Nov. 4, 2012
STORRS, Conn. - The No. 6 ranked Connecticut Huskies got a goal late in the first half from Mamadou Diouf and held off the Villanova Wildcats the rest of the way to post a 1-0 win here today in a BIG EAST quarterfinal. Connecticut (15-2-1 overall) advance to meet Notre Dame in a BIG EAST semifinal on Friday evening while VU (12-6-2 overall) hopes to continue its season when the NCAA College Cup field is announced on Nov. 12.
"I thought we carried out the game plan and were right there," stated Villanova head coach Tom Carlin. "I didn't think we were maybe as sharp as we would have like to have been. We were a half-step away a few times. Give credit to UConn, though, they are an outstanding team and have been the class of this league for a long time."
"I am proud of our guys. We came in here and gave a great effort. I just thought we were a half-inch away from winning this game."
Villanova pressed the Huskies from the opening kickoff, creating the game's first two corner kicks and some pressure on Connecticut. However, the contest remained scoreless through the first 20 minutes.
The Wildcats defense had its moments in the first half too. Senior Kyle McCarthy cut off two dangerous feeds into the box and senior goalkeeper John Fogarty came up with the contest's first big save when he stopped a bid by Carlos Alvarez in the 22nd minute.
"Fogarty has been doing that for us all year," stated Carlin. "We are really going to miss him next year."
A short while later Fogarty made another huge save for the Wildcats. This one came at the end of a nifty dribbling run by Connecticut's Mamadou Diouf. Diouf's low shot was gobbled up by the Marmora, N.J. native to keep matters knotted at zero.
The game tempo picked up in the final 10 minutes of the first half. Andre Blake was forced to come off his line to scoop up a feed from junior Dylan Renna that was just a step away from reaching senior Kyle Soroka.
Connecticut was able to break through in the 40th minute when Carlos Alvarez and Mamadou Diouf executed a crisply efficient give and go. Diouf timed his run and was there to deposit Alvarez' pass into the Wildcat goal at 39:26.
"They have some very skilled players and they made a big play there," Carlin noted.
Connecticut held a 1-0 lead after the first 45 minutes. Shots were 6-4 in favor of the Huskies and Fogarty had the only two saves of the period.
Trailing by one Villanova pressed ahead even more urgently than they had in the first half. In the 48th minute Soroka seemed headed in for a scoring chance inside the box when he collided with a Husky defender. The whistle did not come, however, and the ball rolled harmlessly over the touch line.
In the 66th minute a neat pass found Renna onside with a clear path to the goal. But a combination of some jostling from UConn's Max Wasserman and an aggressive charge by Blake allowed the Husky goalkeeper to collect the loose ball before it went over the line.
With Villanova moving forward it opened up counter attack options for Connecticut. The Huskies best one of the second half saw Diouf move in on the left side as the `Cats scrambled back to defend. Diouf sent a low shot that Fogarty stopped.
The Huskies momentarily appeared to extend the lead to 2-0 in the 80th minute when Diouf sent one into the net. However, the linesman had his flag raised to signal offside, negating the score.
VU kept pushing bodies forward and had the ball in the box several times but never managed to get the high-end chance it needed to knot the contest. The horn sounded and the Huskies had advanced.
Villanova now will watch intently next week when the field for the 2012 NCAA College Cup is announced.
"We feel our body of work is worthy of us being an NCAA team," stated Carlin. "We hope the (NCAA) Selection Committee agrees with us."