Connecticut is well known for its fans devotion to college basketball, but apparently college soccer in the Nutmeg State is gaining some notice as well. The University of Connecticut finished the 2012 with the second highest average attendance in the nation, with 4,228 fans per game. That’s just behind UC Santa Barbara, which finished first for the sixth consecutive season, with an average of 5,543 fans per game. Now comes word that the University of Hartford men's soccer team has developed notice in the Greater Hartford soccer community, and it shows in the NCAA's final attendance rankings for the 2012 season. In their seven home games, the Hawks drew an average of 998 fans per game to Al-Marzook Field at Alumni Stadium, which ranked 27th best in Division I men's soccer. (Season total attendance was 6,985.)
The Hawks drew more fans to their games in 2012 than any other team in the America East. Part of the reason for Hartford's high attendance numbers in 2012 is attributed to support from the Red Army, a student fan group.
In 2011, the University of Hartford’s average game attendance did not reach the top 50 nationally. UConn was #4 in 2011, averaging 3,600. College sports historians will recall that UConn was #1 in 2000, 2002, and 2006, the last time any university has outpaced UC Santa Barbara in average game attendance.
Highlighting the Hawks' home slate was their 2012 debut at Alumni Stadium, a thrilling 2-1 overtime victory over neighboring rival Central Connecticut State University on Labor Day. Junior Anthony Santaga, who was later named to the America East All-Conference Second Team, scored both UH goals, including the game-winner 147 seconds into the extra period. The 1,504 spectators who packed themselves in to Alumni Stadium proved to be a record-breaking crowd for the Hartford's men's soccer program.
In case you’re wondering, Maryland (3,153) Akron (2,778) and Cal Poly (2,709) rounded out the top-five in average game attendance during the2012 season.