All of the teams listed accomplished something special in 2000. It might be that they achieved something their programs had never before accomplished. It might be that they significantly exceeded everyone’s preseason expectations. It might be that they put together a great run at the end of the season to claim a conference tournament title. As you will see, there is a great deal of variation in terms of what the teams listed below accomplished. However, the all had one thing in common. Each had a season to proudly remember and that will likely prove to be a source of inspiration for their programs in the future.
University of Connecticut - The National Champions have to be at the top of the list. Coach Ray Reid and his Huskies were College Soccer News’ preseason #1 selection and it was our view from the et-go that they had all the ingredients to win the 2000 National Championship. Talking about it and doing it are two different things. The Huskies did it. They bean the 2000 season with a loss at home to Wake Forest but ended it with a win over a talented Creighton team to win the National Championship. The Huskies could have lost their confidence when they were upset by Seton Hall in the Big East Conference Tournament but they did not. They traveled to Riggs Field to face Clemson in the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament. The Huskies had faced Clemson five times over the years and Clemson had won all five. Connecticut was down a goal with less than ten minutes left in regulation. However, they kept their composure and came back to win it in overtime. The Huskies ended the 2000 season with a 20-3-2 record and their first National Championship since the 1981 season. Chris Gbandi won the Hermann Trophy and teammates Bret Rahim and Darin Lewis joined him as All-America Team selections.
University of North Carolina - The coaches in the Atlantic Coast Conference selected the Tar Heels as the number four team in their Conference preseason poll. The Heels were ranked behind Duke, Virginia and Clemson. The 2000 season turned out to be arguably the best season ever for the men’s soccer program in Chapel Hill as they finished the season with a very impressive 21-3-0 record and also earned the number one seed in the NCAA Tournament. The twenty-one wins was a school record for wins during a season. The Tar Heels finished first in regular season Atlantic Coast Conference play with a 5-1-0 record. They then won the ACC Tournament for the first time since 1987 and reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament before losing to two-time defending national champion Indiana 1-0. Forward Chris Carrieri was named the 2000 ACC Player of the Year and was a consensus First Team All-America selection. Defender Danny Jackson was selected as a third team All-American. Tar Heel head coach Elmar Bolowich was named the NSCAA South Region Coach of the Year.
San Jose State University - The Spartans ended the 1999 season with an overall record of 7-11-2. What a difference a year can make. In 2000 they were the only team in the country that was undefeated going into the NCAA Tournament with an overall record of 20-0-1. The 2000 San Jose State win total set a school record for wins in a season breaking the old record of nineteen set by the 1978 team. The Spartans received an automatic berth to the big dance by winning the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championship defeating Cal State Fullerton in the League Tournament final. Although the Spartans lost to Indiana University 4-0 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and concluded the season with a record of 20-1-1 they had a great year and have to be on the list of teams in 2000 that exceeded preseason expectations. Coach Gary St. Clair was named NSCAA Regional Coach of the Year and three Spartans, goalkeeper Chris Humphreys, defender Ryan Suarez, and midfielder Jorge Martinez, who led the Spartans in goals scored, were named All-Americans.
University of Memphis - The Tigers wee picked to finish ninth or dead last in the Conference USA preseason coaches poll. Instead, Memphis went 5-3-0 in CUSA play finishing in fourth place. The fact that the Tigers established that they were capable of playing with anyone is reflected in the fact that all three of their conference losses went into overtime. In addition, the Tiger’s overall record of 14-6-0 during the 2000 season was their best record since 1992 when Memphis finished the season 14-3-2. Memphis head coach Richie Grant, who was in only his second yearas the Memphis mentor, was named the Conference USA Coach of the Year. Junior Sean Fraser, who led the Tigers in goals scored, was a First Team All-Conference selection. Juniors Justin Stralka and Stephen Lewis were named to the second team and junior forward Lars Thorstensen was a third team selection. Freshman goalkeeper Clark Talley, who started every match for Memphis in goal, was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman team. The Tigers’ season ended with a hard fought 3-2 loss to Saint Louis in a CUSA Tournament semi-final match but by all measures they exceeded preseason expectations having a very successful season and showing that they are a team to be taken very seriously in the future.
Boston College - The Eagles were 6-9-2 in 1999 including a 2-9-0 record and tenth place finish in the Big East Conference. They were ranked by the league’s twelve head coaches as the ninth place team in the 2000 Big East Conference Preseason poll. However, in 2000 Boston College finished the season with a 12-7-1 overall record that included a 7-3-1 record and third place finish in the Big East Conference regular season race. More importantly the Eagles won the Big East Conference Tournament Title in 2000 and earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1990. Although they lost to Rhode Island by a score of 3-0 during the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the 2000 Boston College team made a real statement, they significantly exceeded preseason expectations, and ended the season among the top twenty-five teams in the nation. Coach Ed Kelly was named the NSCAA New England Men’s Soccer Coach of the Year in 2000. Eagle goalkeeper Chris Hamblin was an All-America team selection and Casey Schmidt was named the Big East Offensive Player of the Year.
Appalachian State - ASU was ranked as the number five team in the 2000 Southern Conference Coaches Pre-Season Poll. They finished the 2000 season with an overall record of 12-6-1 that included a 6-2-0 mark in Southern Conference play. App. State ended regular season play in a tie for second in the conference with UNC Greensboro and Davidson. They defeated Georgia Southern 2-0 and Davidson 4-3 in overtime to advance to the Southern Conference Tournament final where they were defeated by Furman. ASU head coach Aiden Heaney shared Southern Conference Coach of the Year honors with Furman’s Doug Allison and Davidson’s Charlie Slagle. Jordy Broder was voted the 2000 Southern Conference Player of the Year. Appalachian State exceeded expectations in 2000 and took another big step forward toward establishing the tradition of excellence, work ethic, and winning tradition that Coach Aiden Heaney seeks to ingrain in the program.
University of Dayton - The Flyers were 14-4-2 overall during the 2000 season. They claimed the regular season Atlantic 10 title with an 8-1-1 record. Along the way Dayton established that they were the team to beat in the Atlantic 10 as they came up with big wins on the road against Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The Flyers hopes for an NCAA Tourney berth in 2000 did not materialize when they lost to a hot Rhode Island Ram team in the finals of the Conference Tournament. Regardless, the Flyers, who return eight starters next year, made a mark for themselves in 2000 by establishing a new school record for wins. Dayton head coach Dave Schureck was named the Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year and senior forward R.J. Kaszuba was named the Conference Player of the Year. And was an All-America Team selection.
Illinois-Chicago - In 1999 the Flames had a 17-3-0 overall record earning their first ever trip to the NCAA Tournament. In 1999 they also captured their first ever regular season Midwestern Collegiate Conference title and Conference tournament championship. So what could they do for an encore in 2000. Well for starters, they established a school record eighteen wins in route to an 18-4-2 overall record. They again won the regular season Midwestern Collegiate Conference title and Conference tournament championship. They were back in the NCAA Tournament where they advanced to the Sweet Sixteen before losing on the road to a very strong Stanford Cardinal team. The 2000 version of the Flames was a very talented team that advanced further in the NCAA Tournament than any team in the twenty year history of the Illinois-Chicago men’s soccer program. In 2000 the Flames, under Head Coach Sasha Begovic, received their first ever season ending national ranking. The College Soccer News Top 30 American College Soccer Poll ranked them as the number twenty-one team in the country in their season ending poll. Eric Lukin, who is the owner of the Illinois-Chicago record for career goals and assists, was named an All-American Team member in 1999 and again in 2000. The seven seniors on this years Illinois-Chicago soccer team, who have referred to themselves at times as the revolution, have definitely done just that as they have left their mark on the program and have taken it to a higher level.
Southern Methodist University - This Mustang team did something that none of the many very talented and successful SMU teams of the past have ever been able to do. They advanced to the Final Four of College Cup as it is now called. The Mustangs defeated a very good Stanford Cardinal team on the road to get to the College Cup. The emotion and excitement displayed by the SMU team and their fans at the conclusion of their win over Stanford was an experience that eight prior SMU teams who had made it to the Final Eight had never had the joy of experiencing. That win had to be a shining moment for the Mustang program. SMU had a school record twenty wins in 2000 on their way to an overall record of 20-4-0. The team goal was to reach the Final Four. The Mustangs returned ten starters in 2000 and expectations were high. However it remained to be seen if they would have the focus, intensity, and physical strength to make it to the Final Four. Accomplishing that goal will forever make this a team that Coach Scheilas Hyndman will remember. The 2000 squad was led by Carl Bussey, Diego Walsh, Luchi Gonzalez, and Mohamed Fahim. SMU’s success in 2000 was definitely a team effort and that effort took the program to a higher level than it has ever been before.
Indiana University - On the surface one might question the placement of the Indiana Hoosiers on this list. They had won the national championship in 1998 and 1999 yet struggled during the 2000 season finishing regular season play with a 13-6-0 record that included their first loss in the Big Ten Tournament in seven years. So what was so special about this 2000 Indiana University team. To begin with they entered the 2000 season with many believing that this team had little chance of making it to the Final Four. After they lost their last three games of the regular season to Stanford, California, and Ohio State, it looked like the Hoosiers’ stay in the NCAA Tournament would be very brief. However, that was not to be the case as they rose to the occasion establishing that they were indeed one of the most talented teams in the country in 2000. The Hoosiers won three very difficult pressure games on the road to reach the coveted Final Four for the fourth consecutive year. The road to the Final Four for Indiana included wins over previously undefeated San Jose State, a very tough Washington team, and the number one seeded and top ranked University of North Carolina Tar Heels. The Hoosiers lost to Creighton 2-1 in semifinal competition in a match that required three overtimes to determine a winner. If ever a team displayed the never, never, give up attitude it was this 2000 Indiana Hoosier team. No doubt about it, Indiana’s run during the 2000 NCAA Tourney was sensational and reflected the intensity and will to win that motivated this team. It was a season that Coach Jerry Yeagley and the 2000 Indiana team will always remember.
Indiana University-Purdue University (IUPUI) - The Jaguars from IUPUI made school history in 2000 earning their first ever NCAA Tournament berth. IUPUI finished the regular season with an overall record of 8-8-2. They entered the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament as the number four seed just barely making it into the Conference tournament. The Jaguars subsequently upset Western Illinois 1-0 and then Oakland 2-1 in triple overtime to capture the Mid-Continent Tournament Title. They then defeated Marist, the MAAC Tourney Champions, in an NCAA Play-In game to earn their first NCAA Tournament win. The Jaguars next traveled to Dallas, Texas to face SMU where they were topped 2-0 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. They ended the season with an overall record of 11-9-2. IUPUI head Coach Steve Franklin stated after the SMU loss: “Nobody predicted that we would be here. This was not just any other game. We are taking our baby steps since we have only been in the NCAA Division I arena for three years.” It was a great year for the Jaguars and actually a big step forward for Coach Franklin and the IUPUI program.
Marist - The Red Foxes finished the regular season with a 9-9-0 overall record. They were 5-4-0 in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) play. Marist defeated the Siena Saints on October 25 to clinch the final slot in the four team MAAC tournament field. Marist upset Loyola College in a semifinal match in the Conference Tournament and advanced to appear in their first ever MAAC Championship game. The Red Foxes then upset nationally ranked Fairfield University in the Championship game of the 2000 MAAC Tournament 3-2 in double overtime. Marist then advanced to face Indiana University-Purdue University in an NCAA Play-In game. The Red Foxes lost to IUPUI 1-0 in that game but it took three overtime periods before a winner was established. Marist ended the season with an overall record of 11-10-0. The Marist players and head coach Bobby Herodes fought hard and will be remembered as the first Marist team to capture the MAAC Conference Tournament.
University of Vermont - Despite the fact that the 2000 team returned eight starter from the 1999 team, the Catamounts were predicted to finish a dismal seventh in the America East preseason coaches poll. Instead Coach Roy Patten led Vermont to a 13-8-1 overall record and their first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 1990. The Catamounts secured a spot in the NCAA Tourney by winning the America East Conference tournament defeating Hofstra 2-1 in the final. They concluded regular season play in the America East Conference with a 6-2-1 record and a second place finish. Defender Mike Dias and keeper Chris Shaver were All-America East First Team selections while midfielder Tim Willard and forward Jamie Farrell were second team selections. Freshman defender Nick Azarian claimed the Conference’s Rookie of the Year award. Coach Patton was also named the America East Co-Coach of the Year for 2000.
Stony Brook - The 2000 season was the Seawolves second year in Division I play but they certainly made their mark. In 1999 Stony Brook finished the season with an unimpressive 4-13-1 record. What a difference a year can make! In 2000 the Seawolves immediately gave notice that they were a team to be taken seriously when they opened the season with a 1-0 win over a very good Boston College team from the Big East Conference. They then won five more in a row before losing to Oneonta State 2-0 on September 30. In their first five games they scored a total of ten goals while holding their opponents scoreless. IN fact they had a total of ten shutouts during the 2000 season and ended up ranked fourth in the nation in shutout percentage. The Seawolves completed the season with an overall record of 12-4-2 that included a 5-2-1 record in Atlantic Soccer Conference action. Stony Brook was ranked in the top twenty-five in several national polls and their twelve wins set a school record for the most wins in a season. Stony Brook head coach Scott Dean was named the Atlantic Soccer Conference Coach of the Year and the NSCAA selected him as a Regional Coach of the Year. The Seawolvles had their sights set on an NCAA Tournament berth but that didn't happen in 2000. Regardless it was a benchmark season for the Stongy Brook program as they took it to a higher level and very likely set the pace for years to come.