In a battle for Husky supremacy, the tenth-ranked University of Washington was able to push No. 3 UConn into sudden death overtime.
However, both teams failed to separate themselves, as the two powerhouses were forced to settle for a scoreless draw.
The game started off slowly, as both teams struggled to find rhythm early. The two top-ranked sides managed zero shots on goal in the first half, as both teams mustered little on the ball.
The second half featured more offensive flow, but neither side was able to find the elusive score.
However, the second half was far from uneventful, as Spencer Richey, Washington’s star keeper, had to be taken off due to injury.
Richey, who is on the Hermann Trophy watch list, charged at an oncoming Cyle Larin, and a collision ensued between himself and the freshman forward. Richey suffered an apparent leg injury, which resulted in him being taken off the field on a stretcher in the 85th minute.
The overtime periods slanted towards UConn’s end of the field, as multiple corners and a free kick gave UConn their fair share of scoring contributions. However, it was not to be as Washington’s defense stood firm in the waning moments.
UConn benefited greatly from contributions from star goalkeeper Andre Blake, who made numerous plays on dangerous Washington crosses.
“At the beginning of the season, we came together and set a couple of goals,” discussed the Jamaican international goalkeeper. “One of the main goals was to have a good defensive reputation. Every time we go out there, we tell ourselves that defense wins championships. If we stop them from scoring, we’re that much closer to winning.”
The UConn defense was lead by Junior Sergio Campbell, who exemplifies exactly what UConn’s “defense first” mentality really means.
“We didn’t give up anything, so obviously we couldn’t lose the game. We stayed focused and locked in,” said the Jamaican defender, who has become a vocal leader for the Huskies. “Washington is a very tough team to play against. They’re very physical. We went out there to be physical with them. We didn’t plan to give up anything. If they come out there physical, we’re going to be physical.”
The Washington defense worked hard to limit the touches of superstar forward Mamadou Diouf, who worked hard to make the most of what little he saw of the ball.
Diouf saw his best chance of the day come early in the second half, as his shot from the left side of the Washington box went just wide of the visitor’s keeper.
After the game, Head Coach Ray Reid was quick to praise his star goalkeeper -- UConn’s longtime leader believes that Blake is truly special.
“This guy is the best goalkeeper, and we’ve had very good goalkeepers,” said Reid, who has coached professional keepers including Seattle’s Josh Ford. “This guy is the best goalkeeper that not only that we have had in 25 years, but that we’ve played against in college soccer. Enjoy what you’re watching.”
“This is a not a joke, and I won’t say this lightly, so it should resonate with you. This is the LeBron James of goalkeepers. This is not a joke.”
Blake will lead the Huskies this Friday as they take on the Bradley Braves in Storrs.