Nov. 21, 2008

Courtesy UConn Athletics

STORRS, Conn. - The University of Connecticut men's soccer team picked up a 1-0 victory over Fairfield University on Friday night in the first round of the 2008 NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Championship at Morrone Stadium.

At the 14:43 mark in the first half, an own goal slipped past Fairfield goalkeeper, Justin Burse, to give the Huskies the 1-0 lead and eventual win. Junior Toni Stahl (Tuusula, Finland) broke away from the defense and played the ball into the box where a Stags' defender sent a leaping header into the wrong direction and into the back of the net to put the Huskies on the board.

Tonight's game marked the Huskies 29th overall and 11th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament. UConn improves to 10-4-6 on the year as Fairfield's season ends with an 11-8 overall record.

UConn used the one goal advantage and spread out their offense, controlling the ball for a majority of the game while limiting the Stags' offensive possessions. Fairfield, a team that averages 11.0 shots per game, was held to two shots the entire 90 minutes. UConn goalkeeper Josh Ford (Liverpool, N.Y.) recorded one save on the one shot on goal, improving his tally to 75 saves on the year, as his defense contained the Fairfield's offensive efforts throughout the game.

Midway through the first half, junior Mike Pezza (Jackson, N.J.) stole a pass from a Fairfield defender and drilled a shot 10 yards out of the 18-yard box but missed high. A few seconds later Kwame Watson-Siriboe (Chino Hills, Calif.) sent a header into the gloves of Burse keeping the score at 1-0.

The Huskies picked up the tempo of the game in the second half as Stahl, an unanimous BIG EAST Conference First Team selection, continued to lead the Huskies as he played a ball into the box but Burse was able to grab the ball before sophomore Shawn Nicklaw (San Diego, Calif.) was able to get a shot off. Another free kick by Pezza just missed the inside far post as Burse made the save in the 65th minute.

Defender Oscar Castillo (El Monte, Calif.) made a cross into the box to freshman Tony Cascio (Gilbert, Ariz.) in the 68th minute, who had a nice look at the net but missed just wide of the target.

The Huskies' almost took a two goal lead with under a minute to go in the game as senior Akeem Priestley (Kingston, Jamaica) had an open shot in the box which was saved just in front of the goal by a Stags' defender. Burse finished the game with four saves as the Stags' picked up a team save as well.

The Huskies will now travel to 10th seeded Virginia on Tuesday, Nov. 25 for a 7:00 p.m. match-up. Live statistics can be found at www.UConnHuskies.com.