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The 2018 College Soccer Season - It Was A Season To Remember For These Programs

The 2018 season was a shining season for the 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. 



Maryland - The 2018 accolades have to begin with the Terps who rebounded from a 4-5-3 start to go 9-1-1 down the homestretch in an amazing run that concluded with the National Championship. Maryland's NCAA Tournament run included wins over NC State, Duke, Kentucky, Indiana and Akron during which time they found the back of the net eight times and didn't allow a single goal.  The National Title was Maryland's third under the direction of head coach Sasho Cirovski.  It was a total team effort for a unified group that was unstoppable once all the pieces fell into place.  Junior center back Donovan Pines was named an All-American by United Soccer Coaches and College Soccer News.  Senior midfielder Amar Sejdic joined Pines as First-Team All-Big Ten selection. Midfielder William James Herve was a College Soccer News First-Team All-Freshman Team selection. 


Akron - Unbroken.  This was supposed to be a rebuilding season for Akron.  The Zips could have settled for an average season after concluding regular season play with a 7-6-2 overall record and a disappointing 1-2-1 mark in MAC play.  Instead they rallied and topped SIUE, West Virginia, and Western Michigan to win the MAC Tournament and the program's twelfth consecutive berth in the NCAA Tournament.  Unseeded Akron then faced what appeared to be an impossible path to the College Cup. But they defied the odds by defeating Rider 3-1 at home and Syracuse 3-1, Wake Forest 1-0 , and Stanford 3-2 on the road to punch their ticket to the College Cup for the second consecutive year.  Akron then topped Michigan State 5-1 before being edged by Maryland 1-0 in the national championship match.  It was a season to remember for an Akron team that showed a ton of grit and talent by rebounding to win nine out of their last ten contests.   


Michigan State - A senior led Spartan team advanced to the College Cup with a brilliant run in the NCAA Tournament that included wins over UIC at home, number four seed Louisville and number thirteen seed Georgetown on the road, and James Madison at home.  It was the first time since the 1967 and 1968 seasons that Michigan State advanced to the College Cup.  The Spartans' season had ended in the Elite Eight three times in the prior five seasons but that was not to be the case in 2018.  Michigan State concluded a banner year with a 14-5-4 record which tied the program record for wins in a single season. The excitement in the program that this team generated will pay dividends for years to come. 


Kentucky - The 2018 team forever raised the standard of excellence at Kentucky.  The Wildcats concluded the season with a 19-2-1 overall record and advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time in the history of the program.  Kentucky had signature wins during regular season play over Louisville, Indiana, and Old Dominion.  They won the CUSA regular season and tournament titles and were ranked as the number one team in the country in the College Soccer News regular season ending poll.  Kentucky was awarded the number three seed in the NCAA Tournament and advanced past Portland 4-0 and Lipscomb 2-1 before their season came to an end in the Elite Eight when they were topped by eventual national champion Maryland 1-0. It was an outstanding and history making season which will serve as a building block for even greater seasons in the future. The Wildcats were ranked as the number five team in the country in both the United Soccer Coaches and College Soccer News Final 2018 Season Ending Polls.   


Saint Mary's - The Gaels deserve to be at the top of the short list of teams with historic 2018 seasons.  No team in the country exceeded preseason expectations or raised the bar of excellence for a program more in 2018 than Saint Mary's.  The Gaels have had successful seasons in the past including a run to the Elite Eight in 2011 but in 2018 Saint Mary's had their best season in program history with an 18-0-2 record, surpassing the previous win total for a single campaign by six wins.  Saint Mary's found the back of the net a total of fifty times while allowing a total of only eight goals.  They won the 2018 West Coast Conference title, returned to the NCAA Tournament field for the first time since 2011, and were awarded the number eight seed. The Gaels topped Oregon State 1-0  before being edged by Stanford in the Sweet Sixteen in a contest that was decided by a penalty kick shootout after in was scoreless after 110 minutes of play.  Forward Jake Rudel and goalkeeper Remi Prieur were United Soccer Coaches and College Soccer News All-America selections.  Saint Mary's was ranked as the number eight team in the country in the College Soccer News final season ending poll and the number nine team in the nation in the United Soccer Coaches Poll.  Gael head coach Adam Cooper and his assistants Josh Duffy and Charlie Campbell were honored by the United Soccer Coaches as the Division I Coaching Staff of the Year.   


James Madison - Paul Zazenski's first season as the head coach at JMU was a truly memorable one. Coming up with an encore may not be easy but that is a nice problem to have.  The Dukes swept both the CAA regular season and tournament titles, returned to the national rankings for the first time since the 2011 season, and earned the program's thirteenth invite to the NCAA Tournament. James Madison then took to the road to defeat High Point 3-0 in the first round of the tourney. They followed that up with an impressive 2-1 win over number five seeded North Carolina in Chapel Hill and a 3-0 win over number twelve seeded Virginia Tech in Blacksburg before being edged 1-0 by Michigan State in East Lansing in the Elite Eight.  The trip to the Elite Eight was JMU's first since 1995. The Dukes finished a truly outstanding season with a 15-5-3 record, recording the most wins in a single season since 2004. The Dukes were ranked by College Soccer News as the number nine team in the nation and by the United Soccer Coaches as the number ten team in their final season ending polls.  Zazenski and his staff of Adam Perron, Nicholas Melville and Joe Warren were named the Atlantic Region Coaching Staff of the Year by the United Soccer Coaches. Junior midfielder Manuel Ferriol was a First Team All-Atlantic Region selection and graduate student midfielder Yannick Franz was an All-Atlantic Region Second Team honoree.  Redshirt sophomore TJ Bush anchored a tenacious JMU defense that posted thirteen shutouts. 


Air Force - The Falcons recorded a program best seventeen wins in 2018 topping the previous high held by the 1993 squad. Air Force won the Western Athletic Conference regular season title for the second season in a row, they were a perfect 10-0-0 at home, and secured back-to-back invites to the NCAA Tournament. The Falcons topped Central Arkansas 4-0 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and upset number nine seed Denver on the road to advance to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 1993.  Their season came to an end in the Sweet Sixteen when they were defeated by number two seeded Indiana 2-0 in Bloomington. Air Force head coach Doug Hill summed it all up when he stated, "I'll be remembering this season for a long time."  Hill and his staff of Chris Foster, Hank Lewis and Tyler Amerman were named the Far West Region Coaching Staff of the Year by the United Soccer Coaches. Senior co-captains forward Austin Dewing and midfielder Tucker Bone were College Soccer News and United Soccer Coaches All-America selections. The 2018 senior class finished their tenure at Air Force with the most career wins (52) of any Air Force class in program history. The seniors clearly raised the bar of excellence and left their mark on the program.     


West Virginia - The Mountaineers secured the program's first Mid-American Conference regular season title in 2018 with a perfect 5-0-0 mark in league play.  They were 14-7-0 overall recording the most wins in a single season since back in 2007. West Virginia returned to the NCAA Tournament field for the thirteenth time and the first time since the 2011 season. The Mountaineers topped LIU Brooklyn 4-2 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in a contest in which they came from two goals down. Their season subsequently came to an end when they were edged 1-0 by thirteenth seeded Georgetown 1-0 in the second round.  The 2018 season created a solid foundation which should serve as a stepping stone for even greater success in the future. Senior midfielder Joey Piatczyc, who finished a stellar career in Morgantown with thirty-five carrer assists and twelve goals, was honored by both the United Soccer Coaches and College Soccer News as an All-American and was named the Mid-American Conference Player of the Year.  Sophomore goalkeeper Steven Tekesky was named to the All-MAC First Team. Marlon LeBlanc was honored as the MAC Coach of the Year.  


Lipscomb - It was a gutsy "never say never" year for Lipscomb. The Bisons rebounded from a 1-7-0 start to finish the season with a 10-10-1 recored that included a national ranking and the program's first ever run to the Sweet Sixteen. Lipscomb punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournamnet by winning the ASUN Tournament for the second year in a row.  The Bisons then took to the road and advanced past Washington in a contest that was decided by a penatly kick shootout and fourteen seeded UCF 1-0 before what was truly a storybook season came to an end when they were edged by number three seed Kentucky 2-1. Redsirt senior forward Logan Paynter, a four-time All-ASUN First Team selection, was a 2018 College Soccer News All-American. The 2018 team made a statement that will fuel the continued success of the program. It was a speciall season that head coach Charles Morrow and his staff, the Lipscomb players, and the Lipscomb community will remember with a great deal of pride.  


UC Irvine - The 2018 season signaled that good things are in the works at UC Irvine under the direction of second-year head coach Yossi Raz. The Anteaters won the Big West Conference regular season title for the first time since 2013 with an impressive 5-1-1 mark in league play and returned to the NCAA Tournament field for the first time since 2014. The Anteaters then advanced past Grand Canyon in a contest that went to a penatly kick shootout before falling to west coast powerhouse Stanford 2-0 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to conclude a very successful season with a 11-7-4 overall record. Ivan Canales was named the Big West Offensive Player of the Year and was named a Third-Team All-American by College Soccer News. Daniel Crisostomo was honered as the Big West Midfielder of the Year while Raz was named the Big West Coach of the Year to become the first Anteater to claim that honor since George Kuntz did so in 2008.  UC Irvine will miss the services of a solid senior class that included the likes of Canales and Crisostomo and defender Darren Hamilton but the addition of a very talented 2019 recruiting class bodes well for continued success. 


Oregon State - It is highly likely that Oregon State will look back on the 2018 season as the beginning of a significant turnaround for the program. Under the direction of first year head coach Terry Boss, the Beavers recorded the highest win total in Pac-12 play since the 2003 season with a 6-3-1 mark in league play. Oregon State punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament for just the fourth time in the history of the program and the first time since the 2014 season.  The Beavers then advanced past SMU 2-1 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to Saint Mary's 1-0 in the second round to finish the season with a solid 11-6-3 overall record.  Boss was honored as the Pac-12 Coach of the Year, midfielder Sofiane Djeffal was named the 2018 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, and senior forward Don Tchilao was a Pac-12 First Team selection. The Terry Boss era at Oregon State got off to a great start in 2018.  


High Point - The 2018 season will be remembered as the first in which HPU earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament.  It was a histroy making season for the Panthers who broke into the national rankings while earning their second consecutive Big South regular season championship with a 7-0-1 mark in league play.  High Point finished the season with a 13-3-2 overall record that included a signature 1-0 win over Duke University on the road.  Head coach EJ O'Keeffe and assistants Josh Gillon, Travis Morris, and Erik Casterline were honored as the South Region Staff of the Year.  Senior defender Johnny Fenwick was a United Soccer Coaches and College Soccer News All-America selection.  Fenwick accurately summed the significance of the 2018 season up when he stated, "Everyone involved has worked so hard to leave the program in a better place than we found it, and because of that the future looks very promising for HPU men's soccer."


Grand Canyon - It was a history making season for the Lopes who claimed the WAC tournament title, secured the program's first ever NCAA tournament bid, and closed out the season on a seven-game unbeaten streak.  After not securing a victory over a top-25 opponent in their first five Division I seasons, the Lopes secured a spot on the college soccer map in 2018 when they surprised everyone with season opening wins over nationally ranked Wisconsin and Creighton and signature wins later in the season over Seattle and Air Force twice.  Coach Schellas Hyndman summed up the significance of the season when he stated, "It's historic. It just goes to show that if you keep working at it and you give it time, you can really turn a program. The future of GCU, this is the the start."  Hyndman added, "We'll make history and it'll be easier moving forward because people will want to be here."



 

Five College Players Who Will Be Looking To Make An Immediate Impact In The MLS - by Dela Agbotse

A high selection in the MLS Draft doesn't necessarily mean that an individual will make an immediate impact in MLS.  Don't be surprised if most of the early first round selections don't start right away.  However, that is not to say that they won't be expected to make an immediate contribution to their team.  There is a big difference between contributing and actually cementing oneself in a starting role. The five players listed below have a good chance of accomplishing the later in their rookie seasons.



Siad Haji - VCU - Haji is without a doubt the most skillful player in the draft this year.  If the scouting reports on him are to be believed, the playmaker out of VCU under head coach Dave Giffard is ready to contribute immediately either through the middle of the park or out wide.  It is still an open question where the Generation adidas signee is going to end up.  Regardless, his natural talent should allow him to fit nicely into any team in the MLS.

 

 


Frankie Amaya - UCLA - The freshman First Team All-Pac-12 selection and Generation adidas signee out of UCLA has developed into an excellent center midfielder.  Whether as an attacking midfielder or a holding midfielder,  Amaya should be an effective linkman once he returns pro. He is particularly adept at making intelligent forward passes and is quick with his touches in tight space.  Look for him to continue to develop other aspects of his game in the MLS.  However, he is fundamentally sound and very capable in all areas as a midfielder.  Amaya's experience with the U.S. youth national teams, most recently helping the U-20 National Team qualify for the World Cup,  has helped to prepare him to be an instant contributor in the professional ranks.

 


JJ Williams - Kentucky - The Wildcat forward,  who was one of the three finalists for the MAC Hermann Trophy and a consensus First-Team All-American,  played a key role in Kentucky's historic  2018 season during which they advanced to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament.  The 6'2" striker is a powerful player with excellent strength, quickness, and touch on the ball.  Those factors combine to give Williams the mobility that is a threat for any defender.   Williams' offensive skills are immense but they are still under development.  Regardless he offers great value physically which should enable him to make an immediate contribution at the next level.   

 

 


Callum Montgomery - Charlotte - The 49er All-American and 2018 CUSA Defensive Player of the Year is an elite talent as a defender that is worth getting excited about.  The physical rigors at the professional level may pose a challenge for Montgomery, but he's solid enough with a 6'2" frame to match up against MLS strikers.  Montgomery was a four-year starter at Charlotte under head coach Kevin Langan.  His work ethic, ability to read the game, and leadership skills should enable Montgomery to offer some vital minutes for his team going into the MLS. 

 

 


Anderson Asiedu - UCLA - Asiedu's competitiveness in the middle of the park is among the key reasons that the 5'6" midfielder should make an immediate impact at the next level.  HIs physicality is complemented by his high soccer IQ and effectiveness on the ball.  Asiedu is a disrupter in the midfield and effective linkman between the defense and offense.  His effectiveness as a finisher is far from complete but his positioning, strength, and passing ability is impressive for a young holding midfielder. Scouting reports compare Asiedu to Diego Chara of Portland who has a similar style of play and stature.  

 

 



Dela Agbotse is a contributing writer for College Soccer News.  He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

 

2019 MLS SuperDraft Top 25 Prospects

Draft season is upon us! With College Cup and MLS Cup having both concluded, it’s officially time to start thinking about the MLS SuperDraft. 

The top prospects will convene in Orlando for the MLS Combine, January 3-9, leading up to the MLS SuperDraft on Jan 11. The initial list of seniors for the MLS Combine has been released, with the group of Generation Adidas signings (underclassmen), yet to be announced by MLS. Subject to change with GA and Homegrown signings pending, here is the first ​College Soccer News projection of the selections.  

Prospect Big Board for the 2019 MLS SuperDraft.  ** Indicates potential Generation Adidas signee. 



1.​Frankie Amaya​**(UCLA) - If the U.S U-20 midfielder is offered a GA, he’ll be arguably the top attacking prospect in this draft. For an MLS team, that wants a young playmaker to develop, Amaya is the pick.


2. ​Andre Shinyashiki​ (Denver) - The nation’s leader scorer with twenty-eight goals, Shinyashiki, is as an intriguing of a prospect as there is in this draft. The MAC Hermann Trophy finalist, is a playmaking forward, who can create goal scoring chances on his own. There are questions as to what position Shinyashiki projects to in MLS, but regardless expect him to be one of the top players taken off the board. 


3. ​Tajon Buchanan​** (Syracuse) - The Canadian born winger is a pacey playmaker with the intangibles to succeed in this league. Buchanan has a high upside and will likely be a top pick if offered a GA deal. 


4. ​Mo Kamara​** (UCLA) - Kamara, a potential GA prospect, is a raw forward with loads of upside. He was plagued with injuries in his first year with the Bruins, but has shown scouts enough to be in consideration for a top 5 pick. 


5. ​Siad Haji​** (VCU) - Haji, the U.S youth international has been on MLS radars for a while now and with a solid combine, will be one of the first midfielders taken in the draft. 


6. ​John Nelson​** (North Carolina) - For a league that lacks top left back talent, Nelson is an interesting option and will fill in a team’s void early in this draft. He’s a solid 1v1 defender and combines well with teammates in the attack. 


7. ​JJ Williams** ​(Kentucky) - Williams, a ​College Soccer News First Team All-American, gained notoriety this season as he led Kentucky to an impressive 19-2-1 record. The Alabama native has a well-rounded game and with a solid showing at the combine, could work his way into the top five.  


8. ​Rashid Nuhu​ (Fordham) - Nuhu, arguably the top GK prospect in the draft, has the athleticism and shot stopping ability to thrive in this league. The Right to Dream Academy product has the best feet out of any GK in this draft and is expected to be a 1st round pick. 


9. Santiago Patino (FIU) - Patino, an Orlando City HG candidate, is one of the most complete forwards in this draft. He's an impressive goal scorer and has the ability to get in behind or combine with his teammates. Expect him to be one of the first seniors off the board.


10. ​Tate Schmitt​ (Louisville) - The Cardinals forward could be one of most underrated players in this draft. Schmitt has an excellent work rate to go along with his technical ability and goal scoring prowess. 


11 ​David Egbo​** (Akron) - The Nigerian born forward, helped lead the Zips to a College Cup final in part due to his stellar hold up play and attention he commanded up front. If offered a GA contract, Egbo will be a player who likely needs time in USL, but has the potential to be a productive forward in MLS. 


12. ​Griffin Dorsey​** (Indiana) - The U.S U-20 midfielder is capable of playing on the wing or centrally and while he didn’t perform his best at the Concacaf U20 Championship, he’s performed well enough with the Hoosiers to earn a GA contract offer. 


13. ​Kamal Miller​ (Syracuse) - The Canadian born defender can play as an outside back or center back. With a good showing at the MLS Combine, expect Miller to be one of the first defenders off the board. 


14. ​Alex Comsia​ (North Carolina) - Comsia, the ACC Defender of the Year, may be the most MLS ready defender in this draft. The Canadian youth national teamer’s positioning and ability to snuff out attacks has been a major part of UNC’s success over the past four years. 


15. ​James Pyle​ (North Carolina) - Pyle, the second GK on the list and a 1st team All-ACC honoree projects as a long-term MLS player. His shot-stopping and positioning are among the best in this year’s draft. 


16. ​Tucker Bone​ (Air Force) - Bone, a box-to-box center midfielder has a great ability to win loose balls and play penetrating passes to open up a midfield. He’s one of the more complete midfielders in this draft, but may lack the upside some teams are seeking. 


17. ​Tanner Beason​ (Stanford) - Beason, the PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year and ​College Soccer News First Team All-American, has shown his ability to be a difference maker and leader in big games, and will certainly be a first round pick. 


18. ​Callum Montgomery​ (Charlotte) - Montgomery, a towering center back, is a physical presence in the air, who’s improved greatly on his ability to play balls out of the backline. Expect Montgomery to be one of the first defenders off the board. 


19. ​Abdi Mohamed​ (Akron) - Mohamed, an Ohio State transfer, was a tremendous addition in the Zips run to the College Cup. A former midfielder, Mohamed, has been converted to a right back, where he finds his best chance of success at the next level. 


20. ​Amir Bashti ​(Stanford) - A San Jose Earthquakes Homegrown eligible player, Bashti, is an offensive weapon who can play anywhere in the midfield or up front. 


21. ​James Pyle​ (North Carolina) - Pyle, the second GK on the list and a  First Team All-ACC honoree projects as a long-term MLS player. His shot-stopping and distribution are among the best in this draft. 


22. ​Sergio Rivas​ (Seattle) - Rivas, one of the best true playmakers in this draft, will find the same issues making an MLS roster as many prior #10s have from college. With that said, if Rivas can show his ability to play both sides of the ball, he could be one of the steals from this draft. 


23. ​Akeem Ward​ (Creighton) - The Bluejays outside back reads the game exceptionally and is competent in the attack. Ward is a bit of an underrated prospect, but his ability to play on either wing, should help his case. 


24. ​Colin Miller​ (Providence) - Miller, a 6’3” shot stopper, has shown an ability to dominate his box and make big saves. The Friars captain could use a solid showing at the MLS Combine, to further elevate his draft stock. 


25. ​Marcello Borges​ (Michigan) - A New York Red Bull Homegrown candidate, Borges, remains as one of the draft’s premier left back players. His ability to maintain possession under pressure and provide good service in the box will make him an appealing prospect. 


25. ​Amar Sejdic ​(Maryland) - Sejdic, a well-rounded midfielder, capped his Terrapin career with a National Championship and College Cup MVP. Sejdic has shown improvement on the defensive end throughout his career, while his on-ball talent has never been questioned. With a positive showing at the combine, Sejdic could work his way up the draft boards.