With a 290-minute shutout streak to their name, the third-ranked UConn Huskies were being discussed as one of the best defenses in the country.
With star goalkeeper Andre Blake between the pipes, as well as an experienced back line, UConn has been able to dominate games through strong defense and timely scoring.
However, all good things must come to an end, as UConn conceded an early penalty to the Bradley Braves in what would turn out to be a 1-0 loss, the first on UConn’s young season.
Despite dominating a majority of the game, the Huskies finishing was always an issue, as the home team were unable to put shots on net all night.
UConn got off to the worst possible start, as a third minute goal from Bradley’s Zach Kovacevic put the hosts in the hole early.
Bradley came out attacking from the opening whistle, as the underdogs took the fight to the mighty UConn defense from the get-go.
After a scramble in the box, Blake, a pre-season All American, committed a foul while charging out to make a play on the ball. The keeper got his fingertips to the ensuing penalty, but Kovacevic put just enough on the shot to power it past the Jamaican international.
From there, the field tilted heavily in UConn’s favor, as the Huskies were able to outshoot the visitors 20 to 6. However, UConn struggled to find the target as Bradley keeper Brian Billings was forced into only 5 saves.
“We’ve got good players. It’s just working the kinks out,” said Coach Ray Reid, whose team has failed to score the past two games. “I’m sure there’s some frustration, but it’s early season working it out, that’s all.”
However, the hosts were fortunate to not find themselves down more to the scrappy Braves, as Bradley had a pair of goals disallowed by the referee.
One of UConn’s better chances came in the 55th minute, as freshman Ethan Decker made an impressive run into the Bradley box. Decker, a product of the Red Bull academy, was brought down, but the referee interpreted the play as a dive, resulting in a yellow for the young forward.
A 63rd minute shot from freshman Cyle Larin struck the left post and bounced right back out to the keeper Billings, in what proved to be UConn’s best efforts on the day.
The last ten minutes proved nervy for the visiting Braves, as UConn created numerous chances to equalize. An Edir DaGraca shot was saved comfortably by Billings, while the senior keeper also was forced into another spectacular save with five minutes remaining.
From there, the Bradley bench counted down the seconds before finally storming the Morrone field in celebration.
“We’ll be ready to play Tuesday night,” said Reid after the game, as UConn will look to rebound in their first away game of the young season as they take on Syracuse.