Sometimes all it takes is just a little more time. For the second consecutive home game UConn (4-0-0) needed overtime to notch a win and deny another upset minded opponent. The #21 (NSCAA) ranked Huskies of Washington (3-1-1) looked to knock off #4 ranked UConn before Max Wasserman drilled a free kick from 20 yards out 1:17 into overtime propelling UConn to a thrilling 1-0 win in a nationally televised matchup in Storrs Friday evening.
Wasserman recapped the game winner, “I told Carlos (Alvarez) I wanted (the shot) and I felt confident on the kick and went for it and it came together.”
The game had the feel of a big time matchup as both teams struggled to find any offensive flow early in what was increasingly a physical affair.
“We knew what was coming,” said Alvarez on the physicality, “The team was ready. We created but we missed our chances, but we’re happy with victory.”
Almost twenty minutes expired before UConn recorded the first shot on goal for either team. UConn turned up the attack in the final twenty-five of the first outshooting Washington 9-1 but the host Huskies were unable to find the back of the net sending the teams to the locker rooms in a scoreless tie.
In the second half it was Washington’s Huskies who turned up the energy level a tick pressuring UConn for much of the half and giving the feel an upset was in the making. Washington briefly took the lead in the 63rd minute but the apparent go ahead goal was waved off after the referee determined UConn keeper Andre Blake had been pushed on the play.
The ebb and flow
UConn coach Ray Reid talked about the momentum shift from UConn in the first half to Washington in the second, “Soccer’s a strange game. At the half time break we were kind of all over (the team) to try to get the game back. (Washington) plays a difficult style. Its rock’em, sock’em with long throw ins and its disruptive. This is the style we have had problems with in the past and we purposely scheduled them.”
It was the only real scoring opportunity either team could muster in regulation keeping the crowd of over 4900 on the edge of its’ seats.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do”, said Reid, “The Michigan State win (Monday) was a huge win at their place. (Friday) We played well in the first half. Second (half) got sloppy, but Carlos made a great run. Carlos is just starting to find his form.”
Much like the overtime win over Dartmouth last Friday in Storrs UConn seemed to come out on fire to open the extra frame. George Fochive found Alvarez sneaking past the Washington defense at midfield. Alvarez dribbled the ball past the back pedaling Washington defenders getting ready to line up a potential game winner before Washington defenseman Michael Gallagher took down Alvarez drawing a red card and setting up the Wasserman game winner.
“I saw three players,” said Alvarez, “And I said I can go at these three players. We sometimes work in practice three versus one, two versus one with coach. Our practice gets us better each day to be prepared. I just had that feeling I could create and I ran at those players”
UConn looks to remain unbeaten as the Huskies host the Terriers of Boston University (1-3-1) Sunday evening at 7 p.m. at Joseph J Morrone Stadium in Storrs.