Margaret Tietjen Rodriguez, an assistant for the past 10 years, has been named the head coach of the UConn women’s soccer team, replacing long-time coach Len Tsantiris, who retired in November after 37 years.
Rodriguez, an All-American who graduated from UConn in 1999, is sixth on the all-time scoring list (128 points) and had 43 goals and 42 assists during her career. Her UConn teams made three NCAA quarterfinals and the NCAA championship game in 1997.
Rodriguez, who lives in Glastonbury with her husband and two daughters, was an associate head coach and served as the interim coach while UConn launched a national search for Tsantiris’ replacement. She was an assistant coach at the University of Hartford for four years before going to UConn.
She also played professionally in the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA) for three years for the San Diego Spirit and the New York Power.
“I am incredibly honored and humbled about this opportunity to represent a program and University that I care so deeply about,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “I want to first and foremost thank David Benedict, Beth Goetz and the entire search committee for giving me this opportunity. I would be remiss if I also didn’t thank Len Tsantiris because without his role in my career, playing and coaching, I would not be where I am today.”
Tsantiris said in a statement, “I’m very happy that the new coach is one of our own. She’s a great recruiter, a great person who connects well with the kids and she is respected by her colleagues. The only thing we are missing is a national championship and I believe that Mags is the one that can get the program back to the top.”
Rodriguez will have a tough act to follow: Tsantiris finished his career with 570 wins, second all-time in women’s soccer history, and became only the second coach to collect 500 wins.
UConn has advanced to the national championship four times, losing all four times to national powerhouse North Carolina (1984, 1990, 1997 and 2003) and has made it to the Final Four seven times. The Huskies also advanced to 31 NCAA tournaments, including 26 straight from 1982-2007.
In November, Tsantiris said, “I think this program deserves a national championship. I hope they’re going to get one. But winning a national championship is not the only thing; it’s most important they get a good education. You have a bunch of great young ladies in the workplace or in families. That’s the most important thing.”