UConn took a big step toward securing a first round bye and hosting the semi-final round of the Big East tournament starting next week with a convincing 3-0 win over the visiting Marquette Golden Eagles Wednesday night in Storrs. UConn (14-1-2, 5-1-2) came in trailing Marquette (8-7-2, 6-2-0) in the Big East Blue Division and can win the division outright with a win at Seton Hall Saturday coupled with a loss or tie by Marquette at home against Pitt. Pitt, despite being 4-12-1 overall, played UConn tough in Storrs two weeks ago before losing to the Huskies 1-0.
The UConn Huskies controlled tempo, led on shots and took a rare lead into the half. Overcoming a first half scoring drought that has plagued them for most of the season, Allando Matheson scored on a pass from Mamadou Doudou Diouf nine minutes in giving the Huskies the 1-0 lead. Nickardo Blake was also credited with an assist on the play. Fourteen minutes another combination assist, this time from Matheson and Stephane Diop to Diouf gave the Huskies a 2-0 cushion and some rare first half breathing room. UConn was on their game early taking four shots on goal for the half converting twice and outshooting the Golden Eagles 10-5 for the first 45. “Once we got the first goal everyone got more relaxed, waiting for the next one” said Matheson, ”And then things just started opening up for us.”
The Huskies dropped from #1 to #5 nationally (NSCAA) after losing to West Virginia a week ago and playing Georgetown to a scoreless double overtime tie over the weekend. “We scored three goals which is the most we’ve had in five games”, said Matheson, “Last game (Georgetown) we played great, we just couldn’t score. Today (Wednesday) we scored three goals and that felt really good.”
Marquette narrowed the shots advantage in the second half but could not find the net as Andre Blake recorded five saves in the final 45 giving UConn their 13th shutout of the season. The Huskies netted their third goal in the 55th minute when Mamadou Diouf took a long pass from New Milford, Connecticut’s Sean Weir and split the defense and before drilling a shot between the legs of Golden Eagle goalie David Check (3 goals against, 5 saves). Said Diouf, “We had to get this win for us and for coach (Ray Reid). We worked really hard in practice. (Wednesday) we worked really hard as a team.” Added Reid, “The guys did a really good job (Wednesday). (UConn) came out very focused and had really good rhythm. They did just what we asked them to do and they were very sharp.”