It may as well have been Canadian Appreciation Night at Joseph J Morrone Stadium in Storrs Friday evening as a pair of UConn freshmen from north of the border combined to lift UConn to a season opening 1-0 win over St. Francis Brooklyn.
The lone goal of the game came midway through the first half as defender Kwame Awuah sent a bullet crossing lead pass from the left side 30 yards out as Cyle Larin came streaking in from the right wing connecting on a beautiful header that rocketed past Terrier goalie Jack Binks into the upper left corner of the goal, lifting UConn to the win.
“The ball came back out from a corner kick”, said Awuah, “And I saw Cyle (Larin) opening up, calling for it and I tried my best to hit it down the middle over the defenders head and it got to him and he scored the goal.”
Awuah of Toronto and Larin from Brampton, Ontario are two of the eleven freshmen on the 2013 squad.
The opener against St. Francis Brooklyn (0-1), formerly St. Francis (NY), played like a season opener. The game was ragged early, followed by a dominant Husky effort for the final 35 minutes of the first half, with St. Francis gaining the upper hand in momentum and tempo for most of the second. But, when time expired it was the Huskies who had emerged with the win. It was the second straight season UConn edged St. Francis by that very same 1-0 score to start the season.
“First game of the year, things get a little sloppy”, said UConn coach Ray Reid.
The win marks the fourth straight opening day win over St. Francis Brooklyn. All four wins have been shutouts. UConn (1-0) has not dropped an opener since 2006 when Loyola Marymount shutout Reid’s Huskies.
Once UConn founds its footing after the opening moments, the Huskies defense rarely had to do more than support the offensive attack while goalie Andre Blake could have embarked on an autograph tour. UConn’s first half attack was relentless despite a very physical effort on the part of the Terriers.
“Every time I turned”, said Larin, “Someone was there. Even when I didn’t have the ball someone was knocking me.”
Reid’s Huskies should have should have taken at least a two goal lead into the half, but the offense just couldn’t capitalize on opportunity. The Huskies had to settle for the single goal despite out-shooting St. Francis 9-0 by the half.
The physical play began to take its toll on the Huskies in the second as the Terriers were able to mount a more sustained attack, controlling tempo for much of the half. But, sensational play by Blake and a stubborn Huskies defense kept the ball from finding the net.
Said Reid, “I thought the first half was really good. (Second half) We got a little fatigued and the game opened up. We've got young guys and we’re not fully fit. We’ve been in camp sixteen days and haven’t played a game since last spring.”
The Huskies next game is Monday as William & Mary travels to the Joseph J Morrone Stadium in Storrs. Game time is at 7:00 p.m. The Tribe come in 0-1 after dropping their opener to St. Francis (PA).
Reid critiqued the Monday match-up, “They’ll be tough. (Coach) Chris Norris does a really good job. They’ll be organized and difficult to break down. Very highly motivated guys. Very good academic school."