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STORRS, Conn. – The Northeastern men's soccer team (14-3-4) went toe-to-toe with one of the nation's top teams, but a first half goal from Mamadou Diouf sent No. 4 Connecticut past the Huskies on Sunday afternoon in front of 4,675 at Morrone Stadium, 1-0. The loss eliminates NU from the NCAA tournament following one of its best seasons in program history.
During the 2012 campaign, the Huskies set program records for most wins, fewest losses, fewest goals allowed, longest unbeaten streak and tied the team record for longest winning streak.
Northeastern outshot UConn 10-5 in the match, including a 5-1 edge in the first half. Oliver Blum made one save in goal, and finishes the year with the lowest single-season goals against average mark (0.56) in the history of the program.
“We're here to win the game," said head coach Brian Ainscough. "I think we went about it to win the game. If you look at the game and how my kids handled themselves, I think we could call ourselves unlucky, but that's the game of soccer."
The teams played a physical and high energy first half, with Northeastern holding a 5-1 edge in shots. It was UConn, however, which capitalized on its lone shot of the half to take a 1-0 lead into the halftime break.
The Huskies jumped out to a one-goal lead in the 23rd minute of play off of a free kick from the right side. Blum punched out the initial kick from Connecticut, but a header from George Fochive put the ball back into harm's way, and Mamadou Diouf finished it off with his 14th goal of the season into the right side of the net.
"I think we did most of the attacking in the first half," Ainscough said. "The goal was probably against the run of play. That happens in the game. Give credit to the boy for getting the goal. We kept plodding away and didn't change our plan. We knew we'd have some chances and unfortunately we didn't finish them.”
Northeastern would nearly answer back just minutes following the UConn goal as Dante Marini sent a through ball up to Don Anding. Anding then quickly turned and sprinted into the box before firing a shot that just missed going inside the left post.
Tempers continued to flare throughout the second half as NU put consistent pressure on the UConn defense. The Huskies begged for a penalty kick early in the second half as Anding was hauled down in the box with no call.
Blake would thwart a Husky bid later in the half as Anding got behind the UConn back line and tried to send a cross over to Terence Carter cutting to the back post, but Blake jumped in front of the ball to glove it down. Simon Cox kept the match at 1-0 midway through the final 45 minutes when UConn caught Blum out of position. Connecticut nearly sent a pass across the box, but Cox recovered in time to clear the ball out of danger.
Northeastern began taking more chances as the end of regulation approached, and Marini nearly leveled the game on two occasions, sending two shots just over the crossbar in the final minutes.
Game Notes: Northeastern is now 0-1-0 all-time against Connecticut, and 2-2 in the NCAA tournament … The Huskies set the program record for fewest goals allowed (16), topping the previous mark of 17 set in 2008 … Anding finishes his career fifth on the Northeastern record list in career points (62) and third in career goals (25) … Blum finished the season with the lowest single-season goals against average in the history of the program (0.56) ... During 2012, Northeastern set program records for most wins (14), fewest losses (three) and longest unbeaten streak (12), while tying team marks for longest winning streak (six) and most shutouts (10) ... Northeastern held its opponents to one goal or less in 18 of the team's 21 games this season.