Hall of Fame UConn soccer coach Joe Morrone dies at 79

STORRS, Conn. (AP) Joe Morrone, a Hall of Fame coach who led the Connecticut men’s soccer team to the 1981 national title, has died. He was 79.

He died Wednesday night at his Mansfield home after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, the school said.

Morrone guided the Huskies from 1969 to 1996. He previously coached at Middlebury College in Vermont from 1958 to 1968. When he retired, he was one of four college coaches with at least 400 career victories. His record was 422-199-64.

At UConn, Morrone compiled a 28-year record of 358-178-53. The Huskies were nationally ranked 16th or better 14 times between 1975 and 1996, and the school’s soccer stadium was named for Morrone in 1997.

”He was a UConn legend who touched the lives of so many,” UConn President Susan Herbst said.

His 1981 team defeated Alabama A&M 2-1 in overtime to win the national championship. He led the Huskies to 15 other NCAA Tournament berths, including the NCAA national semifinals in 1982 and 1983.

Current UConn coach Ray Reid said Morrone’s legacy will be felt far beyond Storrs.

”He was the first coach to do interregional travel.” Reid said. ”He was one of the first coaches to actively recruit and also have a fundraising organization. Coach Morrone laid the blueprint not only for soccer at UConn but as importantly for college soccer in the entire country.”

He was inducted into the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Hall of Fame in 2002.

Morrone is survived by two sons, a daughter, nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Visitation is Sept. 24 and 25 at the Tolland (Connecticut) Memorial Funeral Home. A campus funeral is set for Sept. 26 at St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel. UConn also is planning a remembrance Saturday at the team’s game against Rhode Island.