Through UConn’s first six games of the season, head coach Ray Reid stuck with roughly the same starting lineup and formation, but after a 2-2 tie against North Florida the longtime coach decided to make a change.
Last weekend, Reid brought in senior Cheikh Stephane Coly and freshman Nicolas Apostol in place of freshman Austin Da Silva and sophomore Niko Petridis against Temple. The move paid off with a 2-0 win on the road. Reid repeated the winning lineup against Providence last night.
“Coly was benched to start the season and he’s been coming off the bench,” Reid said. “ Now he’s playing like I knew he could play for three years when he played every minute.”
The senior did not take his lack of playing time negatively; he instead turned it into a positive.
“Starting off the bench was motivation for me. I now have the chance to use my experience. I have a lot of games under my belt and I am just trying to help the team,” Coly said.
Coly got the start against Temple and instantly brought experience and composure to the Huskies midfield in a match where they were thoroughly outshot.
Petridis moved in the opposite direction. The sophomore has been a fixture on the wing this season for UConn, but has been relegated to the bench the last two games.
The Connecticut native has drawn motivation from the move and has had his most productive games of the season off the bench.
“Niko was benched before Temple and the last two games he has a goal and now he’s got the game winning assist, so it is interesting when you sit for a while how your perspective changes,” Reid said.
Like Coly, Petridis has taken the move in stride.
“It has definitely motivated me just to work harder,” Petridis said. “Whatever is best for the team at this point as long as we are getting results, it doesn't matter if I am coming off the bench or starting. As long as we get results, to me that is all that matters.”
The Huskies have two matches in the next week and it will be interesting to see if Reid continues rotating his starting eleven.
Antonio Salazar is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.