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Top Assistant Coaches 2019 - Fifteen Who Are Difference Makers

Jaunary 9, 2020 - College Soccer News annually seeks to recognize assistant coaches across the country who are excelling at their work. The 2019 honorees include several familiar faces as well as a few new faces. In making these selections, we acknowledge up-front that some very deserving assistant coaches will not be included as is always the case when individuals are singled out for recogniation. It should be noted that our current selections take into consideration team success on the field of play in 2019 with additional weight given to consistent success over multilple seasons. 

There are many excellent assistant coaches in the collegiate ranks across the nation who have a positive impact on college soccer and player development. The very best are effective teachers, communcators, motivators, recruiters, and ambassadors for their respective programs. Some, but not necessarily all, aspire to become a head coach at some point. All seek to make a positive contribution in their current role. 

Assistant coaches recognized in past years by College Soccer News who are now head coaches include Kevin Grimes at California, Cameron Rast at Santa Clara, Bill Irwin formerly at Portlant, Robert McCourt at Monmouth, Bobby Muuss at Wake Forest, Mike Jacobs formerly at Evansville, Todd Yeagley at Indiana, Jesse Cormier at FGCU, Kelly Findley at Liberty, Erik Ronning at Colgate, Brian Wiese at Georgetown, Darren Powell formerly at Elon, Damon Rensing at Michigan State, Jamie Clark at Washington, Kevin Anderson at Columbia, Sean Phillips at UIC, Eric Pogue at Oakland, Ralph Polston formerly at Wofford, Scott Calabrese at UCF, Brad Ruzzo at Mercer, Andy Fleming at Xavier, Carlos Somoano at North Carolina, Ryan Anatol at Stony Brook, Johan Cedergren at Kentucky, Jared Embick at Akron, Chris Volk formerly at UC Irvine, Kylie Stannard at Yale, Mario Sanchez formerly at SIUE, Nick Carlin-Voight at Portland, John Murphy at Georgia Southern, Brian Maisonneuve at Ohio State, Brian Rowland at Temple, Brian Gill at Penn, Zach Samol at American, Johnny Torres at Creighton, Leonard Griffin at San Francisco. 

Matt Chulis

Virgnia 

Chulis has been a member of the coaching staff at Virginia for fifteen years and has served as the Associate Head Coach since 2010 under head coach George Gelnovatch. The Cavaliers have been in the NCAA Tournament field every year that Chulis has been a member of the coaching staff and have advanced to the College Cup five times including the 2019 season in which they were 21-2-1 overall and played in the national final. Chulis had an outstanding career as a player at Virginia from 1996 through 1998. He was a three-time All-America selection and was named the National Defender of the Year in 1998. Chulis holds a USSF "A" coaching license. 

Mike Casper

Georgetown

Casper joined the coaching staff at Georgetown under head coach Brian Wiese in 2019 after serving as an assistant coach at Northwestern in 2018 under Tim Lenahan. Prior to that he served as an assistant coach at Notre Dame under Bobby Clark for three seasons and was the head coach at Saint Francis (Pa.) from 2007 through 2014 where he had a 71-61-21 record. Casper played college soccer at UMBC during which time the Retrievers were 54-19-11. He has an A License from the United State Soccer Federation and an advanced regional diploma from the United Soccer Coaches.  Georgetown had a banner season in 2019 winning the program’s first ever national championship with a program best 20-1-3 record while claiming both the Big East Conference regular season and tournament titles.    

Jason Hotaling

UC Davis

Hotaling has been an assistant coach at UC Davis for a total of fifteen years under Aggie head coach Dwayne Shaffer and has served as the Associate Head Coach since 2014. Shaffer stated, “Jason has been on my staff for many years, working his way up from a volunteer assistant to associate head coach.” Hotaling has played a key role in developing several top-notch Aggie goalkeepers including most recently Willis Lapsley whose stellar career included being named the 2019 Big West Goalkeeper of the Year and a 2019 Scholar All-American. UC Davis had a banner season in 2019 in which they won the Big West Tournament Title and were awarded the number fourteen seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Aggies finished the season ranked among the top twenty-five teams in the country in both the United Soccer Coaches and College Soccer News Polls. Hataling played collegiate soccer at Santa Rosa Junior College and Chico State and has an Advanced national coaching license and a National goalkeeper license with the NSCAA. 

Paul Souders

UCF

Souders became a member of the Knights coaching staff under head coach Scott Calabrese in 2016 and was named Associate Head Coach in 2018. Prior to that he was an assistant coach at New Mexico for nine years including seven seasons as the Associate Head Coach under head coach Jeremy Fishbein. He was twice named the Far West Regional Assistant Coach of the Year while at New Mexico and was part of several very successful Lobo teams. Souders was an assistant coach at Dayton for three years before coming to New Mexico. Souders played collegiate soccer for Clemson. UCF was a program best 15-3-2 in 2019. The Knights claimed the American Athletic Conference regular season title and a berth in the NCAA Tourney for the second year in a row, they were awarded a number nine seed, and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. 

Phil Jones

Clemson

Jones has been a member of the coaching staff at Clemson under head coach Mike Noonan for ten seasons and has served in the capacity of Associate Head Coach since 2012. He serves as the primary recruiting coordinator and is involved in daily training sessions and scouting among other duties. He was an assistant coach at Brown University under Noonan in 2009. Jones played for Wigan Athletic Football Club, a Premier League team in England. He also played played college soccer for Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach where he began his coaching career as a graduate assistant coach. Jones has a UEFA B-License and a Premier Coaching Diploma. Clemson had an outstanding 2019 season with an 18-2-2 overall record. The Tigers were awarded the number two seed in the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the Elite Eight. 

John Mark Andrade

Providence

Andrade has been a member of the coaching staff at Providence for eleven seasons and served as the Associate Head Coach under head coach Craig Steward since the 2013 campaign. He was the head coach at Dean College for one year before joining the staff at Providence. Andrade was a four-year starter at Syracuse and an All-Big East and All-Northeast Region selection in 2000 and 2001. He has been actively involved in developing youth soccer at Bayside FC in East Providence and worked with the Rhode Island ODP. Providence has had a winning season in nine of the eleven seasons that Andrade has been on staff. The Friars were 16-7-0 in 2019 with a 6-3-0 mark in Big East Conference play. They were awarded a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2016 and defeated NJIT and Penn State to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. 

Jeff Rowland

Washington

Rowland has been a member of the coaching staff at Washington under head coach Jamie Clark since 2011 and has served as the Associate Head Coach since 2011. Rowland's resume includes serving as an assistant coach at Creighton in 2010 and as a volunteer assistant coach at Harvard under Clark in 2009. He played college soccer for New Mexico where he was a two-time All-America selection and a prolific goal scorer. As a senior in 2005, he was a vital ingredient in the Lobo team that advanced to the College Cup.  Rowland then played in the MLS for Real Lake and FC Dallas. Washington has earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament in nine of the eleven seasons that Rowland has been on staff including the 2013 and 2019 teams that advanced to the Elite Eight. The Huskies were 14-4-0 in 2019 and claimed the Pac-12 Conference title with an 8-2-0 mark in league play. 

Oige Kennedy

Stanford 

Kennedy has been a member of the coaching staff at Stanford under head coach Jeremy Gunn for five seasons and has served in the capacity of Associate Head Coach for three years. Before Stanford he was the head coach at Fort Lewis from 2009 through 2015 where he had a 102-37-9 overall record and secured two NSCAA Division II National Championships.  His playing experience includes four seasons at the professional level in Europe and several seasons for Ireland's youth national teams where we was a team captain.  Kennedy's main focus has been on developing the Cardinal goalkeepers and on the play on the defensive side of the ball.  Andrew Epstein (2016), Nico Corti (2017) and Andrew Thomas (2018 and 2019) are among the highly regarded Cardinal netminders Kennedy has mentored. Stanford had another stellar season in 2019 during which they were 14-3-5 overall and advanced to the College Cup for the fourth time in the past five seasons.

Scott Buete

Maryland 

Buete joined the coaching staff at Maryland in 2014 under head coach Sasho Cirovski.  He has utilized his experience as a player at Maryland and the knowledge gained during his tenure to date as a member of the coaching staff to help develop and mentor the Terp players. Buete is a former All-American and was a three-year captain at Maryland under Cirovski  from 2001 through 2003. The Terps have earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament during each of the years that he has been a member of the staff and won the National Championship in 2018. Maryland was 11-8-2 in 2019 and secured a double-digit win season for the twenty-sixth consecutive season.  

Ryan Hopkins

Virginia 

Hopkins joined the coaching staff at Virginia under head coach George Gelnovatch in 2018 after serving as an assistant at Denver for five seasons. Prior to that he was an assistant coach at Wisconsin for a single season, at Cal Poly for four season, and at Concordia University for four seasons.  Hopkins played college soccer at Concordia where he was a four-year starter in goal and twice named an NAIA All-American.  He holds a USSF A License and a USSF National Goalkeeping License. While at Denver Hopkins mentored and developed several top notch goalkeepers including Nick Gardner who was named the 2016 Summit League Goalkeeper of the Year. Colin Shutler, the starter in goal at Virginia for the past two seasons, was a 2019 First Team All-American with fifteen shutouts and a 0.53 goals against average. The Cavaliers had an outstanding 2019 season in which they were 21-2-1, won the ACC Championship, and advanced to the national championship match. 

David Janezic

St. John's 

Janezic joined the coaching staff at St. John's as an assistant coach under head coach Dr. Dave Masur in 2017. Prior to that he served for a year as an assistant coach at Fairleigh Dickinson under the guidance of head coach Seth Roland. His resume also includes serving as an assistant coach at NJIT for three seasons and as the head coach at Brookdale Community College in 2012. Janezic played college soccer at Monmouth from 1992 through 1996 were he was a team captain. He began his collegiate coaching career as an assistant coach at Monmouth in 1997. A relatively young St. John's squad had a very productive 2019 season during  which they were 14-5-1 overall, returned to the NCAA Tournament field for the first time since the 2013 season, were awarded the number sixteen seed, and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen.  

Steve Armas

Wake Forest

The 2019 season was Armas' fifth as a member of the coaching staff at Wake Forest under head coach Bobby Muuss.  He became an Associate Head Coach prior to the 2018 season.  Prior to that he was an assistant coach at Campbell from 2006 through 2009 and the head coach from 2010 through 2014. Armas also served as an assistant coach for Greensboro College and the Carolina Dynamo in the PDL.  He played college soccer at Maryland from 1996 through 1998 where he was a team captain. Armas has been part of a program at Wake Forest that leads the country in wins over the past five years with an 89-16-9 overall record.  The Demon Deacons were 16-5-2 in 2019, they were the number four seed in the NCAA Tournament, and advanced to the College Cup for the second time in the past five years. 

Jeff Negalha

NC State

Negalha joined the coaching staff at NC State as the Associate Head Coach in 2017 under head coach George Kiefer.  Negalha was an assistant coach under Kiefer at the University of South Florida from 2003 through 2005. He subsequently served as the top assistant coach at the University of North Carolina for nine seasons and was on the staff at Pittsburgh and Boston College before coming to Raleigh to work with Kiefer again. Negalha has served NC State well on the recruiting trail and has been a part of the resurgence of a program that in 2019 earned its third consecutive invite to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1985-1987. Over the past three years the Wolfpack have made their presence known in the ACC and on the national scene. 

Jason Osborne

Charlotte

 

Osborne completed his eighth season as a member of the Charlotte coaching staff and third as the Associate Head Coach and recruiting coordinator under head coach Kevin Langan in 2019. He is also active in youth soccer serving as the Boys' Director of Coaching for F.C. Carolina Alliance since 2009. Osborne also has been a member of North Carolina's Olympic Development Program coaching staff for multiple years.  He was the  Associate Head Coach at Gardner-Webb University from 2005 through 2008. Osborne played college soccer for Stetson University from 2001 through 2004 were he was an All-Atlantic Sun selection for four seasons. Charlotte was 12-4-4 in 2019 with a 4-0-3 mark in CUSA play. The 49ers have earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament seven out of the last eight seasons while sporting a healthy 98-38-24 overall record. 

Tommy McMenemy

Michigan 

McMenemy jointed the coaching staff at Michigan in 2012 under the direction of Wolverine head coach Chaka Daley. In 2018 he was promoted to Associate Head Coach. McMenemy serves as the recruiting coordinator at Michigan and is involved in all aspects of coaching including the organization and implementation of daily training sessions. Before coming to Michigan, McMenemy gained valuable experience as an assistant coach at Columbia University for six seasons.  He played collegiate soccer for Columbia where he was a two-time All-Ivy First Team selection and an All-American and team captain as a senior in 2003. Michigan had a double digit win season in 2019 for the third year in a row and earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive season. The Wolverines were award the number thirteen seed in the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. 

The 2019 Season - It Was A Season To Remember For These Programs

The 2019 season was a shining season for the sixteen programs identified. They may have greatly exceeded expectations, had more wins that ever before, accomplished something that will serve as a springboard for future seasons, or put together an impropable run. Regardless of the reason, it was a season that will be remembered, that will always be a source of pride and accomplishment for those involved, and that will have a positive impact on the program for years to come. 


Georgetown - National  Champions. This was the year that everything feel into place for the Hoyas. Accolades relating to the 2019 season have to begin with Georgetown.  No team in the country had a better, more complete, or historic season than the Hoyas who etched themselves in the history books when they secured the programs first national championship, had a program best 20-1-3 record, and won both the Big East Conference regular season and tournament titles.  

It was truly a total team effort for a very deep and talented Georgetown squad that averaged 2.42 goals per contest while allowing an average of only 0.58 goals per game.  This was a group with the big play ability, confidence, and mettle under pressure needed to prevail in the close contests throughout the year.

 Brian Wiese and his staff were honored as the Division I National Coaching Staff of the Year while senior back Dylan Nealis, junior midfielder Jacob Montes and forward Derek Dodson were named All-Americans.


Virginia - This team will go down as among the best in the tradition rich history of Virginia soccer. It makes no difference that the Cavaliers fell inches short of their goal of securing the programs eighth national championship and third under head coach George Gelnovatch when they were edged by Georgetown in a penalty kick shootout in the national final after the contest was tied 3-3 at the conclusion of 110 minutes of play.  By every measure, 2019 was an outstanding season for the Cavaliers who were 21-2-1, won the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division Championship and topped Syracuse 2-1, Wake Forest 1-0 and Clemson 3-1 to claim the ACC Tournament title for the first time since 2008. Virginia was awarded the number one seed in the NCAA Tournament and defeated Campbell 2-0, St. John's 3-0, SMU 3-2 and Wake Forest 2-1 to advance to the national final.

This was a balanced and tough Virginia team that averaged 1.92 goals per game while holding opponents to an average of only 0.54 goals per game. 

Sophomore forward Daryl Dike, junior midfielder Joe Bell, junior centerback Henry Kessler, and  redshirt junior goalkeeper Colin Shutler were All-America Team selections.  


UC Santa Barbara - This team reignited the excitement and the mystic that surrounded the vintage UCSB teams in the past but it wasn't easy.  What this group accomplished in 2019 was great for the program and one could argue for college soccer in general.  This is a proud program but one that had been absent from the NCAA Tournament field since 2015 and it was back in 2006 that the Gauchos won the national championship.  

UCSB looked to be a lock for an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament with a high RPI but after a disappointing and somewhat uninspired 2-0 loss to UC Davis in the Big West Tournament it was highly unlikely that the unseeded Gauchos would mount a sustained run in the NCAA Tournament. They faced a California team out of the Pac-12 in the first round that they lost to 3-0 early in the season and that they had not defeated since 2003. Should they get past the Golden Bears, up next on their dance card was a date on the road with a Saint Mary's team that was 16-1-0 and that had allowed a total of only eleven goals while placing forty-seven in the back of the net.  Anyone who was daring enough to look further down the road would see a contest with number six seed Indiana in Bloomington where the Hoosiers had a thirty-six match unbeaten streak.

The Gauchos under head coach Tim Voom Steeg proceeded to advance past California 3-1, demolish Saint Mary's 4-0 and shock Indiana with senior forward Will Baynham providing the game-winning goal in overtime to send UCSB to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2006. The Gauchos season then came to an end when they were edged by Wake Forest 1-0 to conclude an improbable but brilliant run to finish with a very solid 15-5-4 record that they will seek to build upon in 2020.

Senior Noah Billingsley was named the Big West Conference Defensive Player of the Year and senior Thibault Candia was honored as the Big West Conference Co-Midfielder of the Year.  Freshman midfielder Finn Ballard McBride was named the Big West Freshman of the Year and was named to the College Soccer News All-Freshman Team.  Billingsley was named an All-American by the United Soccer Coaches and by College Soccer News.


Wright State - Good things are happening at Wright State.  In 2018, Jake Slemker's first as the Raider head coach,  Wright State won the regular season Horizon League title but were one win short of earning the program's first ever berth in the NCAA Tournament when they were defeated 3-1 by UIC in the Horizon League Tournament final.  But that was not to be the case in 2019 when the Raiders advanced past Green Bay 1-0, Oakland 4-1 and Milwaukee in a contest that was determined by a penalty kick shootout to win the Horizon League Tournament and claim the program's first ever berth in the NCAA Tournament.  They then defeated Notre Dame 3-2 in South Bend to secure their first ever win in the NCAA Tournament before their season came to an end in the second round when they came out on the short end of a penalty kick shootout with Michigan after the contest was scoreless at the end of regulation and overtime.

Senior midfielder Deri Corfe (13g, 8a) was an All-Horizon League and All-North Region First Team selection. Senior midfielder Jackson Dietrich (6g, 7a) was a Second Team All-Horizon League and All-North Region honoree while senior midfielder stefan Rokvic was a Second Team All-Horizon League selection.

Slemker accurately summed the 2019 campaign up when he stated, "This team has made history and will forever be remembered."


NJIT - It was a year of firsts that forever raised the standard of excellene at NJIT. The Highlanders won the regular season ASUN title, the ASUN Conference Tournament, and earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament at the Division 1 level for the first time in the history of the program.  NJIT finished the season with a 10-5-4 mark that tied the school record for wins in a single season.  

Fernando Barboto was named the ASUN Coach of the Year and the NJIT coaching staff was named the Atlantic Region Coaching Staff of the Year by the United Soccer Coaches Association.  Redshirt junior forward Rene White (17g, 2a) was the unanimous ASUN Player of the Year. Freshman Samuel Reisgys was named the ASUN Goalkeeper of the Year and forward Alejandro Rabell (6g, 7a) was named the ASUN Freshman of the Year.  Senior midfielder Andrew Nino (1g, 8a) was also an All-Conference First Team selection.


Pittsburgh - It didn't take long for Jay Vidovich to turn the program around at Pitt. The Panthers returned to the NCAA Tournament field for the first time since the 1965 season earning an at-large berth after concluding regular season play with a resume that included signature wins over the likes of Boston College, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Duke and NC State. They then took another step forward under the guidance of Vidovich when they defeated Lehigh 2-0 to secure the program's first ever win in NCAA Tournament play. The Panthers concluded a banner season with a 10-8-2 overall record that provides another block in a solid foundation and springboard to build upon in the future.

Junior forward Edward Kizza (12, 4a), who had five game-winning goals, was an All-ACC First Team selection, freshman midfielder Veijko Petkovic and junior defender Sito Sena were named to the All-ACC Third Team and defender Arturo Ordonez and midfielder Valentin Noel joined Petkovic on the ACC All-Freshman Team.  


UC Davis - The third time proved to be a charm for the Aggies. UC Davis' season came to a heartbreaking end in 2017 and 2018 when they came out on the short end of a penalty kick shootout in the championship match of the Big West Conference Tournament but that was not the case in 2019. The Aggies won the Big West regular season title and defeated UC Santa Barbara 2-0 in the 2019 conference tournament final before a standing room only crowd at Aggies Soccer Field to punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008.

Senior Willis Lapsley was honored as the Big West Conference Goalkeeper of the Year and Dwayne Shaffer was named the Big West Conference Coach of the Year. Senior forward Adam Mickelson and junior defender Nabi Kibunguchy were also Big West Conference First Team selections. 

Lapsley summed up the significance of the 2019 season when he stated, "We look forward to seeing this program take the next step, and watch others build on what we created and accomplished this year."


UCF - Things just keep getting better at UCF. The Knights checked off a lot of the boxes on their to-do list in 2019.

They finished the year as the number ten team in the country in the United Soccer Coaches and College Soccer News Polls. They earned the number nine seed in the NCAA Tournament and topped Missouri State 1-0 to advance to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in the history of the program.  UCF finished the season with a 15-3-2 record to secure the highest single season win total in the programs' history at the Division I level and posted back-to-back thirteen win seasons for the first time.

Senior forward Cal Jennings (18g, 4a) was a consensus First Team All-American and was named the American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year for the second year in a row.  Junior midfielder Yoni Sorokin was named the AAC Midfielder of the Year for the second year in a row and Yannik Oetti the AAC Goalkeeper of the Year for the second year in a row. Scott Calabrese and his staff were named the AAC Coaching Staff of the Year. Freshman midfielder Gino Vivi was honored as the AAC Rookie of the Year and was named to the College Soccer News All-Freshman First Team. 

Calabrese accurately stated, "When you really look at the evolution of the program the last three years, it is incredible."


Clemson - The heart of a Tiger. This was a special Clemson team. The fact that they came out on the short end of a penalty kick shootout with Stanford in the Elite Eight does not diminish what this group accomplished. The Tigers rebounded from a 7-9-1 season in 2018 to an 18-2-2 season in 2019 during which they scored a total of seventy goals will allowing a total of only twenty-one. The 2018 team was better than their record indicated but they lacked that something special that they needed to prevail in the close contests. The 2019 team regained it and then some.

Clemson had signature wins over Notre Dame 4-2, Duke 3-1, Louisville 4-0, Syracuse 7-4, Boston College 3-1 and NC State 3-0.  Junior forward Robbie Robinson (18g, 9a) was named the ACC Offensive Player of the Year and a First Team All-American. Senior defender Malick Mbaye was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year and an All-American. Junior forward Kimarni Smith (13g, 5a) and freshman midfielder Philip Mayaka (2g, 8a) were also All-America Team selections.  

Clemson head coach Mike Noonan stated, "This team came together this year to be, and do, something uncommon. They were selfless like no other team I had."


Campbell - Nothing could be finer than to be in Buies Creek, North Carolina in 2019. Few teams in the country had a more productive season than Campbell.

The Camels secured their first regular season Big South Conference title since returning to the conference in 2011 with a perfect 8-0-0 record. They then won the Big South Tournament with convincing wins over Presbyterian 3-0 and High Point 4-1 to punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row. Campbell then extended their unbeaten streak to fifteen games with an impressive 3-1 win over James Madison on the road in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The win over JMU was Campbell's first in NCAA Tournament play at the Divison I level. They concluded what is arguably the best season to date in the history of the program with a 17-3-2 record when they were topped 2-0 by number one seed Virginia in Charlottesville. 

Dustin Fonder was named the Big South Coach of the Year and Fonder along with assistants Tom Pool, Alistair Moore and Ryan Hanson were honored by the United Soccer Coaches as the South Region Coaching Staff of the Year.  Junior forward Thibaut Jacquel (18g, 5a) was named the Big South Attacking Player of the Year and senior defender Gideon Betz was named the Big South Defensive Player of the Year. Back Moses Mensah was named the Big South Conference Freshman of the Year and was named to College Soccer News' 2019 All-Freshman Team.

An explosive Campbell attack found the back of the net a total of fifty-nine times during 2019 while a solid defense allowed a total of only seventeen goals. Fonder stated, "We defend as a group. We attack as a group and do everything together." 


Penn State - The Nittany Lions were near the top of the list of teams that significantly exceeded expectations in 2019 when they rebounded from a 2018 season in which they were 6-9-2 with a 3-3-2 record in Big Ten play to 12-4-3 overall in 2019 with a solid 6-1-1 mark and second place finish in conference play.

The grit that this team displayed as the season progressed first surfaced when they twice came from a goal down against a very good UCF team on the road to secure a 2-2 tie.  After opening the season with a disappointing 5-0 loss to Stanford at home, Penn State regrouped and was unbeaten in their next seven contests before losing to Indiana 3-1. They then rebounded from the loss to the Hoosiers to go 7-0-1 in their next eight contests before losing to Michigan in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament.

The Nittany Lions  were subsequently awarded an at-large berth and the number fifteen seed and returned to the NCAA Tourney field for the first time since 2014. Their season ended sooner than expected when they were upset by Providence in the NCAA Tournament  3-2 in overtime.  Regardless, chances are pretty good that Penn State will look back on the 2019 season as the beginning of something special.

Jeff Cook stated, "We tried to take that team-first mentality and create a situation where the team philosophy, if you will, came to life on the field." He succeeded in doing that much sooner than expected and the result bodes well for the future of the program.   

Senior Aaron Molloy (9g, 6a) was named  the Big Ten Midfielder of the Year and was named an All-American.  Redshirt junior defender Brandon Hackenberg and freshman forward Liam Butts (9g, 1a) were also named to the All-Big Ten First Team.  Butts was also named to College Soccer News' 2019 All-Freshman Team. Defender Jalen Watson and goalkeeper Kris Shakes joined Butts on the Big Ten All-Freshman Team. 


Missouri State - The Bears were a formidable group in 2019. They set a new program record for wins in a single season with an 18-1-1 overall record and became the first team in the history of the Missouri Valley Conference to go 10-0-0 in league play. They won seventeen straight contests before falling in a penalty kick shootout to Loyola Chicago in the championship match of the MVC Tournament after the contest was tied 1-1 at the end of regulation and overtime.

Missouri State was awarded an at-large berth and returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2009 season. The Bears then hosted their first ever NCAA Tournament game and claimed the programs first ever win in the NCAA Tournament when they topped Denver 1-0. A truly historical and magical season  then came to an end when they were edged by UCF in Orlando 2-1 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. 

After the loss to UCF, Head coach Jon Leamy stated, "What an incredible team to be a part of, especially with our four seniors (forward Matthew Bentley, midfielders Stuart Wilkin and Ian Jones and defender Ben Stroud) who have been so great for this program." Leamy added, "We gave everything we had tonight, just like we have all season and came up short, but that doesn't take away all the amazing things we accomplished this year."

The Bears were ranked by College Soccer News as the number eleven team in the country and its final season ending poll and as the number sixteen team in the nation in the final United Soccer Coaches poll.

Forwards Matthew Bentley and Josh Dolling and defender Kyle Hiebert were named All-Americans. Bentley was named the MVC Offensive Player of the Year, Hiebert was named the MVC Defensive Player of the Year and Michael Creek was named the MVC Goalkeeper of the Year.  Leamy, and assistants Michael Seabolt, Will Lukowski and Phil Woods were named the MVC as well as the West Region Coaching Staff of the Year.  


Iona - A gutsy Iona team under the guidance of head coach James Hamilton generated a lot of excitement when they put together a phenomenal run down the homestretch to earn the program's first ever invite to the NCAA Tournament. The number three seeded Gaels defeated number six seeded Rider 2-1, a team that they had lost to 2-1 in regular season play, in the first round of the MAAC Tournament. They then defeated number two seeded Quinnipiac 2-1 in the semifinals to advance to the MAAC title match to face number one seed Saint Peter's. The Peacocks had topped Iona 3-1 in regular season play despite having to play a man down for the entire second stanza.  Saint Peter's appeared to have the championship game under control with a 2-0 advantage with seventeen minutes remaining in regulation but the Gaels rallied and gained new life  behind goals from Mauro Bravo and Josh Plimpton to knot the contest at 2-2 to force overtime.  Bravo then secured a history making victory for Iona when he sent a left footed shot into the back of the frame out of a free kick with fifteen ticks remaining on the clock in the first overtime.  

Iona won the MAAC Conference title for the first time and the automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament that accompanies it. The Gael's magical ride then came to an end when they were defeated by Maryland in the NCAA Tournament.  Nonetheless, it was a stellar season for the Gaels who finished with a 14-6-1 overall record and their greatest single season win total since 2010.

Senior back Malcolm Moerno was named the MAAC Defensive Player of the Year.  Sophomore midfielder Mauro Bravo (11g, 6a) joined Moerno as an All-MAAC First Team selection.


Yale - The Bulldogs turned another corner in 2019. This is a program that has improved annually under the direction of head coach Kylie Stannard who completed has fifth season at Yale in 2019. Yale had a 13-3-2 overall record to record the most wins the program has had since the 1999 campaign. The Bulldogs claimed their first Ivy League title and berth in the NCAA Tournament since 2005. The success Yale enjoyed in  2019 bodes well for the future of the program and reflects the development of a winning culture and habits.   

Junior forward Mark Winhoffer (6g, 11a) was named the 2019 Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year. Sophomore midfielder Enzo Okpoye, senior midfielder Miguel Yuste and sophomore goalkeeper Elian Haddock joined Winhoffer as Al-Ivy League First Team members.  Stannard was named the Ivy League Coach of the Year.


Marshall - It was an exciting year of firsts for the Thundering Herd. The 2019 season was hands down the most successful season in the history of Marshall soccer. The Herd had a program best 16-3-3 overall record. They claimed their first Conference USA regular season and tournament titles, earned the programs first ever invite to the NCAA Tournament and  received a number eleven seed in the Tournament. They then advanced past West Virginia 2-1 to secure their first ever NCAA Tourney win before a standing room only crowd of 2,126 fans. Marshall was ranked as the number eleven team in the final season ending United Soccer Coaches Poll and the number twelve team in the season ending College Soccer News Poll.

Head coach Chris Grassie was named the Conference USA Coach of the year. Grassie and his assistants Petsa Ivanovic, Josh Faga and Brian Grassie were named the Southeast Coaching Staff of the Year by the United Soccer Coaches. Forward Milo Yosef was honored as the CUSA Offensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year. Yosef was also a United Soccer Coaches and College Soccer News All-America Team selection. Senior defender Illal Osmanu and Yosef were All-CUSA First Team selections.


Washington - This was an excellent Washington team with the right balance between offensive firepower and steady play on the defensive side of the ball that has been lacking at times in the past.

Blake Bodily (12, 6a), Lucas Meek (6g, 7a), Jaret Townsend (7g, 1a), Gio Miglietti (5g, 2a), Dylan Teves (1g, 8a) and Joey Parish (4g, 1a) were among those who added pop to a Husky attack that produced a total of forty-five goals while backs Ethan Bartlow (5g, 1a), Freddy Kleeman, Kasey French and Charlie Ostrem were part of a Washington defense that held opponents to a total of only fourteen goals and posted twelve clean sheets.  

Washington finished the season with a 17-4-0 record, winning the second-most contests in the history of the program. They secured their third Pac-12 Conference Title and first since 2013 with an 8-2-0 mark in league play.  Washington was awarded the number six seed in the NCAA Tournament and proved that they were worthy of it by defeating Boston College and Marshall to advance to the Elite Eight for just the second time in the history of the program. The Huskies season came to an end in the Elite Eight when they were edged 2-1 by eventual national champion Georgetown.  

Coach Jamie Clark stated, "This is a group that loved being with each other, a group we loved coaching, and we won't get a chance to do it again. I'm proud of what we've accomplished."

Clark was named the Pac-12 Coach of the Year and he and his staff consisting of Jeff Rowland, Richard Reece and Raphael  Cox were named the United Soccer Coaches Far West Coaching Staff of the Year. Junior midfielder Blake Bodily was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year and sophomore back Ethan Bartow was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.  Bodily and Bartow were named All-Americans by both the United Soccer Coaches and College Soccer News.   



Reflections on the 2019 NCAA Tournament

A look back and a few thoughts about the 2019 NCAA Tournament.


Georgetown secures its first ever national championship.

Championship contests, like the Super Bowl, often don’t live up to the hype surrounding them. Sunday’s College Soccer National Championship match in which Georgetown prevailed 7-6 in a penalty kick shootout with Virginia after the contest was tied 3-3 at the conclusion of regulation and two overtime periods lived up to the hype and then some.    

For starters, the Cavaliers and the Hoyas were ranked in the number one and two spots in both the United Soccer Coaches and College Soccer News regular season ending polls. Virginia was the number one seed in the NCAA Tournament and Georgetown the number three seed. Virginia won the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division regular season title and the ACC Tournament. Georgetown won both the Big East Conference regular season and tournament titles.  Both teams had explosive finishers, linkmen with get vision and touch on the ball, rock solid defenders with the ability to push forward out of the back to add an additional dimension to the offense, goalkeepers who were composed and talented shot stoppers, and veteran coaches who know what it takes to win at the highest level.

Both teams had the balance between offensive productivity and tenacity on the defensive side of the ball that yields the confidence as well as the trust on both sides of the ball among teammates that must exist in order to play an attack-oriented style of soccer that is both exciting to watch and play.  

A penalty kick shootout always seems like a harsh and inadequate way to decide a national champion particularly when both teams are as deserving of a national championship as Georgetown and Virginia. However, in this particular contest it seemed to be an appropriate, although abrupt and heartbreaking way to settle the contest, because both teams had given it their all for a full one-hundred and ten minutes of play leaving nothing on the field of play. Neither team packed the back or hunkered down in a defensive mode as time ran down hoping that a shootout might provide the best opportunity to prevail.  Had either team secured a two-goal advantage the tempo may have changed but that didn’t prove to be the case. This one was worthy of the talent that both teams have.  It was a run and gun game from the get-go with both teams taking it to their opponent. 

It was a great win for the Hoyas and a heartbreaker for the Cavaliers but the bottom line is that Georgetown (19-1-4) and Virginia (21-1-2) put forth an effort on the greatest stage in college soccer in a manner that reflected well on their institutions, college soccer, and the individual participants.

You have to go back to the 2012 College Cup semifinal in which Georgetown advanced past Maryland in a penalty kick shootout after the contest was tied at 4-4 after 110 minutes of play to find a game in the Final Four that was as fast paced and exciting as this one.


Seeding accuracy

The results on the field of play pretty much affirmed the seeding of the tournament selection committee. Only number twelve seed Saint Mary’s, number fourteen seed UC Davis and number fifteen seed Penn State were one and done in the tournament. Seven of the eight teams in the Elite Eight were top eight seeded teams and the number one, three and four seeds advanced to the Final Four along with number seven seed Stanford.


Penalty kick shootouts

In the one and done environment of the College Cup it seems at times that a lot of contests end up requiring a penalty kick shootout to determine who advances. That was not the case this year with only four of the games in the tournament going to a penalty kick shootout. Stanford vs. Seattle and Wright State vs. Michigan  were determined by a pk shootout in the second round, Stanford and Clemson in the Elite Eight, and Georgetown and Virginia in the national championship match.


West Coast vs. East Coast

In the west coast vs. east coast debate the teams on the west coast made their presence known in the tournament with Stanford, Washington and UC Santa Barbara playing their way into the Elite Eight and Stanford earning a spot in the College Cup (Final Four).  Stanford had wins over Seattle, Virginia Tech and Clemson. Washington topped Boston College and Marshall. UC Santa Barbara defeated California, Saint Mary’s and Indiana.


An unseeded team always makes an unexpected run in the NCAA Tournament.

In 2017 Fordham advanced to the Elite Eight via wins over St. Francis Brooklyn, number eleven seed Virginia and number six seed Duke.  In 2018 unseeded Akron and Michigan State advanced to the College Cup.  This year unseeded UC Santa Barbara rebounded from a loss in the Big West Tournament final to make a run in the NCAA Tournament to the Elite Eight. The Gauchos topped California 3-1, number twelve seed Saint Mary’s College 4-0 and Big Ten Champion and number five seed Indiana 1-0 before falling to Wake Forest 1-0 in the Elite Eight.  The Gauchos are back.


Playing at home is always considered an advantage.

Seeding in the NCAA Tournament is valued because the higher seeded team hosts games in the NCAA Tournament.  In the “more information that you might want to know” category – playing at home seems to be a greater advantage as the tournament progresses. 

Five of the teams that hosted one of the sixteen first round matches lost. Campbell defeated James Madison 2-0, Coastal Carolina defeated N.C. State 3-2, Wright State topped Notre Dame 3-2, West Virginia topped Butler 5-1 and Seattle defeated LMU 3-1.

In the second round thirteen of the sixteen seeds that hosted won and three lost.

In the Sweet Sixteen only one of the eight teams that hosted lost and in the Elite Eight only one of the four teams that hosted lost.


Atlantic Coast Conference

The Atlantic Coast Conference had ten teams in the forty-eight team NCAA Tournament Field. Eight of the ten teams won at least one game. Five ACC teams advanced to the Sweet Sixteen, three to the Elite Eight and two to the Final Four.


How accurate a measure is the RPI? 

Number one (RPI) Virginia advanced to the national championship contest, number two Georgetown won the national championship, number three SMU advanced to the Elite Eight, number four Clemson advanced to the Elite Eight, number five Wake Forest advanced to the College Cup, number six UCF advanced to the Sweet Sixteen, number seven Virginia Tech advanced to the Sweet Sixteen, number eight Washington advanced to the Elite Eight, number nine St. John’s advanced to the Sweet Sixteen, number ten Stanford advanced to the College Cup.


Biggest Surprises

Wright State’s 1-0 win over Notre Dame. West Virginia’s 5-1 win over Butler. Coastal Carolina’s 3-2 win over NC State, UC Santa Barbara’s 4-0 woodshedding of Saint Mary’s, UC Santa Barbara’s 1-0 win over Indiana, Georgetown’s 5-1 thumping of Louisville.


What a Difference A Year Makes 

Clemson – The Tigers rebounded from a 7-9-1 2018 season to a stellar 18-2-2 season in which they were awarded the number two seed in the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the Elite Eight.

UC Santa Barbara - The Gauchos improved from 10-6-2 season in 2018 and a three-year absence from the NCAA Tournament to a 15-5-4 record in 2019 in which they earned an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the Elite Eight.

Five of the teams that were in the Sweet Sixteen in 2018 (Akron, Michigan State, Lipscomb, Duke and Air Force) including two of the teams that advanced to the College Cup (Akron and Michigan State) were not in the NCAA Tournament Field in 2019.


Overtime

All three of SMU’s and Clemson contests in the NCAA Tourney went into overtime.

The Mustangs edged Coastal Carolina 1-0 in the 108th minute of play. They topped UCF 2-1 eighteen seconds into overtime and lost to Virginia 3-2 with Joe Bell converting the game-winner for the Cavaliers in the ninety-fifth minute of play.

The Tigers defeated Charlotte 2-1 with Grayson Berber providing the game-winner in the ninety-fourth minute and they advanced past Providence 2-1 when Robbie Robinson converted a penalty kick in the 105th minute of play.  Stanford advanced past Clemson 5-4 in a penalty kick shootout after the contest was tied 1-1 at the end of 110 minutes of play.


Hoyas Power

Georgetown scored a total of seventeen goals in five NCAA Tournament contests while allowing five. The Hoyas set a new program record for wins in a season with a 20-1-2 record that included a seventeen-game unbeaten streak.


Alternating Netminders

Its not often that a team is able to successfully split time between two goalkeepers and remain organized on the defensive side of the ball. Georgetown was the exception this year with sophomore Giannis Nikopolidis and freshman Tomas Romero alternating contests in goal.  Both started a total of twelve games. Nikopolidis allowed a total of six goals with a goals against average of 0.49. Romero allowed a total of eight goals with a goals against average of 0.64. They continued to rotate games in the NCAA Tournament with Romaro in goal in the contests with Pitt, Washington and Virginia and Nikopolidis in goal in the contests with Louisville and Stanford.  


Upward Movement In The Polls

Based on their run to the Elite Eight UC Santa Barbara moved from the number twenty-two spot to the number eight spot in both the College Soccer News and the United Soccer Coaches polls. Virginia Tech, Providence and Louisville who advanced to the Sweet Sixteen also rocketed upward.


Key Goals – There Were Many But Several Standout

Sophomore forward Grayson Barber's golden goal three minutes into overtime to give Clemson a 2-1 win over Charlotte in the second round of play.

Senior forward Will Bayham’s game-winning blast into the upper right corner of the goal in the 102nd minute of play to give UC Santa Barbara a 1-0 win over Indiana in Bloomington in the Sweet Sixteen.

Senior back Alistair Johnston’s move to create the space he needed to send a shot into the right corner of the frame in the forty-fourth minute that gave Wake Forest the edge they needed to secure a 1-0 win over UC Santa Barbara in the Elite Eight.  

Junior midfielder Jacob Montes goal out of a free kick from the top of the box in the seventy-second minute of play in the Elite Eight that gave Georgetown new life after trailing Washington by a goal for most of the contest.

Sophomore forward Daryl Dike’s goal into the side net in the nineteenth minute of play after running onto a long pass from freshman back Andreas Ueland that gave Virginia an early 1-0 advantage over Wake Forest and switched the momentum from the Deacon Deacons to the Cavaliers.

Sophomore midfielder Zach Riviere’s blast into the back of the frame from a few yards outside the center of the box in the fourth minute of play that gave Georgetown an early 1-0 lead over Stanford on a heavy rain-soaked field in the semifinals of the College Cup. The goal got Georgetown off to a great start and caused Stanford to have to chase the game.

Junior midfielder Paul Rothrock’s goal from close range in the sixteenth minute of play for Georgetown in the Championship Contest that evened the match with Virginia and kept Georgetown from having to chase the game after the Cavaliers had taken an early 1-0 lead with a goal from Joe Bell in the tenth minute of play.

Virginia sophomore forward Daryl Dike’s placement of the rebound of his own shot into the back of the frame with a little over nine minutes remaining in regulation to erase Georgetown’s 3-2 advantage and subsequently send the contest into overtime.


Kudos to the Folks at Cary

The conditions were less than ideal in the semifinals of the College Cup on Friday night due to the duration of the steady rainfall that resulted in standing water on places on the field. Nonetheless the grounds crew did a yeoman’s job of working to keep the field playable under the conditions.