd of 5,100 fans.
"Like I said last week, the game is cruel game. You've gotta score more than they do," said UConn Head Coach Ray Reid. "You can't rely on this guy next to me (Andre Blake) all the time to pitch a shutout. If we had more time, with the character of this team, we probably get the goal back. With a minute and a half, that's tough. "
Creighton's Christian Blandon scored from six yards out during a scramble in front after a pass from Jose Gomez on the goal line. Timo Petter sent a cross through the legs of Max Wasserman on the left side. The ball rolled through the six-yard box, was tracked down by Gomez, and sent back towards the penalty spot where Blandon one-timed home the game winning goal.
UConn fell in the NCAA Quarterfinals for the second consecutive season. The loss also snaps UConn's program record 38-game unbeaten streak at home. That mark was tied for the third longest in NCAA history. UConn's senior class ends a four year period in which the Huskies went 59-13-14, outscored teams 147-39 and won the 2009 and 2012 BIG EAST Regular Season Championship.
UConn had chances in the final 1:30 but a Carlos Alvarez header from 10 yards out went wide of the left post and the Huskies failed to advance to the College Cup.
"I was desperate. It was the last minute, I just wanted to score," said Alvarez. "I owe a lot to this community. I'm thankful for all the support everyone has given me. I'm sorry I couldn't get the job done with my teammates."
"I never thought I'd feel this way, ever in my life," said UConn senior back Max Wasserman (Farmington, Conn.) "There's not much to say. This is the best group of guys I've ever been around. It's a shame."
The first half was split with each team having the better of the action for 10-15 minute stretches. The Huskies dominated the action in the opening 10 minutes.
UConn's best chance of the half came in the opening minutes. Mamadou Diouf took a pass from Carlos Alvarez in the third minute, beating the offside trap, but put his open shot from 15 yards out right into Gal's chest.
The Huskies pressed deep into the Creighton end in the opening 10 minutes but failed to score. Connecticut drew the offside flag six times in the first half.
"We were offside five times in the first half. Pure, frankly, stupidity," said Reid. "I think we were drifting and weren't tactically smart. What do you do for that besides work on beating the line at practice? I mean, if we had gotten through a little cleaner, like the one Mamadou (Diouf) had earlier in front of our bench going to goal, they would have stopped pulling that high line."
Creighton notched its first chance in the 20th minute on a shot from Bruno Castro from 22 yards out that was saved by Blake.
Creighton's best chance of the opening 45 minutes came off the foot of Christian Blandon at 36:30. Blandon took a through ball from Gomez inside the box and fired near post. Blake was leaning the wrong way and just barely got a toe on the shot to keep the game scoreless.
Alvarez nearly manufactured the game's opening goal in the final minute, beating a pair of defenders on the right side and sending a pass from the goal line through the box. Sean Weir and Allando Matheson both stretched but failed to put home the would-be goal.
At half, Creighton held an 8-3 edge in total shuts but just 2-1 in shots on goal.
Alvarez had quick chances in the opening two minutes of the second half but failed to pull the trigger from 10 yards away with a defender on his back. Diouf had a shot from 30 yards out curled into the side netting just wide of the right post at 56:40.
UConn had two incredible chances seconds apart beginning at 73:20. Carlos Alvarez drove in a corner kick from the right side. Freshman Nicholas Zuniga had a shot from 12 yards out blocked by a diving defender. The rebound fell to George Fochive whose shot towards the right side was denied by an excellent diving save by Gal.
Overtime seemed imminent until Blandon's crushing goal.