In many ways, the fall season will be business as usual for Jon-Luke Ferrandino. Having played competitive soccer since the age of four, Ferrandino will take his familiar center-midfielder position as soon as autumn is in the air.

There's just one big difference. Rather than donning the familiar New Canaan High School red and black, Ferrandino will trade those colors for Uconn blue and white as one of the newest members of the Huskies' soccer squad.

"The competition is a whole different level. Over the next year, I've got to work real hard getting my body in shape. The speed of play is a lot faster at the college level. The physicality is a lot tougher," Ferrandino said. "I'm going to have to gain the respect of my teammates and coaching staff and be tough right from the beginning."

Although he's undoubtedly excited for the new challenges at the collegiate level, Ferrandino brings with him a wealth of fond memories from his days as a key member of the New Canaan High School soccer team, not the least of which is a Class L State Tournament crown from 2010, Ferrandino's junior year.

Over three years as a varsity player, Ferrandino amassed 40 goals, 29 assists, was a two-time All-FCIAC recipient and made the All-State team as a senior.

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"I'd say the two biggest things were beating Norwalk two times in row in the FCIAC quarterfinals [as the tournament's No. 8 seed] and winning the State Championship," Ferrandino said. "Winning it all was great, especially after losing in the finals the year before. The whole team worked really hard, and as soon as we won it, it was basically chaos. We charged all our fans and it was just a great feeling."

New Canaan coach Victor Sanchez acknowledged that the Rams may not have been able to capture the State Championship had it not been for the play of Ferrandino.

"He played a huge role. If he wasn't scoring goals, he was creating assists, and the attack really started through him," Sanchez said. "He was involved in every play in one way or another. He was a big component in the championship run and we definitely couldn't have done it without him on the field."

Ferrandino is joining a UConn soccer squad which went 19-3-3 last year. Additionally, the UConn men's soccer team averages the highest attendance of any college soccer program in the country.

While Ferrandino gave varying amounts of consideration to other colleges, including Rutgers, Central Florida, St. John's and Fairfield, he had a relatively easy time narrowing the choice down to Uconn and Fairfield. As he continued to weigh his options, it became clear to Ferrandino that Uconn was the place to be.

"My dad went there, and I've always been a fan. My heart was really there," Ferrandino said. "I went up a few weeks ago, and the entire soccer team was very welcoming. Ray Reid is one of best coaches in D-I history, and the players treated me like I was already member of team. It was a great experience."

In addition to honing his own skills, Ferrandino often takes to the soccer field to instruct youth players in his spare time.

"I have a part-time job coaching and working with inner city kids [ages 6-12] in Stamford. I just always want to give back to the game," Ferrandino said. "The game can only take you so far, and it's important for kids in this country to appreciate game of soccer."

Ferrandino, who is planning on majoring in sports management at UConn, played some basketball growing up, but eventually, he believed he needed to focus his attention on soccer.

"I played basketball at the YMCA and then played my freshman year at New Canaan," Ferrandino said. "But soccer is a very demanding sport, so you have to be dedicated. So, I decided to concentrate on soccer after my freshman year."

For the time being, Ferrandino is enjoying his last few months at New Canaan High School and preparing for life at UConn, where his coach thinks his former star player will do just fine.

"He just has to keep up with the level of speed and obviously gain some more endurance and more strength," Sanchez said. "I don't think that he would have any problems adjusting to the D-I speed of the game. He's a very smart, quick player with great vision."

jchik@bcnnew.com