College Soccer News annually acknowledges those programs that had special seasons. The 2017 season was a shinning season for the schools identified. They may have greatly exceeded expectations, had more wins that ever before, accomplished something that will likely be 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.
Stanford – National Champions once again. Dominant is without a doubt among the words that accurately describe the current relationship between Stanford and college soccer. The Cardinal reached the summit of college soccer for the third consecutive season in 2017 becoming only the second team in NCAA history (Virginia won four in a row from 1991 through 1994) to accomplish this rare feat. What Stanford has done over the past three seasons is simply amazing when you consider the level of parity that now exists in college soccer. It is staggering that Stanford has recorded a shutout in their last twelve NCAA Tournament contests.
The Cardinal have recorded an amazing 52-7-10 overall record over the past three seasons including a 19-2-2 mark in 2017. Stanford, who seems to thrive under pressure, also secured their fourth consecutive Pac-12 title in 2017 with a 9-0-1 mark in conference play. During that four year span, Stanford has recorded a 30-3-7 in conference play. A significant feat in one of the most competitive leagues in the country where the margin for error is very small.
Forward Foster Langsdorf, the 2017 Pac-12 Player of the Year, and defender Tomas Hilliard-Arce, the 2017 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, were named by the United Soccer Coaches and College Soccer News as All-America selections. Forward Corey Baird, defender Tanner Beason, and midfielder Drew Skundrich jointed Langsdorf and Hilliard-Arce as First Team All-Pac 12 selections. Jeremy Gunn and his staff of Oige Kennedy, Charles Rodriguez and Collin Audley were honored as the 2017 National Staff of the Year.
Don't rule out a four-peat.
Indiana – Hoosier Pride. Indiana added another banner season to one of the most, if not the most, tradition rich programs in college soccer. The Hoosiers earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the thirty-first straight season in 2017 and advanced to the College Cup (Final Four) for an NCAA record nineteenth time, the second under the direction of head coach Todd Yeagley.
Indiana fell just short of securing the program's ninth national championship when they were edged in a double overtime heartbreaker 1-0 by Stanford. Regardless, the 2017 season was a spectacular season for an outstanding Hoosier team that finished with an 18-1-6 overall record. A balanced Indiana attack led by freshman forward Mason Toye (10g, 2a) found the back of the net a total of forty-nine times while a rock solid defense anchored by backs Grant Lillard, Andrew Gutman, Rece Buckmaster and Timmy Mehl and freshman netminder Trey Muse who posted eighteen clean sheets held an extremely competitve slate of opponents that included Maryland, Notre Dame, Butler, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Old Dominion, and Norh Carolina among others to a total of only seven goals.
The Hoosiers were ranked as the number two team in the nation in the season ending United Soccer Coaches and College Soccer News national polls.
Backs Lillard and Gutman were United Soccer Coaches and College Soccer News All-America selections upping to forty-one the total number of Hoosier All-America selections. Forward Toye and goalkeeper Trey Muse were 2017 College Soccer News First Team All-Freshman selections.
No doubt about it, 2017 was another historic season for Indiana that produced a ton of great memories for an already storied program.
Western Michigan – A historic season. No team in the country exceeded expectations more that the Broncos in 2017.
Western Michigan was picked to finish in the number four spot in the six team Mid-American Conference's preseason poll. The Broncos eclisped that prediction with a 5-0-0 mark in regular season league play to secure the program's first ever MAC regular season title and put a halt to Akron's twelve year run as conference champions which dated back to 2005.
Western Michigan spent a large portion of the 2017 season ranked among the top ten teams in the country with signature wins over the likes of Butler, Michigan and Akron. Head coach Chad Wiseman's team was subsequently awarded the programs second ever berth in the NCAA Tournament and first since the 2003 season and the number ten seed in the tourney. As a result they broke another barrier when they hosted an NCAA Tournament match for the first time in the history of the program and secured their first ever NCAA Tournament win when they topped Albany 2-0 to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
After the Broncos defeated Albany, Wiseman stated, "To be able to celebrate our first ever NCAA Tounament win, and to do that at home in front of our fans and supporters is amazing." Wiseman reflected the excitement the 2017 team generated when he stated, " We had an unbelievable atmosphere today at the WMU Soccer Complex and our guys felt that energy."
The Broncos historic season came to an end when they were edged by Michigan State 2-1 in East Lansing in the Sweet Sixteen. Regardless, their 17-4-1 overall record in 2017 was the most wins in program history topping the previous record of twelve wins. The seventeen wins in 2017 was a significant increase from the nine wins Western Michigan had in 2016. The Broncos were ranked as the number nine team in the country in the season ending United Soccer Coaches poll and as the number ten team in the nation in the final 2017 College Soccer News poll.
A program record eight Broncos were 2017 All-MAC selections led by senior midfielder Brandon Bye who was named the MAC Soccer Player of the Year. Seniors forward Jay McIntosh, defender Zach Bock and goalkeeper Drew Shepherd along with and junior midfielder Tommy Clark joined Bye as All-MAC First Team members. Wiseman was named the MAC Coach of the Year and he and his coaching staff of assistants Josh Ross, Shane Lyons and Marc Frankland along with Doug Raak, Mike Carbott and Danny Walen were honored as the Great Lakes Region Staff of the Year.
Bye was named an All-America selection by the United Soccer Coaches and College Soccer News. Shepherd was named an All-American by the United Soccer Coaches.
Wiseman pretty accurately summed up Western Michigan's performance in 2017 when he stated, "All-in all, I don't think we could ask for a better season."
The 2017 season was a difference maker for Western Michigan that established a mark for teams in the future to strive to emulate. It will long be remembered as a very special experience for all those involved.
New Hampshire – "Leave Your Legacy" was New Hampshire's slogan in 2017 and that is exactly what this team did with an historic season that will set the pace for furture Wildcat teams to follow. New Hampshire was awarded an at-large berth and returned to the NCAA Tournament field for the first time in twenty-three years. The Wildcats followed that by topping Fairfied in the first round of play to secure the program's first-ever win in the NCAA Tournament. They then advanced past numnber fifteen seed Dartmouth in a contest that was determined by a penalty kick shootout to earn a spot in Sweet Sixteen and establish yet another program milestone.
New Hampshire's barrier breaking season then came to an end in the third round of the NCAA Tournament when they were defeated by Indiana 2-1 to conclude the 2017 campaign with a 13-4-5 overall record. The Wildcats were ranked the number fourteen team in the county in the season ending United Soccer Coaches Poll and the eighteen team in the College Soccer News season ending poll.
The New Hampshire coaching staff led by head coach Marc Hubbard was named the East Region Staff of the Year by the United Soccer Coaches and was also named the America East Coaching Staff of the Year. Graduate Student Robin Schmidt was named to America East Soccer Striker of the Year and became the first New Hampshire Player to be named an All-American in twenty-three years when he was tabbed a Second Team All-American by the United Soccer Coaches. Schmidt was a First Team All-America East Conference selection along with teammates Linus Fallberg and Otto Sahlen.
A tenacious New Hampshire defense anchored by graduate students goalkeeper Andrew Pesci and back Willis Griffith allowed a total of only thirteen goals all year.
Wisconsin – Big Ten Champions. No doubt about a berth in the NCAA Tourney in 2017. There are a lot of potential storylines related to the Badgers' historic 2017 season. One might be the desire of this senior led band of brothers for respect, another might be the determination that likely fueled them due to the perceived slight they felt from not being awared an at-large berth in the NCAA Tourney in 2016 despite a solid resume, another might be their desire for a little revenge relating to missed opportunities in the past.
Regardless, the one common thread in all the storylines was the determination, desire, and grit of this bunch to leave a legacy of success as a team and to look back on the season knowing that they had given their all. Wisconsin accomplished that and much more in 2017 with a season in which they were the Big Ten Tournament Champions for the first time since 1995, became the outright Big Ten Tournament Champions for the first time in school history, returned to the NCAA Tournament field for the first time since 2013, and played their way into the Sweet Sixteen for the third-time in the history of the program. The Badgers completed the 2017 campaign with 12-5-5 overall record and were ranked as the number ten team in the country in the final United Soccer Coaches poll and as the number eleven team in the nation in the season ending College Soccer News poll.
Senior forward Chris Mueller (9g, 20a) was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and an All-American by the United Soccer Coaches and College Soccer News. Senior forward Mark Segbers was named to the All-Big Ten Second Team. Seniors Mueller, Segbers, Tom Barlow, Mike Catalano, Alex Masbruch, Adrian Remeniuk, and Phillip Schilling completed their tenure in Madison with a special season that they all can be proud of and that will help set the pace for the program in the future.
Fordham – What a year. A calm, cool, and composed as well as talented Fordham team had a school record fourteen win 2017 season that included a sensational run in the NCAA Tournament during which they recorded the programs first ever wins in NCAA Tourney play.
The Rams earned an-at large berth in the NCAA Tournament based on their performance during regular season play which was refelected in their number twenty-four RPI ranking.
Fordham's gutsy and improbable run in the NCAA Tourney began with a 3-2 win in overtime against a very good St. Francis Brooklyn team, During that contest they not once but twice came from a goal down to prevail and earn the right to advance to the second round to square off with number eleven seed Virginia in Charlottesville.
The Rams then upset the Cavaliers on their home turf with senior midfielder Eric Ohlendorf heading in what proved to be the game-winner in the eighty-third minute of play and junior goalkeeper Rashid Nuhu anchoring a rock solid Fordham defensive effort. Fordham then advanced to the Sweet Sixteen where they tangled with the number six seeded Duke Blue Devils in Durham.
Once again a very composed and focused Fordham team twice came back from a one goal deficiet on the road to tie the contest 2-2 at the conclusion of regulation. After two scoreless overtime periods, Fordham earned the right to advance to the Elite Eight for the first time in the history of the program when they prevailed 8 to 7 in a penalty kick shootout. During the shootout Nuhu had three stops and backup senior goalkeeper Jordan Blank calmly netted what proved to be the difference making penalty kick.
Fordham then traveled to Chapel Hill where their magical ride and record breaking season came to an end in the Elite Eight when they were topped by North Carolina 2-1 in a closely contested contest.
Junior forward Janos Loebe (7g, 9a) was named an All-American by College Soccer News. Senior defender Matthew Lewis was named the 2017 Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year. Loebe, Lewis, senior midfielder Jannik Loebe, and junior goalkeeper Rashid Nuhu were All-Atlantic-10 First Team selections.
Duke – A statement season. The Blue Devils belong on any short list of teams that had a banner season in 2017. For starters, Duke returned to the NCAA Tournament field for the first time since 2011 and for the twenty-sixth time in the program's history. The Blue Devils were subsequently awarded the number six seed in the NCAA Tournament on the basis of an impressive showing during regular season play against a very competive slate of opponents. Duke's resume included four wins over teams that had an RPI in the top twenty-five and eight wins over teams that had an RPI in the top fifty. It is also significant that the Blue Devils recorded six more wins in 2017 than they did in 2016.
The Blue Devils topped FIU 2-1 in their opening contest in the big dance. Duke's season then came to a heartbreaking end in the Sweet Sixteen when a determined Fordham team topped them 8 to 7 in penalty kicks after the contest was tied 2-2 at the end of regulation and two overtime periods. After that contest Duke head coach John Kerr stated, "I'm very grateful and proud of the whole team, but especially those seniors who have fought so hard to put Duke back in the playoffs. I'm desperately sorry how it ended here, but so much to be proud of."
Duke concluded a noteworthy 2017 campaign with a 13-4-3 overall record and a number thirteen ranking in the United Soccer Coaches Poll and a number fifteen ranking in the final College Soccer News National Poll. Senior forward Brian White (10g, 2a) was a 2017 United Soccer Coaches All-America selection and was named to the All-ACC Second Team. Senior defenders Markus Fjortoft and Carter Manley and freshman goalkeeper Will Pulisic were All-ACC Third Team members.
Colgate – Wow! Never say never. After beginning the 2017 season with a 5-10-1 overall record and a 2-4-1 mark in Patriot League play, it appeared on the surface that this was a team on the ropes with little chance of earning a spot in the six team Patriot League Tournament much less a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
However, this determined band of brothers defied the odds with a seven game win streak that began with wins over Navy and Boston University in league play securing the sixth and final seed in the Patriot League Tournament. It then appeared likely that their stay in the tournament would be a short one.
However the Raiders proved otherwise when they secured wins on the road against number three seeded Bucknell, number one seeded Loyola in which they came back from a two goal deficiet in the final twenty minutes of regulation to secure a 3-2 win in overtime, and number five seed Holy Cross to win the Patriot League Championship and the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. The Raiders become the first ever number six seed to win the Patriot League Tournament and the first team since Bucknell in 2009-10 to claim back-to-back Patriot League titles.
Colgate then won the program's first ever NCAA Tournament win when they topped Atlantic-10 Champion Massachusetts 2-0 on the road to earn the right to square off with number thirteen seeded Michigan out of the Big Ten Conference. Colgate's season looked to be over when Michigan jumped out to a 2-0 advantage in the first ten minutes of play but once again the Raiders pulled off a stunner when they responded with two goals of their own to knot the score at 2-2 going into intermission and then netted the game-winning goal in the 88th minute of play to secure a 3-2 win and earn the right to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
Colgate's magical ride subsequently came to an end when they were topped by Louisville 2-0 in the Sweet Sixteen to conclude a truly amazing season with a 12-11-1 overall record.
Raider head coach Erik Ronning summed it up well when he stated, "I am just incredibly proud of the individuals on the team. These young men responded any time adversity was faced. What the boys have accomplished over the course of the last couple weeks had been incredible"
San Francisco – A strong finish. Every year a team or two stands out for starting slowing then turning their season around. The Dons were arguably at the top of that list in 2017.
The Dons won the West Coast Conference championship to punch their ticket into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2008 season. After beginning the season with a 3-8-0 record that included a 3 to 1 loss to Santa Clara in their opening contest in WCC play, it looked like it was going to be an uneventful and very long season for San Francisco. However the Dons regrouped and proved otherwise rebounding from that point forward to reel off six consecutive wins to finish regular season play with a 9-8-0 overall record and a 6-1-0 mark in conference play to claim the WCC title and the automatic berth into the NCAA Tourney that goes with it.
San Francisco then traveled to Berkeley and secured a 2-1 come from behind win over Bay Area rival California out of the Pac-12 Conference. The Golden Bears had topped the Dons 3-2 when they faced each other earlier in the year during regular season play. The win was also significant since it was the first time since the 2007 campaign that San Francisco came off the pitch with a win over California. The win was the Don's first in NCAA Tournament play since the 1994 season. San Francisco's season then came to an end in the second round of the NCAA Tournament when they were defeated 3-2 in a close contest by number four seed Louisville.
A determined San Francisco team never gave up. The Dons gained momemtum as the season and may have improved more than any team in the country as the season progressed. The Dons concluded the 2017 campaign with a 10-9-0 record recording nine wins in their last eleven contests. Credit the San Francisco seniors with a building block and momentum building season that provides a solid foundation upon which Soto and the returning players can build.
Senior midfielder Leon Schwarzer (6g, 9a) was named the WCC Player of the Year. Schwarzer and junior midfielder Sean Bowman (11g, 2a) were 2017 All-WCC First Team selections. Senior midfielder Aaron Lombardi (3g, 9a) and junior midfielder Santiago Digiuseppe (6g, 4a) were named to the All-WCC Second Team. Eddie Soto was named the 2017 WCC Coach of the Year.
Lipscomb – A legacy of excellence. The Bison took their game to a higher level in 2017 recording the most successful season to date in the history of the program. It was a year of firsts for Lipscomb who advanced to the ASUN Tournemant Championship for the first time ever, won their first-ever ASUN Tournament title and earned the program's first ever berth in the NCAA Tournament. In addition, the ten member senior class ended their four year tenure at Lipscomb having won more games than any other senior class.
The Bison earned the sixth and final seed in the ASUN Tournament. Lipscomb opened the tourney by squeaking past NJIT in penatly kicks 3-0 after the contest was tied at the end of regulation and overtime. It was a close call for the Bison who allowed NJIT to come from three goals down to tie the score. The big story of the contest was the play of redshirt freshman goalkeeper Luke Wilson who came off the bench after not having played a minute to date to make two saves in the penalty kick shootout for Lipscomb.
The Bison then upset ASUN powerhouse FGCU on their home turf 2-1 to advance to the conference championship. The victory over FGCU was noteworthy in that it was head coach Charles Morrow's one hundreth victory at Lipscomb and was a barrier breaker. The win over FGCU was the first time that the Bison prevailed in an ASUN semifinal contest having lost in seven previous ASUN tournament semifinal matches. Lipscomb then defeated Jacksonville 2-1 in Jacksonville to secure the ASUN Championship and the automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament that accompaies it.
The Bison's magical post-season ride then came to an end in the first round of the NCAA Tourney when they were topped 2-0 by Butler in Indianapolis to conclude their history making season with a 11-8-2 record. Murrow accutrately summed up the significance of the season when he discussed the senior class. He stated, "It will take some time for these guys to sit back and reflect on what they've done." Morrow added, "They've accomplished great things this year and left a legacy of excellence and commitment that is second to none. The fruits of their labor will be seen by classes and classes to come."
Presbyterian College – A strong finish. No other team in the nation with a 6-9-5 overall record in 2017 had a more significant season than Presbyterian. The Blue Hose completed regular season play with a 5-8-3 overall record and a 3-3-2 mark in conference action which enabled them to punch their ticket to the Big South Conference Tournament by claiming the sixth and final berth in the league tournament. What followed was an amazing run in the Big South Tournament that yielded a barrier breaking 2017 season that forever rasied the standard of excellence at PC and gave the 2017 squad a permanent place in the history of the program.
It began in the conference tournament when Presbyterian traveld to Buies Creek and upset the number three seeded Campbell Camels 2-1 to keep their season alive with an upcoming semifinal contest on the road against the number two seeded Radford Highlanders. The Blue Hose then topped Radford in a contest that was decided by a penalty kick shootout after neither team was able to find the back of the net at the end of regulation and two overtime periods. Senior goalkeeper Connor Behrend had an eight save evening in goal along with a save during the shootout to play a key role in the contest with Radford.
PC then advanced to the championshiop match for the first time in the six years that the program has completed at the Division I level. Number one seeded High Point loomed as the next opponent on PC's dance card. Once again the Blue Hose prevailed in a penalty kick shootout after the game was scoreless at the conclusion of 110 minutes of play. Behrend and the PC backline of Garrett Glaze, Victor Menudier, and Michael Wilson were rock solid in containing a potent High Point attack.
Presbyterian earned the programs first ever Division I berth in the NCAA Tournement. Their historic season then came to an end when they were topped 1-0 in overtime by a very good UNCW team.
Sophomore midfielder Sergio Pinto was named to the 2017 Big South Second Team. Forward Clement Vannier, midfieder Adrian Edo Martin and defender Victor Menudier were named to the Big South All-Freshman team.
The future appears to hold a lot of promise for Presbyterian under the direction of head coach Jonathan Potter who will be entering his third season at the helm of the program in 2018. It is noteworthy that eight of the fourteen players who scored for the Blue Hose in 2017 were freshman led by Vannier with five.
Central Arkansas – A big step forward. The 2017 season was the best in program history for Central Arkansas. The Bears won the program's first Missouri Valley Confernce title and first ever berth in the NCAA Tournament. Good things are happening at Central Arkansas. For evidence of that you need look no further than the fact that their win total has increased annually for the past three years.
Head coach Ross Duncan stated, "It's a special season, I'll never forget it. We've got a group, especially with the older guys, that have been through some tough seasons here and didn't give up." He added, "I'm just proud to be part of it." The Bears claimed their best-ever finish in regular season MVC play, going 5-3-0 in the conference to earn the second seed in the MVC Tournament.
Central Arkansas then advaced past Bradley 8-7 in a penalty kick shootout in the MVC Tournament after the contest was knotted at 1-1 at the end of regulation and extra time and topped Missouri State University 1-0 in overtime in the championship game to claim the MVC's automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament. The Bears' barrier breaking season ended when they fell to SMU 2-0 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Sophomore forward Niklas Brodacki was named the MVC Player of the Year and the MVC Offensive Player of the Year. Senior midfielder Pepe San Roman joined Brodacki as an All-MVC First Team selection. Midfielder Chris Holmes and forward Donald Benamna were honored as All-MVC Second Team selections. Duncan and assistants Mitch McKay, Jordan Bates, and Nick Doyle were named the 2017 MVC Coaching Staff of the Year.