It’s a pretty safe bet that a scoreless double overtime tie to a team UConn had not lost to in the prior six meetings was not the way Huskies coach Ray Reid was hoping to start the 2015 season. But, when the final horn sounded at Joseph J Morrone stadium Friday evening in Storrs that’s exactly what the scoreboard showed. UConn- 0, St. Francis (Brooklyn) -0.
UConn (0-0-1), coming off a disappointing 2014 season, was hoping to start the 2015 campaign off on the right foot. St. Francis seemed to be just what the doctor ordered. Prior to last evening, the Huskies were 6-0-0, versus the visiting Terriers, dating back to the 1990 season. But a lack luster first half, coupled with an offensive squad still finding its footing, kept the Huskies out of the net for the 110 minute affair in the season opener for both squads.
Playing in the low RPI, low respect America Athletic Conference, UConn needs every out of conference win it can muster to makes its case for NCAA Tournament bidding and seeding later this fall. That made the matchup with St. Francis (0-0-1) a must win.
The Huskies managed only nine shots for the game with only two of those on goal. The upside was red-shirt sophomore goalie Scott Levene and a solid defense limiting the Terriers to just five shots, forcing Levene to make just three saves for the night.
The offensive woes, in Reids eyes, weren’t what the Terriers were doing defensively, but were more attributable to the growing pains of a young squad.
Said Reid, “Our (midfielfers) were not too good tonight. Our outside backs were not too good tonight. Add it all up, if you don’t play with good strikers and you don’t play with good midfielders and your backs don’t show up you’re not going to score goals… Its gonna take some time. (UConn’s) got eight starters who are freshmen and sophomores. It’s not an excuse just a matter of fact.”
All of UConn’s eleven starters were underclassmen.
Junior captain Jakob Nerwinski was asked to evaluate the season opener and said, “We’re all disappointed not playing the way we wanted to play. We wanted to come out with a win. I feel that this is a learning experience for everyone and that we just have to play better.”
UConn’s best scoring opportunity came in the 75th minute, when senior reserve Nick Zuniga drilled a ball from left of the box, 25 yards out that was ticketed for the upper right corner of the net, before Terrier goalie Jack Binks was able to make a great goal saving deflection.
As one of only four seniors on the roster, Zuniga was asked what advice he would give to the younger players going forward and answered, “Look toward the next game. Our approach is the next practice and to put this game behind us. Work hard and see what we have to improve on and stay together as a team.”
The Huskies look to regroup as they host in state rival Quinnipiac Monday at 7 p.m. at Morrone Stadium.