PISCATAWAY, N.J. – The No. 24 UConn men’s soccer team opened preseason play on Sunday afternoon, traveling to take on Rutgers - led by head coach and UConn alum Dan Donigan – in the first of two exhibition games in August.
Scoreless for most of the game, it was a goal by Dante Perez in the 77th minute that gave the Scarlet Knights a 1-0 victory over the Huskies at Yurcak Field. Miles Hackett assisted on the tally with a cross to the far post.
Out of the 29 players on UConn’s roster, 22 of them saw game action against Rutgers – including seven freshmen. Redshirt senior Scott Levene split time in goal with transfer junior Austin Aviza, combining for four saves.
The Huskies fired eight shots – five on goal – throughout the contest, with redshirt junior Dylan Greenberg recording a pair of his own. UConn held a 6-3 shot advantage in the first 45 minutes, before being outshot 7-2 in the second half.
Blaise N’Gague, Dayonn Harris, Josh Burnett, Cole Venner, Austin DaSilva, Aaron Dang, David Abunaw, Jarod Riedl, Nick DeMaso and Aviza all made their UConn debuts on Sunday. The Huskies welcome 11 newcomers to the program in 2017.
For junior Abdou Mbacke Thiam (First Team All-Conference), as well as sophomores Niko Petridis and Munir Saleh (All-Rookie Team), it was their first action since earning American Athletic Conference awards at the conclusion of the 2016 campaign.
Head coach Ray Reid’s team has been practicing since Wednesday, making Sunday just the fifth day that the Huskies have played together. Ranked No. 24 in the United Soccer Coaches Preseason Poll, UConn has a good balance of youth and experience for a breakout season.
Another full week of practice is coming up for the Huskies, leading up to Saturday night’s exhibition against North Carolina State at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. (ET) and admission is free to the public.
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