Last season was a very strong showing for head coach Ray Reid and the UConn men’s soccer team, finishing the season 12-6-2, a 4-win improvement from 2017 and their best record since 2013. The Huskies ranked No. 15 in the nation during the season and earned themselves a ticket to their first NCAA tournament since 2015. Though the year ended with a second-round loss to No. 2 seeded Indiana University, there were still many positive takeaways from the 2018 season that the team can continue to build upon this year.
Entering 2019, the Huskies will play their home games at Dillon Stadium in Hartford after Joseph J. Morrone Stadium, home to UConn soccer for the past 50 years, was torn down for renovations. The Huskies were dominant on their own turf last season, going 10-1-1 and remaining undefeated until their last home game of the season against Southern Methodist University. They will need to carry the success they had at Morrone over to Dillon Stadium if they hope to repeat or improve from last year’s record.
The new stadium is not the only major change the Huskies are facing this season though, as UConn also had some of its best players from last year graduate.
The captains of UConn’s 2018 team, defenseman Jacob Hauser-Ramsey and star forward Abdou Mbacke Thiam, graduated last spring. Both earned unanimous selections into the American Athletic Conference (AAC) All-Conference First Team in their senior year, with Hauser-Ramsey also earning AAC Defensive Player of the Year. Other notable losses are defender Dylan Greenberg, midfielder Munir Saleh, and goalkeeper Austin Aviza.
Returning players will have to step up in place of the graduated seniors and transfers if the Huskies want to remain near the top of the conference.
Redshirt senior and forward Dayonn Harris will lead the pack this season on the offensive end. The Harris-Thiam connection was one for the history books, but it is time for Harris to make a name of his own. Last season, the forward finished second on the team in goals (5), assists (7), points (17), and shots (40), all behind Thiam. Now with Thiam gone, a window is open for Harris to step into and lead this team. With Harris, 2018 AAC Rookie of the Year Felix Metzler is back for his sophomore season and ready to lead the Huskies defense along with junior Robin Lapert. Both were AAC All-Conference Second Team selections last season. The duo will look to keep the team’s defense near the top of the conference.
Most exciting for the Huskies this season, though, is the incoming class full of talent that should be a welcome sight to UConn fans.
The Huskies added goalkeeper Marcus Peterkin to help replace Aviza, who started in 14 games last season and held a 9-3-2 record. Peterkin is the top goalie in the state of New Jersey and is currently ranked as the No. 4 goalkeeper in the country. He should be able to step right into the starting 11 and have an immediate impact in net. UConn also added winger Jayden Reid from New York. Reid played five seasons with the New York Red Bulls and is seen as one of the most dynamic wing players in the Northeast. He is also set to compete for a starting spot in the midfield. On the offensive end, UConn also signed transfer Jordan Hall and freshman Wesley Leggert. Both have had success with prior teams and will provide much needed depth to the UConn attack.
The Huskies had their first exhibition match of the year against Rutgers last Monday, tying the Scarlet Knights 2-2 with goals coming from newcomers Jordan Hall and Moussa Wade. 26 players saw action in the game, and while this season is going to look very different for the Huskies, the coaching staff and players remain confident that they will have another strong year.
UConn’s next match is another exhibition against Boston University on Saturday, August 24 at Dillon Stadium.
Conner Gilson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.