The UConn men’s soccer team is back this weekend as they travel to Hartford to take on the Rider University Broncs in their opening game of the season. This is the first meeting between the two teams in their history after both had very successful 2018 seasons.
The Huskies are coming off an excellent season where they went 12-6-2 (3-2-2 The American) and earned a place in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2015. Rider had similar success, finishing last season 10-10-1 (6-4 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) and winning their conference tournament for the third time in the last four seasons.
This offseason saw some big changes in UConn’s look on both ends of the field, including the loss of offensive star Abdou Mbacke Thiam and the American Athletic Conference (AAC) Defensive Player of the Year in Jacob Hauser-Ramsey. Despite the personnel changes, head coach Ray Reid believes that his Huskies can have another successful season with the right mindset.
“I think it’s a focused group and I think our leadership is doing a fantastic job,” Reid said. “It’s early, we’ve gotta work some problems out, but I’m excited with the group’s mentality. We’re gonna show up and play.”
UConn walked away with a draw against Rutgers University before beating Boston University 3-1 in their two exhibition games last weekend. Freshman Moussa Wade and senior transfer Jordan Hall looked strong in both preseason matches. Moussa tallied two goals while Hall scored one of his own, adding two assists along the way. Reid liked what he saw from UConn’s newcomers.
“I think they bring experience,” Reid said. “Jordan led the Big-10 in scoring last year at Rutgers and Moussa is a very talented player from Africa. I think by committee we’ve got some real good parts. We’ll be ok.”
Reid also understands that no season he coaches is the same as the last, and he does not want to get ahead of himself or the team by thinking too far into the year.
“We’re gonna approach it game by game. We’ve got a good group, we [can] adapt,” Reid said. “I think we’ve got some really good character guys on the team and we’re very excited to get going tomorrow night.”
The Huskies will play their season-opener at Al-Marzook Field at the University of Hartford on Friday at 7 p.m. with a UConn fan bus leaving the Student Union at 5:30 p.m. prior to kickoff.
Conner Gilson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.