Late Goal Bounces UConn from NCAAs

Christian Blandon’s 89th minute goal bounced fourth-seed Connecticut from the NCAA Tournament as twelfth-seed Creighton secured a 1-0 win in Sunday’s quarterfinal match at Morrone Stadium.

Blandon broke a scoreless match when he grabbed a pass from Jose Gomez and slammed his shot off the bar before it bounced into the net.

The loss marked the second straight season in which the Huskies watched their tournament hopes fade in the quarterfinals. Meanwhile, Creighton will play Indiana in the semifinal on Dec. 7 at 7:30 in Hoover, Ala.

“The game is cruel game,” Huskies head coach Ray Reid told the media after the game. “If we had more time, with the character of this team, we probably get the goal back. With a minute and a half, that’s tough. We almost did it though.”

Before a sellout, pro-Connecticut crowd, the Jays wasted no time taking it to the Huskies. In the first half, Creighton outshot their adversaries 8-3, and used to the offside trap to stifle them.

“We were offside five times in the first half. Pure, frankly, stupidity,” said Reid. “I think we were drifting and weren’t tactically smart. What do you do for that besides work on beating the line at practice?”

Despite their troubles in the first 45, the Huskies started to turn it around in the second half.

Carlos Alvarez uncovered a pair of chances while Mamadou Diouf fired a shot that that lodged itself in the side netting.

In the 74th minute, the Huskies almost put the game in their hands when Nick Zuniga, who scored the game-winner in last week’s 2-1 overtime win against New Mexico, ripped a shot that was denied right in front of frame. George Fochive grabbed the rebound and fired away before Jeff Gal made the save.

With the minutes melting away and the scoreboard unblemished, it appeared the Huskies were headed for overtime for the second straight game.

That was until Gomez emerged from a scramble inside the area and found Blandon, who quickly sent his shot off the bar before it crashed into the back of the net.

“I never thought I’d feel this way, ever in my life,” Huskies defender Max Wasserman told the media after the game. “There’s not much to say. This is the best group of guys I’ve ever been around. It’s a shame.”

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About Brian O'Connell

Brian O'Connell serves as editor and staff writer at New England Soccer Today. He's also the Revolution beat writer for ESPNBoston.com, and is Officer at Large for the North American Soccer Reporters. He regularly contributes to The Associated Press, and has been featured on MLSSoccer.com & RevsNet.com. Follow him on Twitter: @BrianOConnell21 or contact him via e-mail at BOConnell21@aol.com