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Men's Soccer Team Are National Champs
Some people would call it a resurrection, others a resurgence. Whatever it's called, it began when Ray Reid took the reins of the UConn men's soccer program in 1997. And it hit its zenith Dec. 10, when the Huskies beat Creighton 2-0 for the NCAA championship.
In just four short years, Reid spearheaded a return to postseason play after a nine-year absence. The Huskies have won back-to-back-to-back Big East regular season titles, beginning in 1998, and they captured the Big East Championship title in 1999. In 2000, UConn repeated history by winning its second NCAA national title, its first since 1981.
The 2000 version of the Huskies finished the season with a 20-3-2 record, identical to the record in 1981. And although the award most coveted by the Huskies is the 2000 National Championship trophy, many players received individual awards along the way, led by junior Chris Gbandi, who won the Hermann Trophy Award, given annually to the nation's best college soccer player. Gbandi also was named NSCAA First Team All-American, while seniors Brent Rahim and Darin Lewis were named NSCAA Second Team All-Americans.
Goalie Bryheem Hancock claimed the record for most shutouts - or goals stopped - in a season, with 15, including blanking Creighton in the NCAA finals and Southern Methodist in the semi-finals. His goals against average - the average number of goals scored against him - for the season was a tiny 0.50.
Reid's achievements, too, have been impressive, with this year's win marking his fourth championship as a college coach. This, though, was even more special.
"Every championship is special," says Reid. "But these are my guys, this is my program. This is the best feeling in the world. The past is ancient history. It was an outstanding effort by our group."
As for next year, Reid says expectations will again be high. UConn will lose 10 players, including four starters, to graduation, but another 15 players, including seven starters, will return, joined by a solid recruiting class.