Huskymania

By Ken Best

Tracking Huskymania on and off the field.

Men’s Soccer Advances in NCAA Tournament Football Upsets No. 19 Louisville

Having the home field advantage is something every team prefers. In addition to the tangible benefits of fan support and knowing every blade of grass on the turf, there is the mentality of having to literally defend your home field against the opposition. In the postseason, when a loss ends the season it can be a powerful advantage.

Over the past three years, the men’s soccer team has used the friendly confines of Morrone Stadium to its advantage in the postseason. On Sunday, the No. 7 Huskies found comfort again at home in winning their 38th consecutive home game in emphatic fashion, rallying from a 1-0 first half deficit by tying the game in the second half and then scoring in the second overtime period for a 2-1 victory over No. 9 New Mexico to advance to the quarterfinals of the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

The Huskies (17-3-1) again will defend their home turf in the quarterfinals next Sunday, Dec. 2, at 1 p.m. against Creighton (16-3-3).

“They got an early goal. At times we were sloppy. At times we were effective. I thought we were very resilient; just real warriors today,” said head coach Ray Reid. “There are years where we’ve played teams off the field and we went home. I’m tired of reading on Monday morning that it’s a strange game and that it’s not a fair game and us being on the wrong end of it. This is what it’s about right now.”

After regulation and the first overtime ended with the score 1-1, freshman forward Nick Zuniga ’16 (CLAS) took a pass from senior Carlos Alvarez ’13 (CLAS) in the box just over four minutes into the second overtime period and put it past New Mexico’s goalkeeper, Victor Rodriguez, that set off a celebration on the field and in the stands, where 4,315 cheered the result.

“It was an unfortunate way to lose the game. It was a fairly routine giveaway in the back,” said New Mexico head coach Jeremy Fishbein. “We had a lot of chances to win the game; tough way to end the season. We lost to a good team, a proud team that was committed to playing soccer.”

New Mexico’s leading scorer, senior forward Devon Sandoval, scored at 31:48 in the first half after Huskies goalkeeper Andre Blake ’15 (CLAS) blocked his first shot, which was kicked over to midfielder Michael Calderone, who returned the ball while Blake was still on the ground. Sandoval found the right corner of the net.

UConn tied the game with just over 14 minutes left in regulation after senior defender Max Wasserman ’13 (CLAS)Wasserman sent a cross into the box and senior defender Sean Weir ’13 (CLAS) tipped the ball to the Huskies leading scorer, junior Mamdou Doudou Diouf ’14 (CLAS), who headed the ball into the left side of the net.

“Coach was saying ‘you are going to have rebounds today. You are gonna get a rebound’ “ Doiuf said. “I got in the box, saw the cross, the defender jumped, I just got it done. That’s what I usually do in that situation.”

Zuniga had two early chances to score, one high shot and another that Rodriguez stopped cold.

“What was going through my mind was to just put it in the goal because I had enough opportunities in the game,” he said. “I’m just glad I got that one. My heart is still pounding right now.”

There were 27 shots on goal, 13 for the Huskies and 14 for New Mexico, with each team earning three corner kicks. Rodriguez made three saves and Blake made four saves.

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The football team’s 23-20 triple overtime upset of No. 19 Louisville on Saturday has shaken up the Big East standings, the national rankings and resurrected the possibility of eligibility for a postseason bowl invitation.

The win was only the second time the Huskies have defeated a ranked team, the first since beating South Florida in 2007.

Chad Christien’s  ’14 (CLAS) third field goal of the day, from 30-yards, provided the Huskies with their second-straight win of the season, improving UConn to 5-6 overall and 2-4 in the Big East. Louisville dropped to 4-2 in the conference and 9-2 overall.

The UConn defense held Louisville to 27 yards rushing, disrupting the Cardinals play-action sequences and  forcing them to pass.  While Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw for 331 yards, he was sacked four times and was forced into to quick throws, including one that resulted in an end-zone interception by Blidi Wreh-Wilson in the third overtime to help seal the upset. The Huskies scored 10 points in the first half, did not score in the second half, but put up 13 points in the overtimes.

“We were just looking for a few points in the second half and weren’t able to come up with points in the third and fourth quarters,” said Huskies head coach Paul Pasqualoni. “I thought our guys hung in there on pride and with character and how hard they fought in this game.  As a coach you just figure out how you can get in position to try and win the game and give the kids a chance to score some points and stop them on defense. We were fortunate here today and we came out ahead in a tough game.”

UConn  ends the regular season on Saturday against Cincinnati at 3:30 p.m. at Renstchler Field. A win would make the Huskies bowl eligible. The game will be televised regionally by ABC and heard on the UConn IMG Sports Network.

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The men’s hockey team swept Air Force for the first time over the weekend, earning a 2-1 win on Friday at Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum on Friday and then taking a dramatic 3-2 win in overtime Saturday at the XL Center in Hartford.

In Friday’s game, Alex Gerke’13 (CLAS) and Jordan Sims ’14 (BUS) scored goals for UConn to earn the win. On Sunday, senior captain Sean Ambrosie ’13 (BUS) scored the winning goal in overtime after Trever Gerling ’15 (ED) and Cody Sharib ’15 (CLAS) had goals to knot the score at 2-2.

Connecticut improved to 4-5-1 (3-4-0 AHA) while Air Force dropped to 3-6-3 (2-3-1 AHA).