Iona Wins Season-Opener Against No. 24 UConn
STORRS, CT – The Iona College men's soccer program kicked off its 2017 season with a dramatic 1-0 overtime win against No. 24 UConn. It's the first win against the Huskies in program history, and the program's first win over a NCAA ranked team since 2012.
Freshman Josh Plimpton entered the game at 72:29 of the second half. In his first collegiate game, the South Glastonbury, CT native left his mark by scoring the game-winner in the second period of overtime. Fellow freshman Lenworth Lopez drew a foul in the offensive zone, earning a dangerous free kick position. Senior captain Luis Mendoza stepped up and delivered it into the box and fellow veteran Joshua Calderon got a head on it. After a brief scrum, the ball fell to Plimpton who buried it past the UConn defense.
The Huskies entered the contest ranked No. 24 in the nation, making this the first time the Maroon & Gold have upset a ranked team since Saturday, Sept. 22 when they toppled No. 25 Monmouth at Mazzella Field.
UConn had the first scoring attempt in the sixth minute punched away by junior Kellar Sirstins in net. Soon after the Gaels pushed forward and drew a dangerous free kick chance from 20 yards out. It was garnered by Lopez charging toward a long through ball where he was collided with Husky goaltender Scott Levene just outside of the 16-yard box.
Over the course of the last fifteen minutes of the first half, the Huskies had off target chances from Abdou Mbacke Thiam and Nkosi Burgess.
The Maroon & Gold were denied at the doorstop in the 41 minute. Lopez powered through a cluster and box and put a grounded shot on net, only to be denied by Mbacke Thiam's team save. The first half concluded with Mendoza firing a shot on net from 25 yards out and junior Killian Colombie rising an attempt over the cross bar.
After the opening 45 minutes, UConn outshot Iona 4-3, but the Maroon & Gold had the two lone shots on goal.
UConn drew a penalty kick chance in the 48 minute. Thiam stepped up to the dot looking to give the Huskies the lead, but his low-riding shot towards the left post was denied. After staying grounded on an initial stutter-step move, Sirstins dove and got just enough of his fingers on the shot to deflect it off the post and out of danger.
Thiam came close to avenging his missed penalty kick opportunity in the 64 minute with a left-footed strike that rattled the right post.
In the 71st minute Calderon came to the rescue for the Maroon & Gold. Off a corner kick taken by Niko Petridi, the local North Haven, CT native headed away a net-seeking challenge from UConn's Thiam.
The Huskies had back-to-back corner kicks in the 79 minute, resulting in one off target header. Sirstins kept the Huskies off the board by saving a low-riding header in the 84 minute.
In a mirror of the first half, Iona had two strong chances to score in the closing moments of the second. Junior Humbert Ferrer send a header over the cross bar off a corner, and Colombie had a fast break chance down the right side that he pushed left of the far side post.
The Huskies controlled the temple for first portion of overtime. UConn attempted its eighth corner of the game in the 95 minute, and Thiam had a header go wide in a separate scoring chance all within the first five minutes of the extra period.
Iona finished the game with five total shots, and three shots on goal. UConn concluded with 12 total shots and three shots on goal. The Huskies had a 10-1 advantage in corner kick opportunities.
Along with Lopez, RS junior Sebastian Gordillo, freshman Tomas Jamett and junior Rory Head started in their Iona debuts. Plimpton and Ian Blugh entered the game as substitutes.
The Gaels return to action on Friday, Sept. 1 in Richmond, VA where they'll face VCU at 7:00 PM.
Fans can keep up with the latest news and excitement surrounding Iona men's soccer by following the team on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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