Joe Morrone, Legendary UConn Soccer Coach, Dies; Led Huskies For 28 Seasons – Hartford Courant
Legendary UConn men’s soccer coach Joe Morrone has passed away. Morrone, who built the program into a national power and won a national championship in 1981, died Wednesday night at 79 due to complications from pancreatic cancer.
When Morrone retired from coaching in 1996 after 39 seasons at UConn and Middlebury he was one of only four college head coaches with at least 400 career victories.
In 1996, Morrone received the National Soccers Coaches Association of America Honor award and in 2002 he was inducted into the NSCAA Hall of Fame in 2002.
He had a record of 358-178-53 and made three national semifinal appearances in 28 seasons at UConn. The Huskies advanced to three straight semifinals from 1981-1983, winning the title in 1981. His career overall record was 422-199-64.
Joe Trager, played for Morrone at UConn from 1982-1985 and was a team captain.
“I don’t know if you can quanitify what he has done and I know if people realize what a huge figure he was,” Trager said. “He built soccer in Connecticut. He totally changed the rules and impacted college soccer [forever].
“He was just a person of the highest integrity and moral character. The rigors of his program galvanized friendships that have lasted for lifetimes. I never saw him fear an opponent or a team, and that’s how he seemed at the end,” Trager said. “He was looking life square in the eye. He wasn’t dwelling on [the end]. He was just so squared up with life.”
Morrone’s teams made 16 NCAA tournaments appearances were ranked in the top 16 14 times between 1975 and 1996. The Huskies also won three Big East Conference championships (1983, 1984 and 1989). He was honored four times as the New England coach of the year and twice as the Big East coach of the year in 1985 and 1988.
After retiring in 1996, Morrone was a tenured associate professor in the department of kinesiology, where he served as a coordinator of the coaching and administration concentration and the chairperson for the admissions to the kinesiology department. He retired from teaching in 2014 after 45 years.
Before arriving in Storrs, Morrone spent 11 years at Middlebury, where he 64-21-11 and made two NCAA tournament appearances. He started at Middlebury in 1958.
Morrone graduated from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 1958 and was named the school’s outstanding senior athlete starting for the soccer, hockey and lacrosse teams. He was an All-New England selection and team captain in soccer. Morrone later got a master’s degree from Worcester State in 1963. He also served in the United States National Guard.
Morrone was born on Oct. 20, 1935 and is survived by a daughter, two sons and several grandchildren. His wife, Elizabeth Ann, died in 2007.
Joe Morrone Jr., his oldest son, was a three-time soccer All American at UConn and won the Hermann Trophy in 1980 as the nation’s top player. Younger son, Bill, was a member of the national championship team and daughter Melissa Taintor was an All American at UConn in 1983.
On Sunday, Morrone attended his final game at the stadium which bears his name. The Huskies came from behind and scored two goals in the final 10 minutes to beat the University of California-Santa Barbara, 2-1. After the game, the players ran over to Morrone to shake his hand and celebrate.
Morrone sat in a wheelchair and watched the game in the rain.
“Coach has done so much for this place to be able to win this game [Sunday] with him here was really special,” UConn men’s soccer coach Ray Reid said Sunday.
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