The Washington Huskies decided that they would travel all over the world to make sure that they competed against some of the best teams and that brought them all the way to Connecticut before the travelled for two games in Birmingham, Alabama against Memphis and UAB. Washington and Connecticut are both low-scoring teams, and the Huskies of Washington had only scored from dead-balls situations this season and had a serious issue with fashioning opportunities from open play. Both teams would love to have a victory in order to continue on their path towards the College Cup, with Washington needing it in order to break into the top 20 in the nation.
The game opened with Washington making a few quick opportunities from their preferred dead ball situation, but Connecticut starting piling the pressure on and taking advantage of their home field atmosphere. UConn have a 27 game undefeated run at home, and they looked likely to extend that streak as they dominated the midfield and the possession stats. Senior Carlos Alvarez for UConn looked very likely to either score or provide the dead-lock breaking assist and you can be certain that he will be wearing an MLS jersey next season.
Although the skill level is impressively high in these college games, Washington seemed to have some serious issues with their first touch in the midfield. Several of the quick passes made to feet ricocheted off in awkward directions and some of the first touch passes went horribly awry. The only reason that Connecticut were not leading by several goals was the fact that Washington dominated aerially in their defensive third. In fact, there was not a true save that needed to be made until around the thirtieth minute when Washington’s Spencer Richey saved a tame shot from UConn’s Allando Matheson.
Washington were only able to come close on fast breaks spawned by UConn mistakes, and they never really built their own attack. The half ended with UConn almost scoring from a pair of corners, with the whistle blowing just as the second corner was cleared away. A great attacking half from UConn, but no end product; while Washington will hope that they perform better offensively in the second half.
The second half started and continued in the same vein of the first, with UConn looking like the far superior team, but with no end product. In fact, Washington would only end up managing two shots on target for the entirety of the game. UConn were passing beautifully from the back all the way into the attacking third, but they still could not unlock the Washington defense. Washington was the first team to put the ball in the back of the net, but the goal was disallowed in the 63-rd minute for obstruction of the keeper. It certainly would have been against the run of play, but the foul ensured that UConn remained the team in the ascendency.
Then, moments later, UConn got away with a blatant handball in the box after a long throw from Washington, but it only resulted in a corner kick. The following corner kick would just get sent behind for another, and the resulting kick saw a save off the line as Washington started to show some serious signs of life. Then, just as quickly as the tides had turned, they switched back and UConn started dominating the proceedings again. Then, for the entirety of the last ten minutes, it became an end-to-end fervor with chances aplenty and set-pieces all around. Somehow, the end of normal time saw the score-line still 0-0.
Both teams had already experienced overtime decisions in this young season, and they both looked to snag a win during the Golden Goal time. Then, after only one minute, Carlos Alvarez took on three players and forced Washington’s Michael Gallagher to draw the foul and earn a red card. Then on the ensuing free kick, Max Wasserman curled the ball around the wall and ended the game with a fantastic goal.
Washington will feel hard done considering how long they kept UConn at bay, but the quality of the game winning goal shows that Connecticut deserved the victory. This result will put Connecticut firmly in the top 5 in the nation and they will certainly be considered one of the favorites to still be playing in December, while Washington will now be on the edge of the top 25 and they will need to fight hard to make it into the season ending tournament. Go Huskies!
Written by: Andrew McCole, soccerprose.com
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