A look back at the 2022 season. It was a history making season for these programs. All Accomplished something special and will look back on the season with pride and a sense of accomplishment.
Syracuse – What an amazing turnaround. Syracuse entered the 2022 season unranked after finishing the 2021 season with a good but not spectacular 8-8-2 overall record during which they lost five ACC games by one goal with three of those contests decided in overtime. The key for the Orange in 2022 was to find a way to close out the close contests that eluded them in 2021.
What a difference a year can make. Syracuse consistently found a way to win the close contests in 2022 combining tenacious play on the defensive side of the ball with an opportunistic offense that gave the Orange the edge they needed to prevail. Syracuse won the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season and tournament titles, advanced to the College Cup for the second time in program history, and secured the program’s first national championship finishing 2022 with a 19-2-4 overall record. The 19 wins was a new single-season program record.
The first real indication that this was a special Syracuse team came when they opened ACC play with a 1-0 win at home over Notre Dame followed by a 2-1 come from behind win on the road over then number one ranked Clemson.
Syracuse head coach Ian McIntyre and assistants Jukka Masalin, Sean Lawlor and Michael Flynn, who were named the United Soccer Coaches 2022 Staff of the Year, added additional punch to the attack by bringing on board forwards Levonte Johnson (11g, 6a) and Nathan Opoku (11g, 8a) and midfielder Lorenzo Bosellin among others and effectively merged the newcomers in with a very talented group of returning players. The result was a unified and focused Syracuse team that had the talent and mentality needed in 2022 to win the close contests. The Orange defense anchored by Abdi Salim, Olu Oyegunie, Christian Curti, Noah Singleman and Buster Sjoberg and goalkeeper Russel Shealey was outstanding throughout the season.
2022 was truly a season to remember for Syracuse.
Creighton – The Bluejays improbable end of the season run was the stuff that dreams are made of.
It began when Creighton earned the sixth and final spot in the Big East Tournament despite closing out regular season play with a loss. The Bluejays concluded regular season play with a 6-4-6 overall record and 3-3-4 mark in conference play.
Winning the Big East Tournament and the automatic berth that goes with it was Creighton’s only path to a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Their chances of doing that were slim at the best as no team with a six seed or lower had ever won the Big East Tournament.
Creighton opened the Big East Tournament against number three seed Xavier. A team that the Bluejays lost to 3-1 during regular season play. Creighton took the first step in what was to be an amazing run when they upset Xavier 2-1 with forward Duncan McGuire netting the game-winning goal. They followed that up with an amazing 6-0 thumping of number two seed Seton Hall with McGuire contributing four goals. The Bluejays tied Seton Hall 1-1 when they two faced each other during regular season play.
It appeared likely that Creighton’s magical ride would come to an end when they faced number one seed Georgetown in the championship match but that was not to be the case. The Bluejays defeated the Hoyas 3-0 to secure their first ever Big East Tournament title and punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament.
Winning the conference tournament was a big accomplishment but this was a team that was just getting started. Creighton then topped Missouri State 2-1, number one seed Washington 3-1 on the road in what was the biggest upset of the 2022 NCAA Tournament, then topped number 15 seed Tulsa 2-1 on the road , and number 4 seed Duke 3-2 in Durham to earn a spot in the College Cup for the first time since 2012 and the first time under fourth year head coach Johnny Torres.
Creighton’s magical ride and totally improbable run finally ended when they were topped 3-2 by eventual national champion Syracuse 3-2 in the semifinals of the College Cup. The Orange scored what proved to be the game-winning goal in the 86th minute of play.
The Bluejays completed what turned out to be a very special season with a 13-5-6 overall record.
Junior forward Duncan McGuire, who ended the season with 23 goals was awarded the prestigious Hermann Trophy which is awarded annually to the National Player of the Year. McGuire joined Bluejay head coach Johnny Torres, the 1997 Herman Award winner, as the only two Creighton players to ever receive this award.
Kentucky – Kentucky was 15-1-5 overall, won both the Sun Belt Conference regular season and tournament titles, and was awarded the overall number one seed in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. The Wildcats 2022 season came to an earlier than expected end when they were upset 2-1 at home by Pittsburgh in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament. Nonetheless, it was a history making season for a Kentucky squad that remained the only undefeated team in NCAA Division I soccer up until the loss to Pitt.
The Wildcats under head coach Johan Cedergren were ranked as the number five team in the country in the 2022 College Soccer News season ending poll and as the number six team in the country in the United Soccer Coaches season ending poll.
UNCG – The 2022 UNCG team under head coach Chris Rich forever raised the standard of excellence for the Spartans. UNCG was 13-2-6 overall with a 9-0-2 record at home to secure the programs first undefeated season at home since since 2002.
The Spartans won both the Southern Conference regular season and conference titles and were awarded the number 12 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
They then advanced past Ohio State in a match that was determined by a penalty kick shootout and upset number 5 seed Stanford on the road again prevailing in a penalty kick shoot out after the contest was tied 1-1 at the end of 110 minutes of play to advance to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament for the first time. The Spartans historic and momentum building season subsequently came to an end in the Elite Eight before a record-setting crowd at UNCG Soccer Stadium when they were topped 2-0 by Indiana.
Indiana – Expectations are always high for tradition rich Indiana. Indiana always has its sights set on winning the Big Ten title and the national championship. The Hoosiers didn’t win the Big Ten Tournament losing in the championship match to Rutgers and they fell one win away from winning the national championship in 2022 and the 9th star that they hoped to secure.
What they did do was to put together a run in the NCAA Tournament that included a 1-0 win over Saint Louis, a 1-0 win over Marshall, and a 2-0 win over UNCG to advance to the College Cup for a record 22nd time. They then defeated Pittsburgh 2-0 in the semifinals of the College Cup to play for the national title for an amazing 17th time. Indiana was edged 7-6 in a penalty kick shootout by Syracuse in the national championship after the game was tied 2-2 at the end of 110 minutes of play.
The Tradition of Excellence continued at Indiana in 2022. Senior defender Daniel Munie who was named the Big Ten Defender of the Year, senior forward Herbert Endeley (4g, 6a), and redshirt senior Ryan Wittenbrink (10g, 9a) were selected in the 2023 MLS SuperDraft.
Western Michigan – A senior driven Western Michigan team under head coach Chad Wiseman made their presence known in the MAC and on the national scene in 2022 with a tenacious defense anchored in goal by Hunter Morse that held opponents to a total of only ten goals and a balanced attack powered by forwards Charlie Sharp (11g, 8a) and Dylan Sing (6g, 7a) and center back Daniel Nimick (8g, 1a) among others that produced a total of 43 goals.
The Broncos finished 2022 with a 16-3-2 overall record, defeated Akron to win the program’s second MAC championship, earned the program’s third invite to the NCAA Tournament, and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the second time in program history. It was a season to remember and momentum builder for a Western Michigan team that will play as an affiliate member of the Missouri Valley Conference in men’s soccer in 2023.
The Broncos were ranked as the number 14 team in the country in the College Soccer News 2022 season ending poll.
Pittsburgh – The Panthers took another step forward in 2022 when they advanced to College Cup for the second time in program history despite entering the season with several key gaps to fill on both sides of the ball due to departures. Pitt established that under head coach Jay Vidovich this is a program that has the culture, talent, mental toughness and resilience to sustain success.
Pitt was awarded a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the fourth consecutive year. The unseeded Panthers led by captain Jackson Walti and powered on the offensive side of the ball by Valentin Noel (11g, 3a), Bertin Jacquesson (8g, 5a) and Filip Mirkovic (3g, 12a) showed a ton of grit by playing their way into the College Cup with a 2-1 win at home over Akron followed by on the road wins over number sixteen seed Akron 3-0 and a come from behind 2-1 win over number one seed Kentucky and a 1-0 win at home over Portland.
The Panthers completed the 2022 season with a 12-5-5 overall record and a number four ranking in the College Soccer News 2022 season ending poll.
Cornell – The Big Red concluded the 2022 season with a 14-4-1 overall record and 5-1-1 mark and second place finish in Ivy League play. A senior led Cornell team returned to the NCAA Tournament field for the first time since 2012 earning an at-large berth and the number 14 seed. They ten topped Maryland 2-1 in a second round matchup to secure the program’s first win in the NCAA Tournament since 1977.
Cornell advanced to the third round where they faced number three seed Syracuse in a rematch with a Syracuse team that they had upset 2-1 when the two teams faced each other during regular season play. Cornell’s season came to an end in the third round in a closely contested contest when they were edged 1-0 by eventual national champion Syracuse. The 14 wins was the third most in a single season and one win shy of the school record.
Fifth year senior forward Emeka Eneli (4g, 7a) was a United Soccer Coaches All-American and a unanimous First Team All-Ivy selection. Senior defender Connor Drought and senior forward Brandon Morales were also named to the All-Ivy First Team. Freshman goalkeeper Ryan Friedberg was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Year.
Pennsylvania – Penn had a stellar season with a 13-3-2 overall record winning their first Ivy League title since 2013 with a 6-1-0 mark in conference play after being selected as the number five team in the eight member Ivy League preseason poll.
Penn earned the program’s 11th berth in the NCAA Tournament returning to the field for the first time since 2013. They also earned the right to host a first-round game for the first time since 2002. The Quakers defeated Big Ten Champion Rutgers 3-0 in the first round and advanced to the second round where their season came to an end when they were edged 2-1in overtime by eventual national champion Syracuse.
Penn’s thirteen wins was tied with the 2010, 1973 and 1971 teams as the second most wins in program history, one win away of the program record held by the 1974 team.
Sophomore forward Stas Korzeniowski (11g, 6a) was named the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year while sophomore defender Leo Burney was named the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year. Korzeniowski and Burney were the first sophomores to win a major Ivy League year-end award since 1993. Both were also named to the United Soccer Coaches and College Soccer News All-America Teams. Brian Gill was named Ivy League Coach of the Year.
This was a balanced Penn team whose eight shutouts were the most in a single season since the 2010 team had nine. The Quakers only allowed more than one goal, a 3-2 win over Cornell and a 3-2 loss to Harvard, in two games. Their 43 goals scored was the most since the 1973 team found the back of the net 56 times.
Senior forward Ben Stitz (11g, 8a) and senior goalkeeper Nick Christoffersen became Penn’s first MLS draftees since 2012.
UC Riverside – At first glace the Highlanders’ overall 8-8-4 and 5-2-2 mark in Big West play doesn’t seem very special but a deeper dive paints a much different picture.
The chance of a banner 2022 season at UC Riverside looked to be slim to none after the Highlanders concluded the month of September with a 1-6-2 overall record and 0-1-0 mark in conference play but they came together as a team in October going 5-1-2 in conference play that included a regular season ending 4-1 win over UC Santa Barbara to secure the program’s first ever regular season Big West Conference title.
The Highlanders, who were picked to finish fourth in the Big West Conference preseason poll, then defeated CSUN 4-1 in the semifinals of the Big West Conference Tournament and UC Santa Barbara 1-0 in the championship contest before a packed crowd at UC Riverside Soccer Stadium to secure the program’s second berth in the NCAA Tournament.
What indeed turned out to be a special season for the Highlanders came to an end when they were subsequently topped by Portland 2-1 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
UC Riverside head coach Tim Cupello pointed out the significance of the season and why it provided a solid foundation upon which to build when he stated, “These guys could’ve easily thrown in the towel after the first few weeks when the losses were coming, but they stuck with and believed in the process. We kept chopping wood and carrying water and believing what’s the next step and what are the lessons we could learn.”
Cupello was named the 2022 Big West Conference Coach of the Year and eight UCR players were named to the All-Big West Conference team including First Team selections junior Carlos Gonzalez who was named the Co-Goalkeeper of the Year, senior defender Brendan Clark, senior midfielder Leopoldo Hernandez, sophomore forward Noah Lopez and sophomore defender Aleksander Vukovic.
California Baptist University – It was an historic season of firsts for California Baptist.
The Lancers entered their first season of DI post season eligibility as the number five seed and the host of the 2022 Western Athletic Conference Tournament. They defeated number four seed Utah Valley 3-1 at CBU Soccer Stadium in the first round to advance to the semifinals against number one seed Air Force. The Lancers then shocked Air Force 2-0 in the semifinals to advance to the championship game where they faced San Jose State with a berth in the NCAA Tournament on the line.
CBU then took another huge step forward for the program when they topped San Jose State in a match that required penalty kicks to determine a winner after it was scoreless at the conclusion of 110 minutes of play to claim the WAC Championship and the conference’s automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.
A historic and milestone 2022 season came to an end for the Lancers when they were topped by UCLA on the road 2-1 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
CBU head coach Coe Michaelson pretty much summed up the significance of the 2022 season when he stated, “I’ve got nothing but pride for this group and what they’ve achieved.” He added, “The seniors should be so proud to help set a foundation at the DI level for this program going forward, and the returners walk out of here knowing we are capable of using this as a launchpad for next year.”
Junior defender Thomas Beecham and senior forward Bryan Iliohan (7g, 7a) were named to the 2022 All-WAC First Team.
Portland – You have to go back to the1995 season when the Pilots were 16-3-3 overall and advanced to the College Cup under legendary head coach Clive Charles to find a more productive season than the one that Portland had in 2022.
The Pilots were 15-3-3 overall with a 6-1-0 mark in West Coast Conference play in 2022 and advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time since back in 1995.
A team oriented Portland team under the direction of Nick Carlin-Voight found the back of the net a total 51 times averaging 2.43 goals per game while a Pilot defense anchored in goal by netminder and captain George Tasouris held opponents to an average of 0.90 goals per game while recording ten shutouts.
Portland was awarded an at-large berth in the 2022 NCAA Tournament and advanced past UC Riverside 2-1, Oregon State 2-0 and Western Michigan 1-0 before there season came to an end when they lost on the road to Pittsburgh 1-0 in overtime in the Elite Eight.
The Pilots completed a very successful 2022 season with the highest win total and win percentage since the 1995 season.
Midfielder Brandon Cambridge (12g, 4a) was named the West Coast Conference Offensive Player of the Year and a College Soccer News Third Team All-American. Tasouris was named the 2022 WCC Co-Goalkeeper of the Year. Midfielder Nick Fernandez and defender Delentz Pierre were among All-WCC First Team selections while defender Kevin Bonila was named to the All-WCC Second Team.
University of San Diego – The Toreros belong on the short list of teams that significantly exceeded expectations in 2022. San Diego was picked as the number seven team in the eight member 2022 West Coast Conference preseason poll.
Instead the Toreros went 6-0-1 in conference play to secure the program’s first WCC championship since 2015 and punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in eight years.
USD was undefeated in conference play for the second time in program history and the first time since 2000 outscoring WCC opponents 17-4. conference . A momentum building season at San Diego subsequently came to an end with an 8-5-3 overall record when the Toreros were edged 1-0 in overtime on by Denver in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Brian Quinn was named the 2022 WCC Coach of the Year. Junior back Trevor Dillon was tabbed the WCC Defender of the Year. Senior Jason Dubrovich was named the WCC Co-Goalkeeper of the Year and defender Simon Duus Mueller was named the WCC Freshman of the Year.
Lipscomb – The 2022 season was the best in program history for Lipscomb with accomplishments that provide a springboard for continued success and aspirations in conference play as well as on the national scene. Lipscomb was 14-3-2 overall in 2022 with a 7-1-0 mark during regular season conference play. The Bisons won both the ASUN regular season and conference tournament titles.
The 14 wins was the most wins in a single season in program history. Their number nine seed in the NCAA Tournament was the first time the program was awarded a seed in the NCAA Tournament. This was a balanced team that averaged 2.26 goals per game while holding opponents to an average of 0.74 goals per contest. The 14 goals Lipscomb allowed were the fewest ever in a single season and their nine shutouts was a single season best.
Their season came to an early than hoped for end that when they were defeated 1-0 by Western Michigan in the second round of the NCAA Tournament but that takes nothing away for the fact that 2022 was a season of significance for Lipscomb. The Bisons were ranked as the number 18 team in the country in the 2022 in the College Soccer News season ending poll and the number 22 team in the final United Soccer Coaches poll.
Senior forward Jelldrik Dallman (11g, 2a) was honored as the ASUN Player of the Year. Graduate Student Noah Gulden was named the ASUN Defender of the Year as well as a United Soccer Coaches and College Soccer News All-American. Senior Michael Sibley was the ASUN Goalkeeper of the Year and defender Nick Dang was the conference’s Freshman of the Year. Dang and forward Malachi Jones (7g, 3a) were named to the College Soccer News 2022 All-Freshman Team.
Picture from Syracuse University Athletics