Alvarez, Liu help No. 2 UConn hold on to defeat eighth-ranked Notre Dame
STORRS, Conn. -- No. 2 Connecticut tallied two first-half goals and held on for a 2-1 victory at home against No. 8 Notre Dame in front of a sell-out crowd of 5,100 fans on Saturday to improve to 9-0-1. Notre Dame dropped to 8-2-0. Senior defender Flo Liu and senior midfielder Carlos Alvarez scored for the Huskies.
With the victory, Connecticut extended its home unbeaten streak to 32 games, the seventh longest streak in NCAA history. UConn has opened the season undefeated in 10 consecutive games for the third time under Ray Reid (1998, 2011).
Notre Dame's second-half goal was the first blemish against Andre Blake and the UConn defense in five games spanning 438 minutes.
Alvarez scored the game's opening goal at 28:23 and assisted on the second. UConn's senior captain extended his point streak to six games with five goals and six assists for 16 points.
Flo Liu made it 2-0 with a shot from the top of the box at 35:25 that gave the Huskies the much-needed insurance tally. It was his first career goal.
"I honestly don't even remember jogging back to our side of the field, it was the best feeling in the world," Liu said. "It's such a great feeling and an honor to score a goal in such a huge game for us."
UConn's first chance of the night came off the head of Mamadou Doudou Diouf at 14:30, forcing a save from Notre Dame keeper Will Walsh. Jossimar Sanchez followed at 15:05 with a hard shot from 35 yards out that was saved by Walsh.
The Huskies opened the scoring with a penalty kick from Carlos Alvarez at 28:23 to go ahead 1-0. The goal was his fifth of the season.
Alvarez played sophomore Allando Matheson in with a through ball splitting the two center backs. Matheson took a touch to his left and was taken down by Walsh. Alvarez stepped up and buried his second penalty kick of the season.
Liu made it 2-0 with his first-career goal at 35:25. Alvarez took a shot from the top of the box that was blocked by a sliding ND defender. The ball bounced to the left where Liu one-timed home a shot off the cross bar and in. Alvarez tallied his sixth assist of the season on the play.
"The ball came to me and I just had to bury it. It took me two seconds to realize I scored actually," Liu said. "Carlos and Allando did a great job setting that up and the ball rolled right to me off Carlos' shot."
UConn ended the half with a 2-0 lead. The Irish held the edge in shots 7-6 with both teams tallying one corner.
The Irish came out of intermission and forced several UConn turnovers, gaining the edge in the possession battle. ND capitalized just 3:26 into the half.
Notre Dame midfielder Dillon Powers made it 2-1 at 48:26 with a right-footed shot from the top-right corner of the box that curled past Blake and just inside the left post.
Blake kept it at 2-1 with an excellent save in the 66th minute off the foot of Harrison Shipp from 25 yards out.
Notre Dame, the highest ranked team UConn has played this season, pressured the Huskies throughout the remaining 24 minutes. The Irish finished with six corners and five in the second half but failed to beat the Connecticut defense for the equalizer.