Sep 9, 2013
Photo Gallery Link: http://www.uconnhuskies.com/view.gal?id=146445
STORRS, Conn- The No. 3 UConn men’s soccer team held its annual Meet the Huskies Banquet over the weekend on the Storrs campus, at the Rome Ballroom, where hundreds of people had the opportunity to meet this year’s team and honor the achievements of those who have been a part of the program in the past.
Many youth soccer fans from around the state were able to personally meet the members of this season’s squad when the players signed autographs for an hour before the banquet started Saturday night. Following the autograph session, each player was introduced to the crowd before the honoree portion of the night began.
This year there were six men honored at the banquet for their contributions to Connecticut soccer. Edwin Rivera and Roberto Vargas, who played for the 2000 National Championship team, were both recognized early on in the evening. Vargas made the 1997 All-Conference Second Team as a freshman, while Rivera was named to the 1999 All-Academic Team.
Chris West, the current UConn Head Strength and Conditioning Head Coach, was also honored for his work with the team. West held positions in the professional ranks with the Oakland Raiders and the Seattle Seahawks before coming to Connecticut, where he has specialized in using heart rate monitors to assess physical exertion of athletes in sports in specific settings.
Following dinner, Bob Dikranian, who founded the Southern Connecticut State men’s soccer program in 1966, was recognized for all that he has done for the sport in the state. In his 21 years as head coach at Southern, Dikranian held a record of 227-94-21 appearing in 14 NCAA Division II Tournaments and winning six NCAA Championships.
The last two honorees of the night were former UConn players Joseph Trager and Edward Raftery, who both played under former Connecticut coach Joseph Morrone from 1982-85. Trager made the All-Tournament Team in 1983 and was a team captain in 1985, while Raftery’s 30 career assists at UConn still stand as the ninth most in program history. Both men spoke eloquently about their time at Connecticut and reflected on what it was like to play under Morrone.
After Connecticut head coach Ray Reid addressed the crowd, the night concluded with the announcement of the second annual Bobby Rhine Award. Rhine, the former UConn standout who played for Connecticut from 1994-98, was drafted sixth overall to the Dallas Burn in the 1999 MLS College Draft. Two years ago, at the age of 35, Rhine tragically died of a heart attack. Starting last year Connecticut has given out an award in his name at the Meet the Huskies Banquet.
This year’s recipient of the award was Neil Brickley, who played for the Huskies in the 1970s. Brickley, like Rhine, showed excellent leadership during his time at UConn both on and off the field. During his speech, Brickley talked about his time playing at UConn and how great it was to see his son, Robert, go through the program when he played for the Huskies from 2006-10.