In 2016 the UConn women’s soccer team dominated the American Athletic Conference, were a Top-25 team and had two of the nations premier attackers in Rachel Hill and Stephanie Ribeiro. Emily Armstrong was a stalwart in goal and Tori Patterson anchored the defense in front of her. With Len Tsantiris at the helm, the team had a strong year.
Tsantiris has been around for a while, but after a substantial drop off in results just one season later without those now-former players in the 2017 fall, in which UConn went 7-9-3 and 5-4 in conference, Tsantiris has decided to wrap up his 37-year tenure as the program’s head coach. At the time Tsantiris said via a release, “It has truly been an honor to work at UConn” and subsequently thanked the numerous constituents one might expect.
Tsantiris finished with 570 career wins, second all time in the record books of women’s soccer. He will leave with 31 NCAA tournament appearances, including a 26 year stretch of consecutive appearances from 1982-2007, under his belt as well as four national runner ups and an induction to the Connecticut Soccer Hall of Fame. A myriad of accolades could be listed and beaten to death, but the point is clear, Tsantiris was here for a while, and he won, a lot.
Losing your leader of 37 years is likely a culture shock, but his former player and longtime assistant Margaret Rodriguez will take the reign, smoothing the transition.
Tsantiris isn’t the only one moving on. The Huskies will lose five seniors. Tanya Altrui and Danielle Gottwik were consistent attackers on the wings. Faith McCarthy was underutilized but strong in the midfield, especially late in the season. Sabrina Toole played every game from her midfield slot and was the team’s captain. In net, transfer Courtney Hofer played less than a full season due to health issues, but no one on the team may have been more crucial to any success this season.
According to the UConn Blog, Hofer and Toole will pursue education and soccer in Italy, where they attend a soccer business school while playing semi-professionally and attempting to impress upon Serie A scouts.
The Huskies did not find the success they were accustomed too from the get-go. They lost four of their first five games, drawing the other against Syracuse. They turned things around with a 3-0 win over Central Connecticut State in the second game of the CCSU Tournament, and from then on out wins and losses were sporadic. The Huskies played a whopping five overtime games going 1-1-3. Things came to a close in their conference tournament opener when they lost to Memphis 3-1 in Orlando.
Despite a solid senior class, most of the potency came elsewhere. Early in the season freshman Kess Elmore, a Liverpool, England native, was their premier scorer but she faded as time went on. Elmore wrapped up her debut in Storrs with five goals (second on the team) and one assist, good for 11 points which was behind only Vivien Beil. Beil, a German by way of transfer from the University of Maine, finished with 18 points and a well-rounded offensive season. She played and started all 19 games, scoring six goals in combination with six assists. Freshman Yamilee Eveillard and Toole also had four goals apiece.
It will be a forgettable season in the record books, but the young talent in the program got a chance to develop. Losing some sturdy seniors will sting, but next year, under a new regime, there is great possibility.
Matt Barresi is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.