If you follow Women's College Soccer these days, Karen Ferguson is in her 20th year as the Head Coach at Louisville and the winningest in program history. But did you know she was a three time All American playing for Len Tsantiris at UConn ??
Growing up as an accomplished Irish Step Dancer on Long Island in Hollbrook, NY, Ferguson took up soccer and kind of liked it. Actually turning cart wheels on the field to fill the time. But when you want to play and have to play with the boys, as she put it in a Hartford Courant article in 1993, you "kind of have to be good or they throw you off the field." Well if national power North Carolina, Rutgers and UConn are looking at you to join their programs, you're pretty good. Ferguson chose Storrs and continued the "Long Island Pipeline" of UConn Women's Soccer players...And Karen Ferguson wouldn't disappoint.
As a freshman in 1990, in just their 6th game of the season, the Huskies ended powerhouse North Carolina's 108 game unbeaten streak with a 3-2 win in Storrs. Ferguson, who was recruited by Anson Dorrance, helped the defense stymie the likes of Mia Hamm and Kristine Lilly (a CT Native) . Dorrance was quoted in a Daily Campus article saying he wasn't surprised about Ferguson's play as he recruited her to come to UNC...The Young Huskies finished 15-8-1, but has a magical run through the NCAA's as they beat Hartford and Virginia to reach the Final Four...then beat Santa Clara 2-1 on PK's to advance to the final, where the Tar Heels got payback in the title game...Ferguson joining Co-Captain Beth Grecco on the All Tournament Team. And Ferguson also earned the first of her four NEWISA/All New England Team honors as the Huskies looked to build off the success of 1990.
The Huskies had success in 1991 and 1992, starting strong in both seasons (14-1 in 91' and 15-1-1 in 92') but the Huskies would falter down the stretch..in 1991, UConn would lose 4 of it's last 6, then in 1992, fall in their last four games, both ending in NCAA Tournament losses (Virginia in 91', UMass in 92') Ferguson suffered a serious ankle sprain in 1991, forcing to miss a game...the only game missed in four years with the Huskies. in both years, Ferguson not only named All New England, but All Northeast and an All American in both years....
Playing Sweeper and Midfield throughout her career, Ferguson suffered an MCL injury against BC on September 21st, but clearly had a high pain tolerance. As four days later played and helped the Huskies beat UC-Santa Barbara 1-0...Tsantiris moving Ferguson to the Sweeper position for the next month and a half...But as November arrived with the knee feeling better, she moved back to midfield to help the struggling offense as UConn played Hartford and defeated the Hawks 3-2 in Overtime. Ferguson suffered a 'charlie horse" and couldn't straighten out her left leg. But when you have a PT Major as a roommate, it helps and when the Big East Tournament began four days later, of course Ferguson was ready. Saying "it hurt but I just had to play through it..No reason to sit out." She responded with a goal in 3-0 Semifinal win over Villanova. In their first round, NCAA win over Dartmouth, she would score again in a 3-1 victory...Tsantiris saying Ferguson's "competitiveness is just unbelievable. Her desire to win is immeasurable." Not fast, but her quickness and skill set her apart...And in her Senior Year, capped a great UConn Career with a 4th All New England Selection and 3rd consecutive All Northeast and All American Honors. Finishing her career with 18 goals and 17 assists for 53 points and a 63-24-3 record as a Husky.
She'd spend two years as an assistant at Boston University before coming home to assist Len Tsantiris on UConn's Staff from 1997-1999 where the Huskies were the National Runner-up in 97' and quarterfinal berths in 1998 and 99....a 60-12-3 record...Since 2000, Ferguson has been the head coach at Louisville and had a 2-1-2 record against her mentor when the schools were conference rivals in the Big East and first year in the American.
Karen Ferguson-Dayes is married and has a son....Tough as nails as a Huskie and a UConn Legend