CSN annually closes out the year with a tribute to those programs that had special seasons. The 2012 season was a shining season for the schools identified. It may be that they greatly exceeded expectations, or won more games than ever before, or accomplished something that will be a springboard for future seasons, or put together an improbable run. Regardless of the reason, it was a season that will be remembered, that will always bring a sense of pride and accomplishment to those involved, and that will have a positive impact on the program for years to come.
Indiana – When the Hoosiers were eliminated in the quarterfinal round of the Big Ten Tournament for the first time in the history of the program it looked like 2012 was going to be a less than stellar season for IU. Indiana was awarded the number sixteen seed in the NCAA tournament and with a match-up with number one seed Notre Dame in South Bend looming it looked like the Hoosiers were destined for a short stay in the tournament field. However that was not to be the case as IU topped a game Xavier squad 4-1 in the first round, upset the Irish 2-1 in overtime in the Sweet Sixteen and then topped defending National Champion North Carolina 1-0 in Chapel Hill in the Elite Eight to advance to the College Cup for the first time since the 2004 season. After the win over the Tar Heels third year IU head coach Todd Yeagley stated, “This group, I couldn’t be more happy for them. I am proud of our players and how they have stayed the course.” Yeagley added, “There is a lot of expectation with this program and these players are playing the best when the pressure is the greatest.” The Hoosiers continued to play their best soccer of the year topping Creighton 1-0 and Georgetown 1-0 to win the program’s eighth National Championship. Midfielder Nikita Kotlov (9g, 4a)netted the game-winning goal in the contest with Georgetown off an assist from forward Eriq Zavaleta (18g, 4a). Senior Luis Soffner recorded the shutout in goal behind a solid backline led by senior back Caleb Konstanski . Zavaleta was named a First Team All-American by College Soccer News. In the end it was a year that united the Indiana fan base and a season that Yeagley will clearly always hold in a special place.
Georgetown – It was nothing short of an historic season for the Blue and Grey who advanced to the national championship contest and finished the season with a 19-4-3 overall record. The 2012 team forever raised the bar of excellence at Georgetown by advancing further in the NCAA tournament and by recording more wins than any team in the history of the program. The team truly captured the imagination of the Georgetown community and what they accomplished will always be remembered as a special season. The Hoyas were awarded the number three seed in the NCAA tournament and subsequently topped Charlotte, Syracuse, and San Diego to advance to the College Cup for the first time in the history of the program. They then advanced past the University of Maryland in penalty kicks after the game was tied 4-4 at the end of regulation and overtime to earn the right to face Indiana in the National Championship match. Junior forward Steve Neumann contributed a hat trick in the win over the Terps. Although the Hoyas fell to Indiana 1-0 in the national championship match, it takes nothing away from the fact that the 2012 season will always be held in high regard and was a difference making campaign for the Hoyas program. At the conclusion of the championship contest head coach Brian Wiese stated, “I told the players in the locker room that we have the second place trophy. Today it’s one of the sourest things that you can look at, but I know that given some time it’s going to be something that we really treasure as a great accomplish for the program.” Forward Brandon Allen was named a First-Team All-Freshman selection by College Soccer News. Neumann was named a First Team All-American and Ian Christianson was named a Third Team All-American by CSN.
Creighton – The Bluejays entered the season with more questions than answers due to the loss of seven extremely talented players from the 2011 team that advanced to the College Cup. Creighton always fields a competitive team but all things considered the 2012 squad looked to be one that would have a short stay at best in the NCAA tournament. No doubt, this was a talented team but the fact is they had plenty of gaps to fill and that usually takes a toll on a team in the win loss column. Creighton in 2012 seemed to will their way to the College Cup playing with a determination that speaks volumes for the future of the program at Creighton under the direction of head coach Elmar Bolowich and the work performed by assistants Johnny Torres and Justin Hughes, and graduate manager Lyle Deremer. The Bluejays won the MVC tournament and earned a number twelve seed in the NCAA tournament. They then topped Washington at home before going on the road to advance past Akron in penalty kicks and Connecticut 1-0 to advance to the Final Four for the fifth time in the history of the program. The Jays then fell to Indiana 1-0 but you have to respect what Creighton accomplished in 2012. Senior midfielder Jose Gomez was named a First Team All-America selection and senior defender Andrew Ribeiro a Second Team All-America selection by CSN.
Maryland – The Terps were a fantastic 20-1-3 overall and returned to the College Cup for the first time since the 2008 season. Maryland displayed an attack and action oriented brand of soccer that produced a total of sixty-four goals while allowing only twenty-six. The Terps won both the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season and tournament titles and received the number two seed in the NCAA tournament. Junior forward Patrick Mullins (17g, 10a) was a consensus All-American selection and was named the ACC Offensive Player of the Year. Sasho Cirovski, who is a great ambassador for college soccer, was named the ACC Coach of the Year. Forward Schillo Tshuma (10g, 2a) and defender Mikey Ambrose were named First Team All-Freshman selections by College Soccer News. The Terps season ended when they were topped in penalty kicks by Georgetown in the semifinals of the College Cup in a match that was tied 4-4 at the end of regulation and overtime. After that match Cirovski stated, “This was in my view the greatest semifinal in the history of college soccer.” He added, “I love my team. I told them that. I love them even more after this game. They made not only me but all of the Terrapin Nation proud.”
Notre Dame – The Irish were 17-4-1 overall securing the most wins in a single season since the 1988 team had seventeen wins. They won the Big East Championship for the first time in the history of the program and were awarded the number one seed in the NCAA tournament for the first time in the history of the program. Notre Dame had a high powered and dynamic offense that produced a total of fifty-two goals. The Irish were led on the offensive side of the ball by senior All-American forward Ryan Finley (21g, 4a). Senior midfielder Dillon Powers was also named an All-American while midfielder Patrick Hodan was a College Soccer News All-Freshman Team selection. Notre Dame had regular season wins over the likes of Akron, Indiana, Georgetown, Marquette and Connecticut. The Irish topped Michigan State 3-0 in the NCAA tourney before falling to eventual national champion Indiana 2-1 in double overtime in the Sweet Sixteen. The 2012 season will go down in Notre Dame history as one of the programs finest.
Cornell – The Big Red had a banner season under the direction of fourth year head coach Jaro Zawislan. Cornell was 15-2-0 overall and was ranked as the number eighteen team in the country in the final College Soccer News Poll and as the number twenty team in the country in the season ending NSCAA Coaches Poll. Cornell won its first Ivy League Championship since the 1995 season and returned to the NCAA tournament field for the first time since the 1996 campaign. The fan support was fantastic and was a reflection of the success that the team enjoyed. When Cornell’s season came to an end after a 1-0 loss to Syracuse in the first round of the NCAA tournament, Zawislan summed things up when he stated, “As much as it is a great disappointment in the outcome of the game that we had today, for our players and our program and the university, we’re not going to let this game and this result define our season. This still has been a very successful season for the Cornell soccer program.” Forwards Tyler Regan and Daniel Haber, defender Patrick Slogic and goalkeeper Rick Pflasterer were First Team All-Ivy League selection. Haber led the country in goals per game (1.06) and points per game (2.53) and was a consensus All-America selection. The year before the 2012 senior class and Zawislan arrived in Ithaca the Big Red was 1-15-0.
Northeastern University – The 2012 season was clearly the most successful season to date in the history of the men’s soccer program. It was a year of firsts for the Huskies who finished the season with a 14-3-4 overall record establishing a school record for the most wins and the fewest losses in a single season. Under the direction of head coach Brian Ainscough, who was named the NSCAA South Atlantic Regional Coach of the Year, the Huskies won the programs first ever CAA tournament title and returned to the NCAA tournament field for the first time since the 2002 campaign. Northeastern defeated Boston College 1-0 in the first round of the NCAA tournament before falling to number four seed Connecticut 1-0 in the second round at Morrone Stadium. Senior forward Don Anding (14g, 7a) was named the CAA Player of the Year and became the first Husky in program history to be named an NSCAA All-American. Sophomore Simon Cox was named the CAA Co-Defensive Player of the Year and senior goalkeeper Oliver Blum, who finished the 2012 season with the lowest goals against average (0.56) of any Northeastern goalkeeper in program history, was the third Husky to be named a First Team All-CAA selection. Northeastern experienced a program best twelve match unbeaten streak and entered the national rankings for the first time. They also finished the 2012 season ranked as the number twenty-five team in the country in the final College Soccer News National Poll. By all measures it was an historic season for the Huskies and one that will likely pave the way for continued excellence in future seasons.
Cleveland State – The Vikings won the Horizon League title under the direction of head coach Ali Kazemaini and returned to the NCAA tournament field for the first time since the 1980 season. Kazemaini, who is in his seventh year as Cleveland State head coach, was named the Horizon League Coach of the Year and junior defender Cameron Eisses was named the Horizon League Defender of the Year. Forward Admir Suljevic and midfielder Aslinn Rodas were also named to the All-Horizon League First Team. Referring back to when he took over the reigns of the program in 2006 Kzemaini stated, “We were so far down, people had no confidence out there.” Referring to the accomplishments of the team in 2012 he stated, “Hopefully this will change people’s minds when they are coming here, they are not coming here as a second choice anymore, they are coming to a program that’s been successful.” Kzemaini likely summed up what the 2012 season means to the program when he stated, Hopefully it raises the expectations of what it takes to play for Cleveland State now. The players that are here can wear that jersey with a little more pride.”
San Diego – The Toreros won the West Coast Conference title for the first time since the 2009 campaign and electrified the college soccer world with a historic and seemingly improbable post season run in which they advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament before losing to Georgetown 3-1. It was San Diego’s longest stay in the NCAA tournament since the 1992 team finished as the national runner-up. San Diego’s run to the Elite Eight included on the road wins over CS Northridge, UCLA, and Tulsa. This is a team that showed a great deal of mettle coming from behind in each of their NCAA tournament victories. Seamus McFadden was named the WCC Coach of the Year for the eighth time. Senior midfielder Dan Delgado and senior forward Patrick Wilson were All-Far West First Team selections while junior defender Julian Ringhof was an All-Far West Third Team honoree. This is a team that continued to improve as the season progressed. After finishing the month of September with a 3-6-0 record they rebounded to go 11-3-0 for the remainder of the season to conclude a very successful 2012 campaign with a 14-9-0 overall record that included a 9-3-0 mark in conference play. The Toreros were ranked as the number ten team in the country in the season ending College Soccer News National Poll.
Marquette – The Golden Eagles took another big step upward in 2012 under the direction of seventh year head coach Louis Bennett whose efforts to develop Marquette into a force on the national scene as he previously did during a ten year stay at the helm of the program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee are clearly yielding tangible results. The Golden Eagles returned to the NCAA tournament in 2012 for the first time since the 1997 season and played their way into the top ten rankings moving as high as the number two spot at one point in the College Soccer News Top 30 National Poll. Marquette’s 16-4-1 overall record tied the school record for wins and earned the program a number seven seed in the NCAA tournament. Marquette topped Cincinnati in the first round of the Big East tournament and then defeated Louisville 2-1 on the road in the quarterfinals before losing 2-1 to Georgetown in double overtime in the Big East semifinals. Marquette’s season then came to a close when they were upset at home by Northwestern 1-0 in the NCAA tournament. Junior midfielder Bryan Ciesiulka, senior forward Andy Huftalin and freshman center back Axel Sjoberg were named to the All-Big East Second Team. Sjoberg was also named a College Soccer News First Team All-Freshman team selection. Redshirt Sophomore goalkeeper Charlie Lyon who had a 0.78 goals against average is among the many returning players on the 2012 team that look to build on the success that the 2012 team achieved.
Fairleigh Dickinson – What a season! The Knights started slowly then picked up momentum as the season progressed. FDU entered the NEC tournament as the number two seed then advanced past Monmouth in penalty kicks in the semifinals and Saint Francis in penalty kicks to win the NEC championship and punch their ticket to the NCAA tournament for the first time since the 2008 season. The Knights then upset St. John’s 1-0 at Belson Stadium with senior Antony Moore contributing the game winning goal and goalkeeper Jacob Lissek recording the shutout. Fairleigh Dickinson then topped number eight seeded Saint Louis 2-1 on the road with senior Jack McVey heading in the game winning goal in the second overtime period. The Knights then advanced to the Sweet Sixteen where they were edged by North Carolina 1-0 in overtime in a contest that easily could have gone either way. FDU was ranked by College Soccer News as the number seventeen team in the country in its season ending poll while the NSCAA had the Knights as the number twenty team in its season ending poll. Seth Roland stated, “What a great run we had this postseason. This group has restored our program back to greatness and national prominence.” He added, “I am really proud of this team.”
Syracuse – What a difference a year can make. The Orange recorded the nation’s best turnaround improving from a 3-12-2011 record in 2011 to a 14-6-1 record in 2012. Syracuse’s fourteen wins was the highest in program history since the 1986 squad had sixteen wins. The Orange were ranked as the number sixteen team in the country in the College Soccer News season ending poll and as the number seventeen team in the nation in the final NSCAA poll. Syracuse was part of the NCAA tournament field for only the second time in the history of the program and the first time since 1984. The Orange earned the program’s first wins in NCAA tournament play topping Cornell 1-0 and VCU 3-2 in overtime. Goalkeeper Alex Bono and midfielder Jordan Vale (9g, 3a) were named to the College Soccer News All Freshman Team. Syracuse head coach Ian McIntyre and assistants Jukka Masalin and Mike Miller were named the 2012 Big East Coaching Staff of the Year. Syracuse’s season came to an end in the Sweet Sixteen when they were topped by Georgetown in a match that required penalty kicks to determine who advanced. At the conclusion of the contest with Georgetown McIntyre stated, “I am extremely proud of our guys. They had a tremendous season. We’ll take some time to reflect on the campaign but today you saw the character and resolve of this group. They left everything on the field.” There is no doubt that the 2012 Syracuse team will long be remembered for what they accomplished and for the momentum that they have created for teams to follow.”
Niagara – The Purple Eagles had a program best 13-2-4 record with a 6-1-1 mark in MAAC play that included a program best twelve game winning streak. Niagara won the MAAC championship and earned a berth in the NCAA tournament for the first time in the forty-three year history of the program. In his second season as the Niagara head coach, Chase Brooks was named the 2012 NSCAA North Atlantic Region Coach of the Year. Senior Brett Petricek was named the MAAC Goalkeeper of the Year and senior midfielder Rene De Zorzi was name the MAAC Defensive Player of the Year. Reflecting upon the 2012 season Brooks stated, “This is definitely the direction this program needs to go. This season was a building block and a great step forward for the future.”
CS Northridge – The Matadors were 15-7-0 matching a school best for single season victories in Division I play. They won their first Big West tournament title topping Cal Poly 2-0 and UC Davis 1-0 to return to the NCAA tournament field for the first time since the 2005 season. Matador mentor Terry Davila was named the Big West Coach of the Year in 2012 for the sixth time, senior Joe Franco was named the Big West Defensive Player of the Year and senior Michael Abalos was named the Big West Goalkeeper of the Year.
Air Force – The Falcons finished the 2012 season with a 10-9-4 record and captured their first MPSF Conference championship after entering the tourney as the number three seed. Air Force topped New Mexico in a shootout in the championship contest to make their first appearance in the NCAA Tourney field since 1997. Doug Hill was named the MPSF Coach of the Year and senior midfielder Kevin Durr was named an MPSF First Team selection for the third straight season. Hill stated, “You hate to see any season come to an end but I’m so proud of what these guys have accomplished. I thank the seniors for their contributions and getting this program back on the wining side.”