Stonington's Tyler Fidrych commits to play for UConn men's soccer team

It was December. Tyler Fidrych had helped lead the Stonington High School boys' soccer team to an unbeaten season and a Class M state championship.

Fidrych, a senior who finished with 25 goals and 34 assists — Bears coach Paul deCastro called him the best player he's ever coached — earned state championship Most Valuable Player honors to go along with Class M all-state and All-New England honors.

And then he went to an Olympic Development Program interregional event at IMG Academy in Florida, representing the East. He found that a number of other players that week had committed to play at the Division I level. Fidrych was right there, excelling among them.

For perhaps the first time it stuck in his mind: why not give the Division I level a shot?

That's how the events of Friday came to pass. Fidrych made a verbal commitment to play next season for the UConn men's soccer team.

"It was kind of a complicated story," said Fidrych, who was able to announce his commitment to the Huskies on Senior Night for the Stonington boys' basketball team, of which he is a member.

"(Since December), it's kind of taken off. ... I mean, it hasn't really sunk in. It's kind of surreal. It's going to be hard. It's going to be a challenge. It's the highest level I can be playing at. I'm excited and thankful."

Fidrych admitted he had "a lot coming at me" in terms of recruiting during the high school soccer season.

The Bears finished 19-0-3, defeating top-seeded Ellington 1-0 in the Class M championship game at Dillon Stadium in Hartford on Nov. 23. It was Fidrych's soaring corner kick from the right side that teammate Wynn Hammond headed in for the game's only goal.

He finished with nine goals and three assists during Stonington's state tournament run.

"I just want to win every game I'm on the field for," said Fidrych, named The Day's 2019 All-Area Boys' Soccer Player of the Year. "This year was kind of my year (as a senior). I just tried to take it and run.

"... (In Florida), we played against the South region, the West region, I think the Southwest region and we went 2-1. We had players going to JMU (James Madison), UVA (Virginia), Delaware ... some big schools. It kind of opened my eyes. I started and played a lot. I got home from the tournament and I was very motivated. Maybe I could play at the Division I level."

Fidrych reached out to UConn, his dream school growing up. He has photographs of himself as a little boy attending games in Storrs and wearing a UConn jersey.

UConn ultimately said yes.

"I went for a visit," Fidrych said. "Just walking around and being in the athletic facilities, I felt like I was at an NFL combine. Whether I'm going to be a starter or not, it's too big to turn down. It's kind of a dream come true, let's see what happens and a why not kind of thing.

"I'm going to be challenged like I never thought I would be. It's going to take me places mentally and physically I never thought I'd get to. It's going to be interesting."

UConn returns to the Big East Conference, which boasts reigning national champion Georgetown, in 2020 after competing in the the American Athletic Conference.

v.fulkerson@theday.com

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