For 37 years, Len Tsantiris has guided UConn women’s soccer as the only coach in program history. That era came to an end Tuesday as the school announced that Tsantiris will retire.
“"It has truly been an honor to work at UConn,” Tsantiris said in the release. “I want to thank all the administrators and athletic directors who were supportive of my players and helped create and build the tradition of our program.”
Associate head coach Margaret Rodriguez will take over as the interim head coach while “a national search” begins to find Tsantiris’ replacement. Rodriguez will likely be one of the leading candidates — as well as Tsantiris’ choice — since she’s been with the program for the last decade.
Tsantiris came to UConn in 1973 to play soccer for the Huskies under Joe Morrone, where he earned All-New England and All-Yankee Conference honors. After graduating in 1977, Tsantiris went on to coach EO Smith girls’ soccer for four years before taking over the upstart UConn program in 1980.
From the moment he took over, success followed the Huskies. His team made the first 26 NCAA Tournaments and reached at least the Elite Eight every season from 1993-2000. Under his command, UConn only missed the tournament five times.
They reached the national title game in 1984, 1990, 1997 and 2004 but were never able to come home with the trophy.
He finishes his career with 570 wins, the second-most all time and as just the second coach to ever reach 500 wins in women’s collegiate soccer.
In 1997, he was named NSCAA Division I National Coach of the Year after guiding the Huskies to a program-record 23 victories. In 2003, he was inducted into the Connecticut Soccer Hall of Fame.
After winning four AAC championships in three seasons from 2014-2016, the Huskies lost a star core of Rachel Hill, Steph Ribeiro, Emily Armstrong and Tori Patterson. Tsantiris could’ve walked away then but instead stayed, brought in a high-caliber recruiting class and despite a sub-.500 season this year, put the program in excellent position to succeed in the near future.
Simply put, Tsantiris is UConn women’s soccer. He built the program from the ground and brought it to great heights. Whoever they hire as replacement, whether it be Rodriguez or an external option, will have massive shoes to fill.