The UConn men’s soccer team opens conference play against South Florida this Saturday at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium. The match, set for 7 p.m., marks the 11th all-time meeting between the two schools and features a rematch of last year’s inaugural American Athletic Conference Championship, which the Bulls captured after advancing in PKs. The Huskies are 8-0-2 against South Florida in a series that dates back to 1988.
Last Time Out
Connecticut (2-4-1) fell to former conference rival St. John’s, 3-1, on the road Tuesday night. Senior midfielder Adria Beso Marco’s (Lleida, Spain) second goal of the season in the 6th minute evened the game, but the Red Storm notched two more scores in the first period to grab a 3-1 lead.
Beso Marco now has two goals in his last three matches after not scoring in 35 straight games entering UConn’s match against Seattle on Sept. 14. The three first-half goals by St. John’s were a season-high for an opponent of the Huskies, who didn’t allow a shot in the second half and finished the match with a 15-7 shot advantage.
Scouting The Bulls
USF enters Saturday’s match with wins over two teams (Akron, Portland) that have received votes in the NSCAA/Continental Tire Rankings this season. The Bulls are 0-2 on the road in 2014, and they dropped their third game of the year last Sunday, falling to No. 8 Washington, 2-1. Connecticut lost to the Dawgs, 3-1, on the road earlier this month.
Five players have notched goals for USF this season, including midfielder Lucas Baldin, who leads the team with eight points. Defender Wesley Charpie’s 0.5 assists per game ranks 33rd among Division I players, while South Florida goalkeeper Spasoj Stefanovic’s 1.13 goals against average is the second-best mark in the conference.
Conference Clean Sheet… UConn was the only school to finish last season without a loss in American Athletic Conference play (4-0-4). The Huskies, who finished second behind former conference member Louisville in 2013, were tabbed as the favorites to win the league this season in a preseason poll released in August.
Hancock’s Return… On Saturday, South Florida assistant coach Bryheem Hancock returns to Morrone Stadium, where he played for the Huskies from 1998-2001. The former keeper and member of the 2000 Connecticut National Championship team ranks fourth all-time in wins (44) and fifth in shutouts (29).
400 Wins Watch… With UConn’s win over Seattle on Sept. 14, head coach Ray Reid (396-101-62) is now just four wins away from 400. Reid, who coached eight years at Southern Connecticut before coming to UConn in 1997, is second in winning percentage (.764) among active Division I coaches.