Sept. 30, 2011
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Soccer Features - NBC Connecticut | The Men In The Middle | Alvarez on Topdrawersoccer.com
STORRS, Conn. - The No. 1 UConn men’s soccer squad will travel to Louisville, Ky. for a crucial BIG EAST Conference clash on Saturday night at No. 8/9 Louisville. UConn, 9-0-0 (1-0-0 BIG EAST) is one of two remaining teams with a perfect record at the midway point of the season. Louisville was the preseason No. 1 team in the nation and stands at 6-2 (0-1-0 BIG EAST). The Cardinals lost in the 2010 NCAA Championship.
Saturday’s contest begins at 7 p.m. and can be heard live at WHUS.org/91.7 fm. Fans can also follow the action through GameTracker at uconnhuskies.com.
The Huskies have advanced from preseason No. 8/5 to No. 1 in both the NSCAA poll and the latest Soccer America national poll. UConn has already defeated five teams that competed in the 2010 NCAA Tournament. Three victories this season have come over ranked teams. Connecticut trounced No. 7 California, 4-1, before displacing No. 10 Boston College, 2-0, and No. 12 St. John’s in the BIG EAST opener, 2-0.
UConn most recently defeated in-state rival Yale in dramatic fashion, 1-0. Connecticut needed 108 minutes to dispatch the Bulldogs as senior back Nickardo Blake buried a rebound from in front with just 1:01 remaining in double overtime. It was UConn’s first overtime game of the season. Last season, the Huskies failed to win a one-goal game and ended the season with six ties. UConn has already recorded five victories by just one goal in 2011.
Sophomore Mamadou Doudou Diouf
has led the way offensively for the Huskies. After nine games, Diouf has matched his scoring total from a season ago with six goals. That total ranks second in the BIG EAST. Diouf had the top offensive performance of the season with a hat trick in UConn’s 4-1 victory over then No. 7 Cal.
The UConn defense has been the story of 2011. The Huskies have allowed just two goals and haven’t conceded since September 4. Connecticut has blanked six-straight opponents and has not allowed a goal in 588:48. Freshman goalkeeper Andre Blake, the reigning BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Week, has been sensational in his first nine games as a Husky. Blake leads the BIG EAST and ranks third in the NCAA with a 0.22 goals against average and a .939 save percentage.
Blake has made 31 saves in nine contests as opponents have been stifled by UConn’s impressive backline. Sophomore preseason All-BIG EAST selection Andrew Jean-Baptsite has anchored the UConn defense that has allowed opponents just 7.6 shot attempts per game. Baptiste was previous named BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Week on September 12 after leading UConn to back-to-back 1-0 shutouts at the Tulsa Hurricane Classic or SMU and Tulsa. Baptiste was named to the All-Tournament Team that weekend as well. He’s been joined on defense by Nickardo Blake, junior Max Wasserman and sophomore Michael Mercado. Junior Sean Weir has also seen action on defense for the Huskies.
UConn will return home to face Manhattan on Tuesday, October 4 at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday’s game is fan appreciate night at Morrone Stadium. The first 200 fans in attendance will receive free pizza.
The Huskies have been generating some national and local media coverage as of late as well. To listen to an interview with junior captain Carlos Alvarez on Topdrawersoccer.com, CLICK HERE.
Fans can also watch a feature on the men’s soccer team featured on NBC Connecticut by CLICKING HERE.
Be sure to read a great feature article on UConn’s unsung heroes in junior midfielder Jossimar Sanchez and sophomore midfielder Colin Bradley by CLICKING HERE.