THE FORTUNE 500
Tsantiris achieves historic milestone with 500th win
Published: Friday, October 26, 2012
Updated: Friday, October 26, 2012 00:10
History was made under the lights at Joseph Morrone Stadium last night as Len Tsantiris became the second women’s soccer coach in NCAA history to reach 500 career wins when UConn defeated Rutgers in the first round on the Big East playoffs by a score of 3-1. More importantly for Tsantiris and the Huskies, the win extends their season as they advance to the Big East Championship quarterfinals on Sunday against Marquette.
UConn’s regular season concluded in dramatic fashion last Saturday night against Providence when Linda Ruutu scored in the final seconds of double overtime to give UConn the thrilling victory. Ruutu and the Huskies continued their inspired play on Thursday night, coming out of the gates with intensity and control of the ball in the early stages.
Their persistent attack was rewarded 13:13 into the game when Andrea Plucenik passed up a shot from 20 yards out, instead opting for a chip shot to a streaking Ruutu who was able to one-time the ball into the back of the net.
“Our intensity definitely carried over from the Providence game,” said Plucenik, who admitted that despite the coaching staff downplaying the significance of the potential milestone, it added to the team’s intensity. “We wanted to get Coach his 500th win. Even though he says it doesn’t matter to him, it matters to us.”
The Huskies’ determination continued after the goal, and Plucenik notched her second assist of the game less than twenty minutes later on a beautiful corner kick that sailed in front of the net, where Gabrielle Charno was able to head the ball past the Rutgers goalkeeper for her first career goal, giving UConn a 2-0 advantage heading into the half.
Rutgers was able to cut the lead in half at the 61:39 mark when Maura McLaughlin converted a cross from Jonelle Filigno. However, UConn was able to tack on an insurance goal with just over nine minutes left in regulation. After a Danielle Schulmann shot was blocked at the top of the penalty box, Riley Houle found herself with the ball from thirty yards out and quickly launched the ball past the scrambling defense and into the net, ensuring Tsantiris his milestone victory.
“I’m thinking about Marquette now,” said a modest and focused Tsantiris after the game “That will be a big game. We saw some great signs today. We fought, we defended well, we kept moving forward. We did what we had to do.”
Tsantiris took over the UConn women’s soccer team in 1981, only two years after the formation of the program, and has since led the Huskies to national prominence, posting a remarkable 500-170-50 record. In his 32 seasons, Tsantiris’ teams have made the NCAA playoffs 28 times, including four finals appearances, eight regular season Big East Championships and two conference tournament championships. He joins UNC head coach Anson Dorrance (737-48-28) as the only two coaches to achieve the elusive milstone.
“I am in this business because I have a passion,” Tsantiris said. “It’s my life. I grew up playing the game and I try to work with kids to make them better as players and as people. That’s what its all about.”
The Huskies will have an opportunity to give Tsantiris his 501st career victory and continue to advance in the postseason when they travel to Marquette on Sunday for Big East Championship quarterfinals at 2 p.m.