[UCLA-CONNECTICUT: Men]Unseeded Connecticut rallied from 2-0 down after 13 minutes and 3-2 in the second half to beat No. 1 seed UCLA, 5-4 in a shootout after their game ended 2-2. The game featured several of college soccer's top players being tipped for possible Generation adidas offers from MLS. German Leo Stolz had two goals for UCLA, Canadian freshman Cyle Larin had two for UConn, and Jamaican keeper Andre Blake continued his shootout heroics in postseason play for the Huskies, stopping the deciding penalty kick by Victor Munoz.
UConn (12-2-8) extended its unbeaten streak to 17 straight matches with the win and will face eighth-seeded Virginia Friday on the road.
"These are a resilient group of guys,” said UConn coach Ray Reid. “Down 2-0 to UCLA, they could have quit but they kept battling. I'm so proud of them and happy that we've earned the right to play another match. We're excited to face a tough Virginia team later this week."
After UCLA jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on goals 37 seconds apart by Felix Vobejda and Stolz, Larin, the American Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year Cyle, got UConn back in the game in the 34th minute with his team-leading 13th goal of the season.
The Huskies drew even in the 57th minute on a strike by freshman defender Kwame Awuah from outside the area, but the Bruins responded three minutes later when Stolz scored his second goal of the match with a blast of his own from outside of the box. But UConn answered again in the 69th minute as Larin scored off a deflection in the box to make it 3-3.
Both teams had chances to win the game. With just 20 seconds to play, Senegalese Mamadou Diouf beat UCLA keeper Earl Edwards Jr. with a header but freshman Gage Zerboni was in position to clear the ball off the line. In the 102nd minute, Jordan Vale almost won the match for the Bruins when he launched a header on goal that Blake stopped at point-blank range.
In the shootout, UConn fell behind when Juho Karppinen missed wide, but Stolz's attempt in the fourth round sailed high. In the sixth round, UConn’s Alex Sanchez just managed to slide his shot underneath Edwards' arms, and Munoz’s attempt was saved by Blake.
Blake saved three penalty kicks in the marathon shootout loss to USF in the American Athletic Conference final and stopped two more to reverse a 2-1 deficit and give UConn a 4-2 shootout win over No. 16 UMBC in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
“Tonight was definitely a cruel ending to our season,” UCLA coachJorge Salcedo said. “The highs are high and the lows are very low. We got off to a fantastic start with the two early goals and we were really dictating the game. Unfortunately, we let them back in it before halftime and they just scored goals at opportune times. I thought we had the best opportunity in overtime with Jordan Vale’s chance and Andre Blake made a great save. Even going into penalty kicks I felt confident and sometimes that’s just the game. It’s not one play. It was a series of plays that led to our demise.”