Connecticut drives past UMBC to third round on penalty kicks
BALTIMORE, Md. -- No. 10 Connecticut received second half goals from senior Mamadou Diouf and freshman Cyle Larin to force a 2-2 draw, before defeating UMBC, 4-2, in penalty kicks to advance to the third round of the NCAA tournament on Sunday evening in Baltimore. The Huskies move to 12-2-7 in 2013.
The Huskies found themselves down 2-1 early in the shootout before American Athletic Conference Goalkeeper of the Year Andre Blake came up with two consecutive saves to help give the Huskies a 3-2 advantage. Junior Adria Beso buried UConn’s final penalty attempt to advance the Huskies to their third consecutive third round appearance.
The Huskies extend their unbeaten streak to 16 consecutive matches and have scored four goals in the opening two matches of the tournament. In their past eight matches, UConn has out-scored its opponents by a 14-3 margin.
Larin’s goal in the 46th minute was set up by two beautiful passes by junior defender Sergio Campbell and Diouf. Near midfield, Campbell sent a booming pass in the air to Diouf, who was charging into Connecticut’s attacking third. After he gathered the ball, Diouf dribbled towards the endline in the right side of the box and chipped up a great ball to Larin, who fired a shot that went right through UMBC keeper Phil Saunders’ legs and into the back of the net. It was Larin’s team-leading 12th score of the season.
The Retrievers evened the score in the 61st minute after UMBC received a free kick from the top of the box when Blake was issued a yellow card. Retriever midfielder Geaton Caltabiano buried the shot into the left side of the net past a diving Blake.
Diouf put UConn back in front in the 73rd minute off of a Connecticut corner kick when Beso sent the ball into the box right in front of the goal. The Dakar, Senegal native jumped and got a piece of the ball with his head, pushing it past the keeper to give the Huskies a 2-1 edge.
In the 76th minute, the Retrievers answered back scoring off a corner kick when UMBC forward Pete Caringi headed the ball into the net from five yards away.
Both teams had few quality scoring opportunities in the first 45 minutes of play with the Huskies putting up four shots, while UMBC recorded just three shots in the period.
Connecticut had an excellent chance in 25th minute when freshman defender Kwame Awuah dribbled by a defender and sent a ball towards Larin near the front of the goal. Larin received the pass in a great position, though the ball deflected off his foot and connected with Diouf’s hand, and UConn was called for the penalty.
In the 31st minute, freshman defender Jakab Nerwinski made a great move to get by a UMBC defender and sent a dangerous ball into the box. His pass was unable to reach a UConn forward, and the Retrievers’ defense cleared the ball away.
UMBC’s best scoring opportunity in the first half came early in the match on a breakaway in the ninth minute. UMBC’s Caltabiano found himself all alone with UConn junior keeper Andre Blake and fired a shot that missed wide left of the net. Several minutes later, Caltabiano had another quality look at goal when he had the ball near the top of the box. Blake was off his line after breaking up a scoring threat seconds earlier and Caltabiano had a look at an open net, but his shot sailed wide right.
Neither team saw a quality scoring chance in either overtime period before the teams headed to the shootout.
Blake finished three saves in 110 minutes, including a stop in the first overtime period. His counterpart, Saunders made seven saves inside the posts for the Retrievers.