Freshman Feature: Men’s soccer’s Pierce Bateson making early splash

Photo of men’s soccer player, Pierce Bateson. In UConn’s first two matches, Bateson was on the field for 102 out of 108 matches. Courtesy of UConn Athletics

It’s not every day that a first-year collegiate-level soccer player can say that they’ve carved out a sizable role in their team’s rotation early in their inaugural season, much less within the team’s first few matches. Yet through two games, Pierce Bateson has been assigned a workload that can only be attributed to his advanced playmaking abilities, outstanding foot skills and impressive work ethic. 

In UConn’s first two matches of the new season, Bateson has seen the field for 102 out of 180 total minutes, a timeshare equivalent of roughly 56%. He’s the only freshman to start for UConn in both of their games thus far, an impressive feat considering he plays the same position as standouts Mateo Leveque and Jayden Reid. He’s clearly a major contributor to the soccer team both now and will likely be in the future. So why exactly should UConn fans believe in the talents of Bateson? 

Originally from Reading, England, Bateson has already put together an impressive list of accolades over his young career. He played for Cedar Stars Academy Bergen, one of New Jersey’s top youth soccer development programs, from 2020 to 2022. He has been a qualifier for the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championship Series and was a Capelli Cup runner-up in Denmark. 

In addition, Bateson has made appearances for Reading Academy from 2016-2020, Phoenix Academy England in 2016 and has played in numerous high-profile matches, including the U-16 Premier Cup Quarterfinal, the U-16 International Cup, the U-15 Floodlit Cup Quarter Final, the U-14 Iber Cup Semi-final and the Gothia Sweden Cup. He has also attended numerous Republic of Ireland National team camps throughout his career. 

Time and time again, Bateson has shown a heightened ability to control the ball and make movements on a dime, oftentimes confusing defenders with his misdirection and creating open space for him and his teammates. In fact, he was able to find a good look in the Huskies’ 2-0 win over Holy Cross on Sunday, with an impressive save by Holy Cross’ goalkeeper, the only thing stopping Bateson from recording his first college goal. As a player that has been a go-to scorer on every team he’s suited up for in the past, the Huskies will benefit greatly from Bateson’s ability to create open space after finishing last as a team in goals scored during conference play last season. 

As Reid reaches upperclassmen status, Bateson figures to see his role increase over the next few years alongside Leveque, a sophomore. For now, he’s still finding a way to make an immediate impact, allowing new head coach Chris Gbandi to confidently send Bateson out as a starter and give him meaningful minutes. A player with tremendous athleticism to complement a high IQ for the sport and a natural knack for finding the open field, Bateson will be a player that UConn fans can rely on as a solid contributor for the foreseeable future.

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