STORRS, Conn. - After wrapping up a successful spring season in April, the UConn men's soccer team is in the midst of an 11-day trip to Italy on May 12-23 and will detail its trip with a daily blog, posted to uconnhuskies.com.
The team, which will spend its stay in Rome, is scheduled to participate in three matches, beginning with a 1-1 contest vs. Ternana Calcio on Monday, May 16. Commonly referred to as Ternana, the club has twice played in Serie A (seasons 1972-73 and 1974-75) and 27 times in Serie B.
In its opening match, Connecticut jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the 27th minute off a goal from rising junior Cheikh Stephane Coly before Ternana evened the matched at one with a tally in the 89th minute. Keep up with the team via pictures on and off the field during its trip by following @UConnMSOC on Twitter or by liking the team on Facebook.
Next up, the team squares off against A.S. Roma , which also competes in Serie A, on May 19 before rounding out its trip slate with a tilt against U.S. Latina Calcio on May 22. Latina is based in Latina, Lazio and currently plays in Serie B.
In addition to its match schedule, the team is set to train at A.A. Roma and participate in sessions at the Italian Olympic Training Center in Rome.
Day One: Hello fans of UConn men's soccer! As many of you already know, the men's soccer team has embarked on a Foreign Tour in Rome, Italy. After months of hard training at UConn this past spring, we have taken our talents to the other side of the world to test ourselves against some of Europe's finest! May 13th, marked the first day of our 10 day tour of the Eternal City, and it was chock full of...well, traveling. The team left Storrs at about 11 a.m. on May 12th and headed for JFK International Airport, where a 5:15 flight had us headed for Italy in the early evening. Upon arrival in Rome (7 hours and 40 minutes later), the team was exhausted from a long day of travel.
Although the long journey left the team a bit weary, there was not much rest to be had during our first day in Italian Capital. After checking into the Regent Hotel in Rome, the team enjoyed a delicious three-course lunch at Carrot's Café, Roma, complete with lasagna, chicken, and cheesecake. After stuffing our faces, it was time to head to the training field at the Italian Olympic Training Facility for a light practice to loosen up the legs and get the blood pumping. Even though most of us were dog-tired, it was great to get up and moving after 15 hours of travel. In the evening, we enjoyed a nice team dinner in downtown Rome, which seemed to be the perfect cap to a great first day in the city. It's time for the squad to get some rest for the night - three big games coming up this week! Be sure to keep up with our blog on the UConn men's soccer Website, as we'll have new posts each day. So, until tomorrow, Ciao!
Day Two (Written by Jake Nerwinski)
Ciao a tutti! (Hello all),
What a jam packed day it was for the UConn Men's soccer team. After a grueling travel day, the guys were able to catch up on some much needed sleep. With many of the guys getting up to 12 hours a sleep, an enormous breakfast (provided by the hotel) was exactly what the doctor ordered. When I say enormous, I mean ENORMOUS. There were eggs, salad, bacon, turkey, pastrami, bread, yogurt, donuts, and chocolate cake (yes even chocolate cake!!!). After finishing breakfast the team geared up and set out to our first real training session in Italy.
We were lucky enough to train at one of the most storied soccer clubs in the entire world, AS Roma, who's training facility is located in Trigoria, Italy. Even though there was torrential downpour during our practice, the guys were able to have fun and more importantly take the first steps of preparing for our first game against Napoli on Monday.
After a successful training session, the team had lunch at the Sheraton Roma and what a lunch it was! Pasta, lasagna, chicken, pastrami, salad, and over ten different kinds of bread (of course we had to try them all). Upon finishing lunch we loaded the bus and headed straight towards the famous Colosseum in the heart of Rome.
The Colosseum is one of the most famous sites not only in Italy, but in the entire world. The team was very excited to take the tour of this historical site. We were able to go inside and see close up where thousands of gladiator fights, executions, mock sea battles, and animal hunts took place.
The day ended with an absolutely delicious dinner. With full stomachs and tired feet, the team headed back to home base and got some rest to prepare for our next day of training. Until tomorrow! Ciao!
Day Three (Written by Santiago Muriel)
The third day of our foreign tour kicked off with another delicious breakfast at the Hotel Regent. After loading up on eggs, bacon, and pastries, the team headed out for training at the Italian Olympic Training Facility to prepare for tomorrow's match against Ternana. After a quick shower we left for Restaurant Sottosopra located in the Piazza Trilussa, one of the oldest sections of Rome and one of the best places for authentic Italian cuisine. Lunch consisted of three appetizers including toasted bread and fine cheese, deep fried veggies, and fresh bruschetta.The main entrée was meatballs and mashed potatoes, followed by delicious tiramisu for dessert!
After lunch the boys had a bit of free time to relax, hang out, and explore the city of Rome. In the evening the team ate dinner at the beautiful MET Restaurant just down the street from Stadio Olimpico. After dinner we took a short bus ride to the stadium to watch Lazio take on Fiorentina in the final match of the Seria A season. The match was fantastic, although the home side, Lazio, fell 4-2 to the visitors from Florence. The team bussed back to the Hotel Regent after the game to rest up for the match against Ternana tomorrow - but until then, Ciao!
It was game day for the UConn Men's Soccer team here in Rome! The morning started with breakfast at the hotel followed by a tour of the famous Stadio Olimpico which is home to the storied clubs AS Roma and Lazio. Stadio Olimpico is also where the Italian national team plays their home games and it is part of the Italian Olympic training center. The team was able to see both AS Roma and Lazio's pregame locker rooms as well as walk through the tunnel and onto the field. To have the opportunity to be on the beautiful grass field and look around at a stadium that holds over 55,000 fans was truly remarkable. The guys were able to sit on the teams' benches and experience (to a degree) what it is like to be players and coaches at this high of a level in the soccer world.
After the tour the team headed back to the hotel for the pregame meal. Upon finishing the meal the guys suited up and headed to the bus and began mentally preparing for the game. When we arrived at the field, the rain started to come down hard. Luckily just before the team started warming up, the rain had stopped and sun began to peak through the clouds. It was shaping up to be a perfect day to play some calcio (soccer in Italian).
The team ended up playing to a 1-1 tie against Ternana Calcio under 20's team. The UConn goal was scored by Cheikh Coly from about 30 yards out. Coly's goal was one the best goals scored by a UConn player in quite some time. UConn was able to hold a 1-0 lead until Ternana scored in the 86th minute on a very obvious non-offsides call by the sideline referee. Although the game should have been won the team played well, controlled possession the entire game, and created many goal scoring opportunities. This game definitely gave the guys confidence that they can play (and even at times outplay) against very well respected teams in Italy.
Even though the game was the highlight of the day, the dinner was surely the highlight of the night. After waiting three long days, we finally had authentic Italian Pizza! And boy was it delicious! I now fully understand why Italians are known for their pizza. After arriving back at the hotel, some of the guys were able to venture down the street to get some gelato for desert. What is more fitting then having pizza and gelato in the same night in Italy? The answer to that is absolutely nothing! Until tomorrow everyone Ciao!