After picking up their first penalty kick win in the Ray Reid era, the UConn Huskies are ready for the challenge that awaits them in the Round of 16 in the NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament, the UCLA Bruins.
"UCLA is a very good team, very talented, well coached, best players in America," said Reid. "We're the underdog, on the road, we're just happy to be out there and compete."
The Huskies are riding a 16-game unbeaten streak and All-American goalkeeper Andre Blake is one reason why the Huskies are there.
"We know it's a great feeling," Blake said. "So many college teams in the country and only 16 have the opportunity to be playing right now. It's a great feeling but we're not comfortable playing in the Sweet 16. We want to get to the Final Four and win it."
"It's a neutral field for us. 11 vs 11 and it's soccer so we're going in confident."
UConn will have its hands full as they'll need to keep UCLA's top two goal scorers, Leo Stoltz and Victor Chavez from trying to put one past Blake. Chavez had two goals in the Bruins 4-0 win over Elon last round while Chavez had three helpers on the four goals.
You can follow the action of tonight's game against the UCLA Bruins by listening on WHUS 91.7 FM or WHUS.org at 8 p.m.
Diouf Getting Hot At Right Time
After leading the Huskies in 2012 with 15 goals and 32 points, senior Mamadou Doudou Diouf was hampered by injuries. Since his return though, he's been much better offensively after pressing too hard.
"He's been fantastic," said Reid. "He had an injury and was pressing himself when he came back. We told him to just relax and get it when it counted. He's been great the last three or four games been very focused. And it couldn't have happened to a better kid."
"I've been facing with adversity," said Diouf. "I came from an injury and it was tough coming back. Physically, I wasn't ready. but now I'm feeling better physically and it's helping my game."
Diouf had an assist in the semifinals of the American Athletic Conference Tournament against UCF and scored on his PK attempt in the finals against USF.
In the opening round against the Quinnipiac Bobcats, the Dakar, Senegal native had a goal. In the second round against UMBC, he had a goal and an assist. He also converted his PK chance.
"My finishing is coming like I wanted and at the right moment," said Diouf. "I think it's a good time to get sharp for the team. And hopefully it's going to keep going."
This will be the sixth straight game UConn has faced a win or go home situation, three in the AAC Tournament and now three in the NCAA Tournament.
Let's hope the good luck continues and the Huskies move on to the quarterfinals next weekend against Virginia who beat Marquette 3-1 earlier on Sunday.
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