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Connecticut 2014 Team and Recruiting Class Review

School – Connecticut
Conference – American Athletic Conference
Coach – Ray Reid (18th Season)

Background – It was business as usual for UConn in 2013. The Huskies went 12-3-8, reached a 16th consecutive NCAA tournament and made a third straight quarterfinal appearance. Defense was the name of the game, as Ray Reid’s squad allowed a paltry 0.69 goals per game, good for 12th in the nation. The team posted 12 clean sheets on the year, including a stretch of nine in 10 games late in the season. Keeper Andre Blake was a huge factor in that success. The Jamaican international posted a second consecutive All-American season and was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft to the Philadelphia Union. Blake posted three clean sheets in the AAC tournament, but a tough-luck penalty shootout loss to USF in the final likely cost the Huskies a seed in the NCAA tournament and left them with a difficult road to the College Cup. After nipping Quinnipiac at home, 2-1, in the first round, UConn hit the road and topped UMBC and UCLA in penalty shootouts to set up a date with Virginia in the quarterfinals. A third consecutive road victory wasn’t in the cards, however, as the Huskies dropped a 2-1 decision to fall one game short of the College Cup for a third straight season. In addition to Blake, midfielder Adria Beso earned All-American honors and was named AAC Midfielder of the Year. Defender Sergio Campbell and forward Cyle Larin joined Blake and Beso on the All-AAC first team. Forward Mamadou Diouf and midfielder George Fochive were named to the All-Conference second team. Defender Kwame Awuah joined Larin on the College Soccer News Freshman All-American team.

Offense – Cyle Larin had a hand in nearly half of UConn’s 36 goals a season ago, potting 14 himself and adding three assists. Larin will return this fall as a sophomore and will be even more of the focal point of the offensive attack due to the graduation of Mamadou Diouf (2g, 5a). Larin is far from the only weapon, however. Senior Allando Matheson (7g, 3a) and junior Nicholas Zuniga (4g, 3a) are back at forward as well. Former Residency Program standout Ethan Decker could be in line for a breakout sophomore season after scoring once in 11 games last fall. Senior Adria Beso (10a) returns to pull the strings in the midfield after an All-American junior campaign. The Villarreal C.F. youth academy product will be asked to cover a lot of ground for the Huskies after the graduation of fellow midfield starters Colin Bradley and George Fochive.

Defense – Replacing goalkeeper Andre Blake will be Job 1 after the All-American left Storrs a year early for the professional ranks. Junior Jacob Wagmeister was the No. 2 keeper a year ago, and he’ll battle newcomer Triston Henry for the starting job. Henry posted 29 shutouts in two seasons for Herkimer County CC and helped the team to a pair of NJCAA Division III national titles. The defense in front of goal should once again be among the best in the nation. The unit lost Michael Mercado to graduation, but returns regular starters Sergio Campbell, Kwame Awuah and Jakob Nerwinski. Campbell played a team-high 2,204 minutes a year ago and should be a key team leader this year as a senior. Nerwinski started 15 games as a freshman last year and tied for second place on the team with five assists. Awuah started 22 games in his freshman campaign last season and tallied a goal and two assists. Newcomers Dylan Greenberg (CSN’s No. 7 recruit in the Class of 2014) and Elliott Ackroyd (Nottingham Forest youth academy product) could also be impact defenders during their first year in Storrs.

Newcomers – Four Star Recruiting Class  

Elliot Ackroyd – Defender – Nottingham, England – Former member of the Nottingham Forest youth academy.

Cheikh Coly – Midfielder – Dakar, Senegal

Dylan Greenberg – Defender – Dix Hills, N.Y. – Started 43 games over the past two years for Albertson SC in the Development Academy. Has represented the U.S. for the U-18 National Team.Rated the No. 7 recruit in the Class of 2014 by College Soccer News. Albertson 28

Triston Henry – Goalkeeper –Scarborough, Ontario –Transfer from Herkimer County CC. Recorded 29 shutouts in two seasons at Herkimer, leading the team to consecutive NJCAA Division III national titles.

Joseph Swenson – Midfielder – Massapequa Park, N.Y. – Played in 51 games over the past two seasons for the New York Red Bulls in the Development Academy. Rated the No. 117 recruit in the Class of 2014 by College Soccer News.

Prognosis for 2014 – No matter who comes or go, the Huskies always find themselves in the thick of it come playoff time, and there’s no reason to think that won’t be the case in 2014. Blake’s departure is a big loss, but Larin’s decision to spurn MLS and return to Storrs should help soften the blow. He and Beso will be among the best offensive combinations in the nation this fall. The non-conference schedule is littered with challenges, including trips to Wake Forest and Washington and visits from Coastal Carolina, Syracuse and Providence. The Huskies should again contend for the AAC crown in Year 2 of the conference, and they will certainly hope to earn an NCAA seed this season to make the journey to the College Cup a little more manageable than last year. And after three consecutive quarterfinal exits from the NCAA tournament, the Huskies seem overdue for a trip to the College Cup.


Posted in 2014 Team Reviews

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