Saturday, January 12, 2008
White crowns stunning season with Hermann
Maria Burns Ortiz
University of Connecticut forward O'Brian White may have won the M.A.C. Hermann trophy on Friday night, but the junior still has unfinished business when it comes to college soccer.
White, who announced last month his intentions to return to the Huskies for his senior year, has already shifted his focus toward what needs to be done to make his team even more successful in 2008. However, he did take a little time to reflect on his accomplishments this past season.
"It was a lot of hard work, but it paid off," he said, crediting his teammates' role in his success as well. "I was very happy [to receive the award]. I didn't know what was going to be, if they were going to call my name or what, so I just hoped for the best and I'm very excited about what came of it."
White did more than just hope for the best during the 2007 season. He gave it. The All-American led the nation in points (53) and goals (23) and helped lead the Huskies to a Big East championship and a spot in the Elite Eight. White was also named the Big East Offensive Player of the Year.
His season was one for the UConn record books. White's 23 goals are a single-season school record. His back-to-back hat tricks against Pittsburgh and Providence were a first in team history, and he became just the second UConn player to record more than one career three-goal outing -- finishing the season with a Husky single-season and career record three-hat tricks. White ranks eighth on the school's all-time points list with 101 and could easily finish his career in the top three. He is the third UConn men's player to receive the Hermann Trophy, following Joe Morrone (1980) and Chris Gbandi (2000).
"It's a great testament to our program to have him recognized," Huskies coach Ray Reid said of White. "Obviously, we feel special about him, but to get that from the other coaches in the country is a real tribute to this young man."
While White was hoping to get the award, Reid felt that his player had the award locked up for some time.
"Toward the end of the regular season, I knew he had to win the thing because he'd been so dominant this year," Reid said. "He's very athletic, very technical, very good in the box, has nose for the goal -- he's got the whole package."
White will be bringing those skills back with him to Storrs next fall. For the 22 year old, who was born in Jamaica and then moved to Ontario, Canada, in high school, coming back for his final season was never a question.
"My mom told me she wanted me to graduate," White said. "I can be one of the first people to graduate from family with a four-year degree. ... And I want to go to the Final Four."
His coach echoed that sentiment.
"He's not done," Reid said. "His priorities are to graduate, to win the national championship and to win the Hermann again."
Well-ordered and admirable goals that might just be achievable for White.Maria Burns Ortiz covers college soccer for ESPNsoccernet. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.