Men’s soccer has their eyes on the prize
Published: Friday, August 30, 2013
Updated: Friday, August 30, 2013 01:08
The UConn men’s soccer team will open their regular season tonight at home against St. Francis College.
UConn is coming off a 2012 campaign in which the team finished with an overall record of 17-4-1. Despite last season’s successes, the team’s two losses at the hands of Notre Dame in the Big East semifinals and Creighton in the NCAA quarterfinals have left the Huskies with a bitter taste in their mouths.
UConn, coming into the season ranked No. 5 in the nation, is looking to go even further this season.
“I don’t think a lot of people would have been saying at the end of last season that we’d have a better team this year,” said associate head coach John Deeley. “We have as much talent and depth with this group as maybe in our whole time here. It’s one of the deepest teams we’ve ever had.”
UConn (0-0) is coming off of an undefeated preseason with home wins against Iona and NJIT. But the beginning of the regular season is what the Huskies have had circled on their calendars.
“We’ve been waiting for this for eight months,” Deeley said. “There will be a little bit of excitement and anxiety, but we’re ready to give the fans something to cheer about.”
Among others, leading the charge this season for the Huskies will be key returning players in junior goalkeeper Andre Blake and senior forward Mamadou Doudou Diouf.
“My goal for this season is the same as everyone else’s: To win a national championship,” Diouf said “And first of all, my goal is to win on opening night Friday against St. Francis because that’s the most important game of the season for me right now.”
Stepping into a bigger role this season will be some of the younger players including sophomore forward Nicholas Zuniga, who made a habit of coming up clutch for the Huskies late last season.
“I’m just going to go out there and play to the best of my ability; I play for the team not for myself,” Zuniga said. “I know I’ve got more expectations this year but I’m still going to play my best with my teammates here to help me every step of the way.”
The Huskies have many tough tests on their schedule this year, including games at Louisville and Yale later in October. But the push for the team’s fourth national championship all begins tonight against St. Francis.
“We’re trying to do something here,” Diouf said. “And that all starts Friday.”
UConn kicks off against the Terriers tonight at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium at 7:00 p.m.