UConn’s young men’s soccer team has made great strides in their past two games, large in part to the play of junior midfielder Kwame Awuah.
Awuah created both of UConn's goals against UC Santa Barbara on Sunday night, the team's second straight victory. He found teammate Abdou Thiam twice in the final six minutes of the game to seal the deal for the Huskies. The equalizer came from a beautiful corner kick, and the game-winner came from a slick center pass from the left side of the box.
“We were not losing at home,” Awuah said. “No one can come here and beat us on our home field. The final 10 minutes were emotional for me. As you can see, I did not celebrate. I just soaked up the moment. It was one of the biggest wins that I have been apart of.”
Awuah has embraced his role as a leader this season. UConn head coach Ray Reid said Awuah is no longer just an extremely talented player. He is a veteran member of the squad, with a responsibility to lead.
“He changes the game. He has an average game and yet he is still involved directly with both goals,” Reid said. “Both goals. That’s what great players do. This guy figured out a way to win the game for us. He has to do it because there are so many younger guys.”
Awuah struggled to find his rhythm early on this season due to a lack of veteran support players. He experienced a lot of frustration on the offensive end. He was unable to put away the Quinnipiac Bobcats two weeks ago with a point blank opportunity in front of the net. However he has not let disappointment effect him or his teammates.
“I didn’t know how much time I had. I should have looked up,” Awuah said after the Quinnipiac game. “That is my fault. I should have finished that and the game would have probably been over. I just have to do better. The goals will come.”
Reid has been very vocal the past couple games about the potential player Awuah can become. Reid said he thinks he is one of the best players he has ever coached.
“Kwame Awuah is one of the best players in the country,” Reid said after Sunday’s win over UC Santa Barbara. “So far this year he has worked his butt off. If we get him going with his gifts, and get the two guys up front going with their gifts, we are going to have something special."
"He is one of the most talented guys to play at Connecticut since I have been here," Reid said. "He makes the first corner kick and he makes the second goal. This kid is as good of a field player as we have had here. People talk about Cyle Larin and O’Brian White, but this kid has got more. Is he going to use it? That is completely up to him. I cannot figure him out."
Awuah was present during Reid’s post game comments on Sunday. He heard what his coach had to say about him and just calmly nodded and embraced the challenge. His final words expressed the confidence level of the whole team.
“We showed everyone in the country that we are back and hopefully we can keep it going,” Awuah said.
Eddie Leonard is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering UConn men's soccer. He tweets @EddieLeonard23.