Men's Soccer: Prepping for 2014 season, UConn takes on Hartford Tuesday
Ray Reid has lost a few weapons since the UConn men's soccer team's loss to Virginia on Dec. 6, but the weapons he has remaining, the returning players from 2013, will be on display Tuesday night in Hartford.
After several weeks of practice in the Shenkman Training Center, the Huskies will take their game outside to play the University of Hartford, UConn's first of five games this April.
The Huskies went 12-3-8 during the 2013 season, UConn's first in the American Athletic Conference. UConn was the only team to finish undefeated in conference play with a 4-0-4 record that resulted in a second-place finish behind Louisville in the regular season standings.
Wins over SMU and Central Florida put UConn in the first-ever AAC championship game against South Florida, a game the Huskies lost in penalty kicks.
The loss extended UConn's streak of penalty kick losses in postseason play, a streak that ended a week later.
After a win over Quinnipiac in the first round of the NCAA tournament, UConn, unaccustomed to playing on the road in the postseason, had to go to Maryland-Baltimore County to play for a spot in the Sweet 16.
After 110 minutes passed with the score tied 2-2, junior midfielder Adria Beso beat UMBC goalkeeper Phil Saunders in the penalty shootout, giving UConn its first ever shootout win in the NCAA tournament.
One week later, UConn again found itself in penalties on the road, this time against No. 1 UCLA. The Huskies eliminated the Bruins, advancing to the Elite Eight for the third straight season.
In the national quarterfinals, senior Kareem Morad scored his first and only goal for the Huskies to equalize against the Cavaliers in the 39th minute, setting up a back-and-forth, nerve-racking second half. Virginia scored in the 63rd minute, and despite some late chances, the Huskies could not equalize.
UConn has lost several key players from the 2013 squad. Andre Blake became the first goalkeeper ever drafted No. 1 in Major League Soccer. George Fochive was drafted by the Portland Timbers. Mamadou Doudou Diouf, a draft pick of the Vancouver Whitecaps, is now on loan with Charleston Battery in the USL Pro division. The Huskies also lost Morad, midfielders Colin Bradley and Juho Karppinen, and reserve goalkeeper Russell Dougan.
Weapons are still plentiful, however, for Reid and the Huskies. Despite being flirted with by MLS, freshman Cyle Larin, who scored 14 goals in 2013, chose to stay. Beso is among the best returning midfielders in college soccer, and fellow senior Sergio Campbell will surely be up for AAC Defensive Player of the Year.
Replacing Blake is Jake Wagmeister, who kept clean sheets in two games early in the 2013 season while Blake was out injured.
Tuesday's game kicks off at 7 p.m. After that, the Huskies will be back in action Saturday against Boston College at Addison Park in Glastonbury.
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