Norwalk High School Boys Soccer


Zuniga finishes strong sophomore campaign for UConn

The Huskies finished the season ranked No. 9 by the NSCAA

Dec. 18, 2013

STORRS, Conn. – The 2013 season, much like 2012, was a season of defensive dominance for the UConn men’s soccer team. Head coach Ray Reid’s squad garnered national attention throughout the season, reaching the inaugural American Athletic Conference Championship match and becoming  the only team in the nation to make an appearance in the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals for a third consecutive season.

A 12-3-8 record saw the Huskies ranked in the top-25 for the majority of the year, before closing the season ranked as the No. 9 team by the NSCAA. UConn finished the season 12th in the country with a 0.69 goals against average, 10th with a 0.52 shutout percentage, and scored 36 goals on offense.

The Huskies embarked on a 17-match unbeaten streak throughout the year, stretching from Sept. 21 to Dec. 6. During the streak, UConn out-scored its opponents by a 33-13 margin and boasted nine shutouts.

Connecticut finished second in The American with a 4-0-4 conference record, ending the regular season as the only team without a conference loss. UConn advanced to the conference championship match, before falling in a penalty kick shoot-out, 6-5, to USF in Frisco, Texas. Despite the result, the Huskies grabbed an at-large bid to the 2013 NCAA Tournament, earning their 34th overall and 16th consecutive trip to the tournament.

In tournament action, the Huskies edged out in-state rival Quinnipiac, 2-1, at Morrone Stadium in the First Round to advance to play No. 5 nationally-ranked UMBC. After battling the Retrievers to a 2-2 draw through two overtime periods, the Huskies advanced, 4-2, in a dramatic penalty kick shootout and earned the right to face top-seeded UCLA in Los Angeles, Calif., in the Third Round.

The Huskies found themselves down by two goals early against the No. 1 Bruins, but battled back, paced by two goals by Cyle Larin to force penalty kicks for the second straight match. In the shootout, junior keeper Andre Blakeforced two misses and the Huskies upended UCLA, 5-4.

With the victory, the Huskies advanced to the program’s 14th-ever NCAA Quarterfinal match, and third consecutive appearance. The Huskies became the only team in the nation to reach the round of eight in each of the last three seasons. In the match against eighth-seeded Virginia, the Huskies fell, 2-1, to the Cavaliers after surrendering a goal in the 62nd minute.

Several individuals found themselves on the national landscape with excellent performances. Blake earned his third consecutive yearly keeper accolade, taking home American Athletic Conference Goalkeeper of the Year recognition. Junior Adria Beso was crowned the American Athletic Conference Midfielder of the Year and Larin was tabbed as the conference Rookie of the Year. UConn had four American Athletic Conference First-Team selections and seven overall honorees.

Blake, Larin and Beso were joined on the All-Conference First Team by junior center back Sergio Campbell, while seniors Mamadou Diouf and George Fochive were named to the All-Conference Second Team. Freshman backKwame Awuah also was recognized, earning a spot on the All-Conference Rookie team. Senior center back Michael Mercado was named the conference Defensive Player of the Week for the week of Sept. 9 – 16.

Blake received NSCAA First Team All-America honors for the second straight season, while Beso was named to the All-America Second Team.

Blake, Fochive, and Beso were all named to the NSCAA All-Northeast First Team while Larin was recognized as a Second Team honoree. Redshirt-senior Colin Bradley was placed on the All-Northeast Third Team.

Larin led the Huskies on offense in 2013, finishing 17th in the country with a 0.61 goals per game average and tied for 6th with 14 total goals. Four Huskies finished with double-digit points throughout the season, including sophomore Nicholas Zuniga who netted three goals in postseason play. Bradley finished his career with 90 consecutive starts and was named the Ed Tremble Male Player of the Year by the Connecticut Junior Soccer Association.

Junior transfer Edir DaGraca finished with six points on two goals, after seeing action in nine matches. Freshman forward Ethan Decker scored his first collegiate goal on a free-kick against then-ranked No. 10 Saint Louis, before missing time because of an injury. Jakob Nerwinski added five assists in 21 games for the Huskies at the outside back position.

Junior forward Allando Matheson finished second on the team with seven goals and 17 points, including back-to-back two goal performances against Memphis and Columbia in mid-October.

In addition to player accolades, 17th-year coach John Deeley was named  the Glenn “Mooch” Myernick National Men’s Assistant Coach of the Year by the NSCAA.

The Huskies once again enjoyed large crowds at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium, finishing the season with a total attendance 43,323 for an average of 3,610 fans per match.