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The University of Hartford men's soccer team has developed a buzz around 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 6,985 fans to Al-Marzook Field at Alumni Stadium, an average of 998 per game, which is 27th best in Division I men's soccer.
The Hawks drew more fans to their games in 2012 than any other team in the America East. UMBC checked-in at No. 31 in the NCAA rankings, attracting 938 fans per home game. With an average of 5,543 attending its home games, UC Santa Barbara led the entire nation.
Part of the reason for Hartford's high attendance numbers in 2012 was the support from the Red Army, a student fan group. Prior to every game, the Red Army met for a tailgate session before heading over to Al-Marzook Field to cheer on the Hawks.
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, put down the Blue Devils after scoring both goals of the evening, including the game-winner 147 seconds into the extra period.
The 1,504 spectators who packed themselves in to Alumni Stadium on that date proved to be a record-breaking crowd for the Hartford's men's soccer program. The previous attendance record was established in 2009 when 1,498 fans came out to support the Hawks as they took on Hartwick College on Sept. 19.
Boasting one of the youngest squads in the nation with the 26-man roster consisting of 12 freshmen and eight sophomores, the Hawks will look to make their return to the America East Championship title game and seek the program's first league crown and NCAA College Cup appearance since 1999.