Saint Mary’s College - The Gaels defied expectations all year. To say that they had a magical season may be an understatement. For starters, Saint Mary’s was predicated to finish fifth in the seven team West Coast Conference preseason poll. They looked to be headed in that direction when they finished the month of September with a 1-3-4 overall record. However, this senior driven team showed plenty of resolve and heart. They never gave up! The Gaels steadily improved and came down to the last weekend of the season needing wins over Loyola Marymount and San Diego to claim their first ever West Coast Conference title. They came through in the clutch with a 1-0 victory over LMU and a 1-0 win over San Diego to claim the WCC title and the league’s automatic berth into the NCAA Tourney. Saint Mary’s then began an improbable up hill run that included wins on the road over CSU Bakersfield, UC Irvine, and Brown to advance to the Elite Eight where their season came to an end with a 2-0 loss to eventual national champion North Carolina. The Gaels were ranked by College Soccer News as the number twelve team in the country.
Head coach Adam Cooper stated, “I’m real proud of the boys for this entire season even early in the year when we struggled record wise, we started playing real well. The guys just kept plugging away and kept going and it was pretty special at the end”
The 2011 season forever raised the bar at Saint Mary’s and created memories that the coaches, the players, and the Gael Nation will always remember.
Rutgers - What a turnaround! After recording a total of only four wins in 2010 including one win in Big East Conference play, Rutgers was 10-7-4 overall in 2011 with a healthy 6-1-2 mark in conference play. The Scarlet Knights were awarded an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament and advanced past Colgate and Boston College before falling to UCLA in the Round of Sixteen. Rutgers was ranked as the number twenty-three team in the nation in the final NSCAA poll and as the number twenty team in the country in the season ending College Soccer News National poll.
Dan Donigan was named the NSCAA Northeast Region Coach of the Year and Dave Beck was named the NSCAA Northeast Region Assistant Coach of the Year. Freshman forward Juan Pablo Correa (6g, 5a) was named to the College Soccer News All-Freshman Team.
By a lot of measures, 2011 was a very special season for a program with a proud tradition.