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HAMDEN, Conn. – The Quinnipiac University men's soccer team went toe-to-toe with No. 10 nationally-ranked University of Connecticut on Thursday night, but came up short in a 2-1 decision from Joseph J. Morrone Stadium in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. With the loss, the Bobcats fell to 9-5-7 overall which serves as the final record of their 2013 campaign.
In front of nearly 3,000 fans on UConn's campus, Quinnipiac and the Huskies battled through a vigorous affair under the lights on a chilly night in Storrs. However, a late goal from Mamadou Doudo Diouf in the 81st minute of play proved to be the difference, sending the nation's 10th ranked team into the second round for a clash with No. 6 UMBC on Sunday night.
After a defensive stalemate through the opening 45 minutes, UConn broke the deadlock early in the second half. As a result of some nifty passing deep in the Bobcat zone, Jakob Nerwinski found the ball at his feet along the goal line and whipped a low cross into the penalty area. After a few deflections, Nicholas Zuniga was in the right place at the right time to poke home the go-ahead goal.
Resilient as always and with an animated crowd in their corner, the Bobcats rallied back behind two loud saves from MAAC Goalkeeper of the Year, Borja Angoitia (Bilbao, Spain). Angoitia, who finished with four saves in the match, stopped a penalty kick in the 56th minute, and then made another spectacular save minutes later to keep QU within striking distance. It was the third straight game that Angoitia had recorded a save on a penalty kick.
Quinnipiac's break came in the 73rd minute when its leading goal scorer got into the action. Senior Simon Hinde (Canberra, Australia) took full advantage a miscue on the UConn backline, and beat Andre Blake near post for the game-tying tally. It was Hinde's 10th goal of the season, and biggest goal of his collegiate career. It also ended a six-game shutout streak from the Husky defense.
Unfortunately for the Bobcats, UConn made another offensive push and converted on a crafty goal to regain the lead. Nerwinski once again found the ball at his feet on the right side of the box, where he lofted a perfect cross to Diouf in the middle of the box. Diouf timed his run nicely and finished off the play for his first goal of the season, and the eventual game-winner.
Quinnipiac pressed forward for the equalizer, but the nation's third-ranked defense wasn't going to surrender a second goal. Blake made one save in net for his 10th win of the season.
The game was the second meeting all-time between the two teams. UConn defeated Quinnipiac by the same count back in 2004 on UConn's campus.
The Bobcats, who claimed the MAAC's automatic bid to the Big Dance, conclude a magical season that fulfilled a myriad of team and individual oriented goals. For the Huskies, they advance in search of their fourth national championship.
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