UConn soccer team plays at Addison Park

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Thu., Apr. 19, 2012
UConn freshman defender Gianna Roma signs a young player's shirt after UConn's exhibition match vs. the New England Mutiny on April 14. Photos by Steve Smith.
UConn freshman defender Gianna Roma signs a young player's shirt after UConn's exhibition match vs. the New England Mutiny on April 14. Photos by Steve Smith.

Young local soccer players got a treat when they were able to see the University of Connecticut players they admire play an exhibition game at Addison Park.

The UConn Huskies women's and men's teams played at the park, at the invitation of the Hartwell Soccer Club on April 14 and 21, respectively. While the men's team had visited Glastonbury several times in recent years, it was the Lady Huskies' first visit, when they played the New England Mutiny of the Women's Premier Soccer League.

Hartwell girls' U12 players were able to take part in a training clinic with the UConn players, before the game, in which they were able to spend some one-on-one time with the college’s stars.

Hartwell President Mary Kay Brophy said the girls were excited.

“It's great for girls to have their role models around, and see how their own soccer careers can advance,” Brophy said. “The Huskies are good role models, not just because they are good players, but because they are committed and disciplined. These girls are just wonderful, as far as sharing their experiences with the game, and how they worked at it.”

Although UConn lost to the Mutiny, 1-0, in an exciting game, coach Len Tsantiris said it was a good test for both sides, and great for reaching out to the community.

“It's a great atmosphere, and it works for both of us to get in the community and work with soccer clubs and youngsters,” Tsantiris said, adding that he has played at Addison Park himself, “with the old guys,” and that UConn has held clinics there before.

“I think it's a real nice place,” he said.

The coach added that UConn currently has several injured players who are expected to be healthy over the summer, just as the influx of incoming freshmen arrive on campus. Tsantiris said the injuries brought down the team last year, but he expects a great season for the Huskies next fall.

“As the season went on, we were depleted totally,” he said. “Next year, we're bringing back a lot of kids that were hurt, and some new kids. It's going to be a good group.”

The UConn-Hartwell connection is also expected to last into the college soccer season in the fall. In the past, the UConn men's team has seen as many as 1,000 Hartwell players attend a game. Brophy said she hopes to see a bunch of Glastonbury girls in the UConn stands this fall.

Brophy said the exhibition games are also a way of ramping up to the Spring Warm-up tournament, which is expected to be the biggest ever, with 226 teams signed up. Hotels in the area, including Rocky Hill, are booked with Hartwell visitors for the weekend, and fields in Portland had to be added for the tournament.

“We have upwards of 15,000 people expected, including families [of players],” Brophy said. “It takes a village, and it takes a whole lot of people to put this event on, but it feels like a little community.”

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