After a heart wrenching loss to Virginia in the NCAA Quarterfinals last season, the No. 8 ranked UConn men's soccer team has one goal on their mind; to reach the final four. In order to get there, the team has adopted wristbands with the slogan "I will not let my brother down."
"They're all wearing them," head coach Ray Reid said. "It's about a team, player one through 30, we're all accountable for each other."
This mindset combined with the team's superb talent has the Huskies ready for another deep postseason run. Despite losing star goalkeeper Andre Blake, the No. 1 overall pick of the MLS SuperDraft, along with key contributors Mamadou Diouf and George Fochive, this UConn team has reloaded and is the favorite to win the American Athletic Conference, receiving seven of eight first place votes.
Despite the loss of the extremely talented Diouf, sophomore Cyle Larin and senior Allando Matheson will be more than ready to lead the Huskies' offensive attack this season. Larin won the AAC Rookie of the Year award after a freshman campaign where he tallied a team-high 14 goals while adding three assists. Matheson finished second on the team with seven goals.
In Saturday's final exhibition game against Boston College, Matheson scored off a SportsCenter-worthy bicycle kick capped off with a Lambeau Leap of sorts into the packed Goal Patrol section.
Another crucial player to UConn's success this season is midfielder Adria Beso Marco. The Spaniard led the Huskies with 10 assists and was last season's AAC Midfielder of the Year. Beso Marco is a superb passer with excellent touch and flair. Think of him as the Shabazz Napier of the soccer team, setting up teammates to score and orchestrating the offense.
The defense, led by Sergio Campbell, is once again a strong suit for the Huskies. Campbell was recently named the AAC Preseason Defender of the Year, and his stellar play has made the decision to replace Blake much more complicated, because the goalies contending for the job aren't seeing much action.
In a three-way competition between Scott Levene, Jacob Wagmeister, and Triston Henry, it appears as if Henry, a junior transfer from Herkimer County Community College, is the frontrunner to start the season opener on Friday. Henry won two national championships in his two-year stint at junior college and is coming off an All-American sophomore season in which he allowed just four goals.
The Huskies take on three teams ranked in the NSCAA Preseason Top 25 this season, the first being No. 17 Coastal Carolina in the regular season home opener at Morrone Stadium Aug. 29 at 7 pm.