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College Soccer News 2016 Top 20 Recruiting Classes

March 19, 2016 - College Soccer News issues its initial rankings of the Top 20 Men's College Soccer Recruiting Classes in 2016 based on the information available at this time.  The landscape may change in the coming months as additional information becomes available regarding who is going to go where so in August College Soccer News will update its rankings based on the additional information available at that time and will expand its rankings to include the Top 50 Recruiting Classes in the country.  

1.

North Carolina

North Carolina put together a class that might help them be the favorites to win the national championship in 2016.  Led by US youth national team players Cameron Lindley, Auston Trusty and Mauricio Pineda this class has the makings to be very special.  Andrew Romig, Nathaniel Adamolekun, Jeremy Kelly, John Skahan, Giovanni Montesdeoca and Anthony McCafferty will join the team as well in fall to deepen an already talented roster.  And if that wasn’t enough former US youth National teamer Drew Murphy transfers in to Carolina from UCSB.

Sleeper- Nils Bruening.  The forward out of Germany had to sit last fall for a talented Carolina team, and word out of Chapel Hill is that he might end up being their best player in the fall, which says a lot for a team as deep and talented as Carolina.

2.

Maryland

Keegan Kelly, Donovan Pines, Miles Stray, Mike Heitzman, and Luca Levee spotlight a very strong incoming freshman class but it might be the two transfers that give Maryland the number 2 class of 2016.  Jake Rozhansky transferred from Virginia and Gordon Wild who was one of the nation’s leading scores at USC Upstate add a huge piece to the Maryland attack, and could be what makes Maryland a major contender for the College Cup.

Sleeper- Donovan Pines- The towering centerback is athletic and powerful, his feet need to get better but he might have the most potential in the class.

3.

Akron

This ranking is heavily weighted on what decision Emmanuel Sabbi decides to do. There are rumors that Sabbi has pro options in Europe. The talented forward out of Ohio will make a good Akron recruiting class a great one. Add US Youth national team player Nicholas Hinds, Canadian U20 defender Reggie Laryea to go along with Marcel Zajac, Jesus Perez, Alex Mapp, Jackson Crawford, Tor Saunders, Jeremy Pollard and Jonathan Lewis and Akron will have plenty of good choices in the fall.

Sleeper- Jonathan Lewis- The mid out of Florida is smooth on the ball and can dictate the temp of the game, has the chance to be the next big time midfielder that Akron produces.

4.

Ohio State

The Buckeyes loaded up in the 2016 class with four players with national team experience.  U20 US National team defender Andrew Lombard transfers in from Northeastern. Northern Ireland youth international and two time junior college All-American defender Niall Logue from Yavapai, Canadian U18 National team midfielder Leonardo Kosaka, and US U17 National team midfielder George Braima join the Buckeyes in the fall.  Incoming freshman Jack Holland and Brennon Davis as well as transfers Brady Blackwell from San Diego State and John Schuman from Wake Forest and Ohio State might have enough to make a run past the round of 16 in 2016.

Sleeper- After sitting a year of residency (Michigan transfer), former U17 National Team forward Nate Kohl comes back into the fold for a Buckeye team that returns the majority of its offense.  The strong and powerful Kohl might be a difference maker for the Buckeyes in 2016 on the offensive side of the ball.

5.

Virginia

Virginia added some major pieces for the 2016 class lead by US Youth National team players Terrell Lowe, Lucas Mendes, Weston Mckennie, Raheem Taylor-Parkes and Aaron James.   Victor Falck, Joshua Goldstein, Colin Shutter and transfer Bay Kurtz are big time players as well and could help Virginia challenge North Carolina for the ACC Championship in the fall. 

Sleeper- David Norris the centerback from Orlando City has all the tools to be a big time college soccer player.  Athletic and powerful Norris might have to adjust to the speed of play in college soccer, but he has the tools to become a factor sooner rather than later.

6.

Wake Forest

US youth national teamer Isaiah Young headlines the class.  The speedy forward/mid is a handful. Add Michael Desheilds, John Menke, Joey DeZart, EmaTwumasi, Bruno Lapa and Eddie Folds, and Bobby Muuss continues the recruiting dominance that has been at Wake Forest for the last decade.

Sleeper- EmaTwumasi the mid/forward is crafty athletic and can beat players all over the park.  He’ll need to get used to the college game, but with the way Wake Forest plays it won’t take him long to be a major factor for the Demon Deacons. 

7.

Washington

Elijah Rice headlines the class.  A big time forward that will cause havoc in college soccer as he has done at every level as a youth.  Blake Bodily, Jared Townsend, Handwalla Brown, Bryce Logan, Jasper Malamud, Ryan Sailor and Jesse Fitzgerald add to a Washington side that looks to bounce back from a 2015 year that Washington would like to forget.

Sleeper- Blake Bodily- The outside mid is smooth on the ball, combines well and can go at defenders in 1v1 situations with a great deal of success.  Look for Jaime Clarke to create a system to get him isolated to play to his strengths.

8.

New Mexico

Ethan Zubak might be one of the better forwards in the country.  Great on the ball, good in the air, and has all the making to be a major focal point for New Mexico moving forward.  Centerback Matthew Constant has seen time with the youth national team and should come in and play right away.  Add Noah Bushey, Chris Lovato and Grayson Dupont and New Mexico should cause some problems come NCAA Tournament time.

Sleeper- Noah Bushey a midfielder who reads the game well, can ping the ball all over the park, and can unlock defenses, expect him to fit in well with Jeremy Fishbein’s system.

9.

Clemson

Fresh off a run to the national finals, Clemson’s 2016 class reloads itself with talent.  US youth national teamer Tanner Dietrickhealines the class, but don’t overlook Harrison Kurtz and Michael Swift.  Both add size and speed to the class and should be impactful players for Clemson.  Add Jon Breed, Nate Hall, Cale Thorne, Robby Jacobs and Joaquin MirallesSanz and Clemson should be competitive yet again.

Sleeper- Joaquin MirallesSanz the goalkeeper from Villareal FC is quick and athletic.  He doesn’t have the size of most college goalkeepers but could be in line to be another standout goalie for the Clemson Tigers moving forward.

10.

California

Depending on how commitments fall California could end up with a higher ranked recruiting class, but for now they stay at #10.  Goal scoring machine Simon Lekressner could be a big time forward in college, and David Burns has all the tools to be the next big time center back from a school that seems to produce them year in and year out.  Brian O’Hara, Drake Callendar and Javier Macias round out a very good class for a California side that looks to compete for the PAC 12 championship.

Sleeper- Keep an eye out for David Burns, he spent limited time in and out of youth national team camps, but he can flat out play.  Athletic, good in the air, and has good passing range.  If he can adjust to the speed of the college game quickly, he could be an impact player right away.

11.

SMU

It didn’t take long for Kevin Hudson to get the ball rolling at SMU.  The team made a nice tournament run in 2016 and this class should help to keep the Mustangs in the national scene for the years to come.  Toshiki Yasuda from FC Dallas should help bolster the class going forward.  The crafty midfielder can do a little bit of everything going forward and is a handful going at guys 1v1.  DJ Williams should help impact the team going forward as well with his pace.  Edwin Munjoma, Boston Gilbert, Cristian Gonzalez and Garrett McLaughlin help shape out a very good recruiting class.

Sleeper-  SMU has two sleepers in the class.  Edwin Munjoma who plays left back for FC Dallas has the athleticism to play right away and be successful at the college level.  Garrett McLaughlin is the other.  A towering forward who can score goals, McLaughlin has the strength and ability to make life difficult for the opposition.  Expect to hear his name a lot in the future as he has all the tools to become a big time playmaker. 

12.

Louisville

Louisville had the best RPI in the country for any team not in the NCAA tournament in 2015 due to not finishing over .500.  That shouldn’t be a problem in 2016!  Louisville adds the Ivy League defender of the Year in former Dartmouth goalie Stefan Cleveland, a player they desperately needed.  Add two time junior college All-American Mohamed Thiaw up top from Cincinnati State who can unbalance defenses with his pace and skill and Louisville strengthens two very big needs.  Connor Brazil, Cherif Dieye, Grant Hollkamp, Mouhamadou HaydSarr and Kataro Umeda round out the class.

Sleeper- Kataro Umedo.  The holding mid out of Cleveland is a hard nose player, who technically can run the midfield for a Kenny Lolla style of play.  Calm on the ball and can play

13.

Loyola (MD)

It was a rough year for Steve Nichols in 2015.  Loyola went 2-13-2 and finished last in the Patriot League, but 2016 can bring new light with a recruiting class as talented as any other in the Patriot League.  US Youth national team forward Brian Saramago out of the Red Bulls highlights the class. The powerful and speedy forward can stretch defenses and score goals.  Dominic Duncan is also talented as is Barry Sharifi.  Add Nicholas Brown, Michael Colao, Francisco Conteras, Joshua Fawole, Shane Kastl, Juan Ramirez and Jonathan Sousa and you have a group of newcomers that might help turn the program around in the near future.

Sleeper- Barry Sharifi and Nicholas Brown.  Another forward from the Red Bull, technical and tactical, combines well and scores goal, between him and Saramago there should be enough goals to make Loyola a force moving forward.  Brown is another forward, who has a great first step and if he can adapt to the college game quickly will be a handful for defenders.

14.

Indiana

IU seems to be a common thread in top recruiting classes around the country and this class is no different.  Center back and US Youth national teamer Alex Palazzolo headlines the class.  Indiana Fire left back Spencer Glass will strengthen a backline and give IU options in the position.  Will Eslinger, Isaac Friendt, Ian Black and Drew Nuelle finish out a very good IU class.

Sleeper- Spencer Glass!  Tough to think that Glass will play over Andrew Gutman, but don’t be surprised if IU transitions either Glass or Gutman to an outside mid to get both of them on the field.  

15.

Duke

Duke had an amazing recruiting class until this week when Matt Olusunde and Will Pulisic decided to sign over in Europe.  But rest assure Blue Devil fans there is enough in this class to do well in the years to come.  The class is headlined by Binghampton transfer and Herman Trophy candidate Robert Moewes who should slide into goal immediately.  Add Colby Agu, John Doran, Chinenye Uche, Suniel Veerakone, Maz Moser and Brandon Williamson to the mix and Duke's class looks very good.

Sleeper- Max Moser the German defender, could see himself in the midfield for Duke to add bite.  A very good talent that will add strength to either the backline or in midfield, expect big things from him in the ACC.

16.

Michigan State

2015 was an off year for a Michigan State program that has been a regular in the NCAA tournament, but have no fear Spartan fans help is on the way.  Forward and youth national teamer Giuseppe Barone should make an immediate impact for a Spartan team looking for goals.  Add defenders Michael Wetunga and Michael Pimlott to help strengthen the backline and forward Michael Beckett and the Spartans should be in the mix for the NCAA’s yet again.

Sleeper- Michael Beckett- A bruising type of center forward, who will be a handful for the Big Ten, needs work on his feet but has all the tools to become a big time player at Michigan State.

17.

UCSB 

Another good recruiting class for UC Santa Barbara. Daniel Amo headlines the class.  The Right to Dream forward out of Connecticut can do it all on the ball and is great running at players.  Red Bull defender Kyle Perno will add depth to the backline, and Sebastian Des Pres, Noah Billingsley, Lamar Batista, and Milo Barton round out a class that will help.

Sleeper- Kyle Perno, a bit undersized as a true center back, but has the grit and bite to make an impact for UCSB going forward.  Can play out of the back and reads the game well.

18.

Georgetown

Georgetown needed to reload after seeing what some might consider the most talented senior class in the country leave and another depart to ink an early Homegrown contract.This class is highlighted by forward Ifunanyachi Achara from the Right to Dream Program, the powerful and talented forward should come in and fill the goal scoring touch that was lost when All-American Brandon Allen graduated.  Add to the class Jorge Burke, Mason Deeds, J.B. Fischer, David Mason, Dylan Nealis, Austin Riddick and Riley Strassner and Georgetown might have enough firepower to continue its dominance in the Big East.

Sleeper- Mason Deeds, the Red Bull center back is good in the air and good with his feet, mobility might be the biggest question in his game, but his mind for the game and positioning there may be no questions at all.

19.

Loyola Marymount

In what might just be the most talented recruiting class to ever come to LMU, this recruiting class has a little bit of everything.  The class is led by Right to Dream forward Sahid Conteh out of Santa Barbara SC.  The powerful and speedy forward will need to adapt to the college came but has the frame and skill to be a very good college plaer.  Garrett Amador, Jose Benavides, Nicholas Dauchot, William DuBay, Paul Lewis, Chairat Puengrod, Rodrigo San Roman, and Brandon Sanchez round out the class.

Sleeper- There are two sleepers in the class.  Chairat Puengrod and Brandon Sanchez both are teammates with Sahid Conteh at Santa Barbara SC, a club team that has dominated the youth national club scene for the past five years.  Both players have the ability to step in right away and help LMU.

20.

UCLA

The class might end up higher if all the verbal’s sign but to this point Reggie Cannon headlines the class.  The speedy and talented defender out of Texas can unlock defenses with and without the ball, a steady defender, expect big things from him.  Ethan Shacknai, Duncan Werling and transfer Jason Romero complete the class.

Sleeper- Jason Romero! The two time All American out of Pima’s Junior College is a monster up top.  Romero has proven he can score at every level and now takes his talents to one of the biggest stages in college soccer at UCLA.

20.

UMBC

UMBC rounds out College Soccer News top 20 with a class that is full of athletes.  Headlined by US Youth international Trey Vinson.  The defender can cover ground, is good with his feet, and his a good soccer IQ. Expect Vinson to be an immediate contributor.  Jordan Dove, Tre Pulliam, Hunter Trefney, Colin Weyant and Nick Gumbs round out the class.

Sleeper- Tre Pulliam! The forward out of Maryland is a very gifted athlete, and was part of a Baltimore Celtic team that won the U17 National Championship last year.  He has a great first step and is able to score big time goals for any team he plays on.  He will be a huge factor in the American East for the next four years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top Assistant Coaches 2015

February 28, 2016 - Twelve difference makers who are making an impact. College Soccer News annually seeks to recognize assistant coaches across the country who are excelling at their work. Our selections for 2015 include some who have been listed in the past as well as some not previously recognized. In making these selections we state up-front that we know some very deserving assistant coaches will be left out as is always the case when individuals are singled out for recognition. The current selections continue our trend in the past several seasons of placing additional weight on team success on the field of play in the selection criteria.

There are many very good assistant coaches in the collegiate ranks across the nation who have had and will continue to have a very positive impact on college soccer. The very best are effective teachers, communicators, motivators, and recruiters. They relate well to the players they coach while maintaining their respect. Successful head coaches will be the first to emphasize the role that their assistants play in the level of success that a program achieves. The very best assistance coaches are soccer and people savvy mentors who understand their role and are totally aligned with the direction of the head coach. 

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 at Portland, Robert McCourt at Monmouth, Bobby Muus at Wake Forest, Mike Jacobs formerly at Evansville, Todd Yeagley at Indiana, Jesse Comier at Vermont, Kelly Findley at North Carolina State, Erik Ronning at Colgate, Brian Wiese at Georgetown, Darren Powell at Elon, Damon Rensing at Michigan State, Jamie Clark at Washington, Kevin Anderson at Columbia, Sean Phillips at UIC, Eric Pogue at Oakland, Ralph Polson at Wofford, Scott Calabrese at FIU, 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 at UC Irvine, Kylie Stannard at Yale, Mario Sanchez at SIUE and Nick Carlin-Voigt at Portland.  

Jukka Masalin

Syracuse

Masalin came to Syracuse in 2010 when Ian McIntyre took over the reigns of the program. He was part of the turnaround at Syracuse that included a banner 2015 season in which the Orange was 16-5-4 and advanced to the College Cup for the first time in the history of the program.

He was promoted to Associate Head Coach at Syracuse in 2014. Prior to that he was an assistant under McIntyre at Harwick. Before that he served as the head assistant coach for the Atlanta Silverbacks from 2004 through 2007.  

Phillip Jones 

Clemson

Jones became an assistant coach at Clemson when Mike Noonan became the head coach in 2010. He was promoted to Assoicate Head Coach in 2012.

Jones has been part of a Clemson program that has improved yearly since 2010. In 2015 the Tigers were 17-3-4 overall and advanced to the College Cup Final for the first time in twenty-eigth seasons.

Prior to coming to Clemson, Jones was an assistant coach at Embry-Riddle and at Brown. He played collegiae soccer at Emory-Riddle where he was a four-time All-Florida Sun Conference selection and an honorable mention All-American in 1999.  

Ian Gordona 

Ohio State  

Gordona is among the repeat selections. He joined John Bluem's staff as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinatior in 2014. Bluem stated, "He (Gordona) is an excellent young coach, tremendous motivator, and fantastic recruiter."

In 2015 Gordona played a key role in attracting a recruiting class to Ohio State that was ranked by College Soccer News as the ninth best in the country.The Buckeyes won the 2015 Big Ten regular season title, earned the number nine seed in the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen.

Gordona's served as an assistant coach at the Univeristy of Michigan for two seasons and was a recruiting liaison and academy coach with MLS's Columbus Crew Youth Development Program for four years prior to coming to Ohio State. 

Brian Rowland 

Maryland

Rowland joined the coaching staff at Maryland as an assistant coach under Sasho Cirovski in 2011. In 2015, Rowland was promoted to associate head coach.

Rowland has played a key role in mentoring several highly successful Terp goalkeepers during his time to date at Maryland. He also has helped guide Maryland to four consecutive regular season and tournament conference championships. Maryland earned its fifteenth consecutive invite to the NCAA Tournament in 2015, was awarded the number ten seed in the NCAA Tourney, and advanced to the Elite Eight.

Rowland was a four-year starter and two-time captain as a player at UMBC. 

Ryan Hopkins 

Denver

Hopkins came to Denver in 2013 after serving as an assistant coach at Wisconsin for a season and at Cal Poly for four seasons.

Denver has won the Summit League regular season and tournament titles for the past three years and a berth in the NCAA Tourney.

The Pioneers had a banner season in 2015 during which they earned the number thirteen seed in the NCAA Tournament and finished the season with a 15-1-3 overall record. Hopkins played a key role in working with a tenacious Denver defense that allowed a total of only eight goals and recorded twelve shutouts in 2015.

He was honored by the NSCAA as the 2015 West Region Assistant Coach of the Year. 

John Smith

Stanford

Smith came to Stanford in 2012 when Jeremy Gunn became the head coach of the Cardinal. He was promoted to Associate Head Coach in 2014.

Prior to coming to The Farm he was the head coach at Division II Incarnate Word for six years and before that he served as an assistant coach at CSU Bakersfield.

At Stanford Smith has worked primarily with the attack and has been an important ingredient in the success the Cardinal has enjoyed since 2012 including Pac-12 Championships in 2013 and 2014 and culminating in an 18-2-3 record in 2015 and the program's first national championship.  

Dane Brenner

Wake Forest 

Brenner has served as an assistant coach at Wake Forest for five seasons with a focus on working with the Demon Deacon defense and serving as as the program's recruiting coordinator.

Wake Forest was 17-3-2 in 2015, they were awarded the number one seed in the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the Elite Eight were they were topped 2-1 in overtime by eventual national champion Stanford. The Wake Forest 2015 recruiting class was ranked by College Soccer News as the number eight class in the country.

Brenner, who is from High Point, North Carolina, was an assistant coach at Connecticut for four seasons prior to coming to Wake Forest. He was a four year starter and an All-Conference USA goalkeeper as a player at South Florida. 

Brian Maisonneuve 

Indiana 

Maisonneuve is among those who are repeat selections. He joined the IU staff under head coach Todd Yeagley in 2010. He was named Associate Head Coach in 2014.

Prior to that he was an assistant coach at Louisville for two seasons and before that he was an assistant coach for the U.S. U-20 National Team for four seasons. Maisonneuve had a banner carrear as a collegiate player at Indiana and also spent nine seasons with the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer. He was named the 2015 MIdwest Region Coach of the Year by the NSCAA.

IU earned its 29th straight bid to the NCAA Tourney in 2015 and was awarded the the number sixteen seed. They advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tourney and finished the year with a 13-5-3 overall record.     

Johnny Torres

Creighton

Torres is synonymous with Creighton soccer. He had an outstanding career as a collegiate player at Creighton leading the Bluejays to their first ever College Cup appearance in 1996. In 1997 he won the Hermann Trophy.

Torres will enter his tenth season as an assistant coach at Creighton in 2016. He has been named the Great Lakes Region Assistant Coach of the Year three times in the past five seasons.

His roles on the coaching staff include scouting, recruiting, and training. In 2015 he played a key role in developing a very potent Bluejay attack that was part of another successful season in which Creighton was 19-4-0 overall and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament. 

Stephen Gorton

Oakland 

Gorton became a member of the Oakland men's soccer staff in 2011.

Prior to that he was the head coach at Garden City Commuity College for four seasons. He also served as an assistant coach at Western Illinois. Gorton played college soccer at WIU and was named an NSCAA All-American.

Oakland Coach Eric Pogue stated,"Since arriving to Oakland in 2011, Sgephen has helped assist Oakland to three league championships and two NCAA tournament appearances in the last three years including back to back Horizon League titles in 2014 and 2015." Pogue added, "Stephen has played an instrumental role in the success of our program at all levels program management including team training, recruiting, scouting, camp director, scheduling, fundraising, and equipment."  

Zach Samol

Georgetown

Somol will enter his 11th season as a member of head coach Brian Wiese's staff at Georgetown and fifth as the Associate Head Coach.

Samol is an important ingredient in a coaching staff that has taken the program at Georgetown to new heights in conference play as well as on the national scene. The Hoyas have earned a berth in the NCAA Tourney five times in the last six seasons and are now a national powerhouse. In 2015 the Hoyas were 16-2-3 overall with an impressive 9-0-0 mark in Big East Conference action. Their season included an eighteen game unbeaten streak and a fourteen game win streak. Prior to coming to Georgetown,

Somol was an assistant coach at Yale for four seasons and before that an assistant coach at Boston College for two years. He played college soccer at Dartmouth where he was an All-Ivy selection.   

John Murphy

Boston College 

Murphy will enter his third season as the Associate Head Coach at Boston College under Head Coach Ed Kelly.

Murphy is an established coach with a long record of success who brings a ton of coaching experience to the pitch. He is a proven recruiter with an eye for talent as reflected in the classes that he has been associated with over the years. His resume includes head coaching experience at Anderson University, Assumption College and Massasoit Community College.  He has also served as an assistant coach at Clemson and Brown and has been a member of the staff of the New England Revolution, the Columbus Crew, and Livingston of the Scottish First Division.

Boston College finished the 2015 season ranked by the NSCAA and College Soccer News as the number ten team in the country. The Eagles completed the season with an 11-8-2 overall record that included a run to the Elite Eight for only the second time in the history of a very successful soccer program.    

 

2015 Was A Season To Remember At These Schools

College Soccer News annually likes to acknowledge those programs that had special seasons. The 2015 season was a shinning season for the schools identified. It may be that they greatly exceeded expectations, or won more games than ever before, or accomplished something that will be a springboard for future seasons, or put together an improbable run. Regardless of the reason, it was a season that will be remembered, that will always bring a sense of pride and accomplishment to those involved, and that will have a positive impact on the program for years to come. 

Any really successful coach will quickly tell you that the level of success they enjoy is dependent upon having talented, dedicated, and focused players. You can be the greatest coach in the world but without talented players you are not going to go very far. However,in the process of making any meaningful analysis of the 2015 season, one fact jumps out. Coaching had a huge impact on the success of the programs identified below. They were all difference makers. 


Stanford - National Champions! Those two words pretty much sums it up. Stanford won the program's first national championship in 2015 in more than one-hundred years of men's soccer. When Jeremy Gunn the became the head coach at Stanford in 2012 the Cardinal were coming off a 6-10-2 season. Nonetheless many felt it was just a matter of time before Stanford under Gunn's direction won a national championship. He proved them right in 2015 with an 18-2-3 season that included the program's second consecutive Pac-12 championship and wins over Santa Clara, Ohio State, and number one seeded Wake Forest on the road to advance to the College Cup where they then topped Akron and Clemson to secure the national championship. The success the Cardinal enjoyed in 2015 didn't occur overnight. Stanford steadily and yearly upped their talent level and their mental toughness under Gunn's guidance  The Cardinal were 9-8-1 in 2012, 10-7-4 in 2013 in which they returned to the NCAA Tournament field for the first time since 2001, and 13-3-3 in 2014 when the program won its first Pac-12 title since back in 2001. Junior forward Jordan Morris and senior defender Brandon Vincent were NSCAA and College Soccer News All-Americans. Morris, Vincent and senior midfielder Ty Thompson were NCAA Division I All-Far West Region selections. Junior goalkeeper Andrew Epstein was an All-Far West Second Team selection and senior midfielder Eric Verso an All-Far West Third Team selection. This team had plenty of star power but the strength of the Cardinal from top to bottom and their mental toughness are the factors that separated this group from past Stanford teams.  


Clemson - This has been a great year to be a Clemson Tiger. Clemson had a banner season in 2015 in which they were 17-3-4 and advanced to the national championship game for the first time in twenty-eight years. The Tigers returned to prominence on the national scene several years ago but it is impossible to talk about the 2015 campaign without reflecting on what Mike Noonan has accomplished since taking over the reigns of the program in 2010. It was clear early own that good things were happening at Clemson under Noonan's direction as he slowly but surely began to rebuild a winning attitude while at the same time making new inroads on the recruiting trail that improved the level of talent on board.  In 2013 the Tigers returned to the NCAA Tournament field for the first time since the 2006 season. In 2014 they took another huge step forward when they won the ACC Tournament Championship and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in NCAA Tournament play. The success the Tigers had in 2015 is also a positive refletion on the perseverence, dedication, not to mention the talent of the 2015 senior class of forwards T.J. Casner and Kyle Murphy, midfielder Paul Clowes who was named the ACC Midfielder of the Year , and back Kyle Fisher who was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Clemson was awarded the number two seed in the NCAA Tournament and advanced past Elon, UC Santa Barbara and Maryland to return to the College Cup for the first time in ten years. They then advanced past Syracuse in penalty kicks before losing to Stanford in the national championship match.  Noonan was named the 2015 National Coach of the Year by the NSCAA. Fisher, Casner, and Clowes were named to the College Soccer News All-American Team and freshman back Patrick Bunk-Anderson was named to the CSN All-Freshman Team. Casner, Fisher, and goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell were named NSCAA All-Americans.


Syracuse - 2015 was a season of firsts for Syracuse. Under the direction of Ian McIntyre the Orange advanced to the College Cup for the first time in the history of the program. They also won their first Atlantic Coast Conference Championship with an amazing run in the conference tournament that included advancing past N.C. State at home and then North Carolina, Clemson, and Notre Dame on the road. Syracuse finished the season with an impressive 16-5-4 overall record. It was the second season in a row that the Orange won sixteen games which is just one win away from the single season record of seventeen wins in 1982. Syracuse was ranked as the number three team in the nation in the season ending College Soccer News National Poll and as the number four team in the country in the final NSCAA Poll to record highest season ending ranking in program history. McIntyre who became the head coach at Syracuse in 2010 belongs on the short list of coaches who have totally turned programs around during the past five seasons. The 2015 season was particularly impressvie because the Orange entered the season with a lot of new faces on the pitch. When McIntyre arrived he immediately began putting in place a solid foundation upon which to build the program. The results of his efforts began to show in the win column in 2012 when the Orange won fourteen games and earned a berth in the NCAA Tourney for the first time since the 1984 season and then advanced to the Sweet Sixteen earning the programs first ever NCAA Tournament wins. In 2013 Syracuse joined the ACC and recorded a 10-7-1 overall record. In 2014 they were 16-4-1 and again advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. In 2015 sophomore midfielder Julian Buescher was named an All-American by both the NSCAA and College Soccer News. Defender Miles Robinson and goalkeeper Hendrik Hilpert were named to the College Soccer News All-Freshman Team.


Akron -  The Zips had an outstanding season in 2015 during which they had an 18-3-3 overall record and advanced to the College Cup for the first time since 2010. Akron won both the MAC regular season and tournament titles. They were awarded the number four seed in the NCAA Tournament and then topped Rutgers, SMU and Creighton to advance to the Final Four where their season came to an end when fell to eventual national champion Stanford 8 to 7 in a penalty kick shootout after the game was tied 0-0 at the end of 110 minutes of play.  Junior midfieder Adam Najem was named an All-American by both the NSCAA and College Soccer News. Najem, sophomores Sam Gainford, Stuart Holthusen, Richie Laryea and junior Brad Rhaak and senior Andrew Souders were named to the All-MAC First Team.  Akron along with Indiana, Maryland, UCLA and Virginia are the only five teams to have earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the past nine seasons. Akron is 48-13-6 in the three seasons that Jared Embick has been the head coach of the program.  


Wake Forest - Wow. The Demon Deacons had a teriffic season going 17-3-2 overall with a 6-0-2 mark in Atlantic Coast Conference play.  The Deacons were awarded the number one seed in the NCAA Tournament and fell one win shy of the College Cup when they lost a 2-1 heartbreaker in overtime to eventual national champion Stanford in the Elite Eight. Wake Forest had as many if not more signature victories than any team in the country in 2015 with wins over the likes of Syracuse, Akron, Boston College, South Carolina, North Carolina, Charlotte and Indiana. Coach Bobby Muuss was named the ACC Coach of the Year in his first season as the Demon Deacon head coach. Muuss and his staff did an excellent job of putting all the pieces together to form a unified and focused team in 2015 on both sides of the ball.  Midfielder Jack Harrison was named the ACC Offensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year. Teammates midfielders Ian Harkes and Jacori Hayes joined Harrison as All-ACC First Team selections while senior forward Michael Gamble and redshirt-junior goalkeeper Alec Ferrell were named to the All-ACC Second Team. Harrison, Gamble, Harkes and Hayes were all named to the NSCAA All-South Region Team while Harrison, who elected to forgo his final three seasons at Wake Forest to enter the professional ranks via a Generation adidas contract, was also named a First Team All-American by the NSCAA and College Soccer News. This is a program with a lot of good things going for it including momemtum. It is noteworthy that Wake Forest was the top team in the country in attendance in 2015 with an average of 2,720 fans on hand at Spry Stadium to witness and contrubute to the success the program enjoyed. It is also noteworthy that Gamble and Philip Parker were the only two seniors on the 2015 roster.  Stay tuned for what what has all the makings of another special season in 2016. 


Seattle University - Record breaking might be the two best words to describe Seattle's season in 2016. The Redhawks took another big step forward with an 18-4-1 overall record that established that this is a program that is for real with many more good things likely to come. The Redhawks had signature wins over Santa Clara, Washington, Oregon State, UNLV, Utah Valley and UCLA. Seattle won the Western Athletic Conference regular seaosn and tournament titles to earn the program's second spot in the NCAA Tourney. They were subsequently awarded the number eleven seed in the NCAA Tourney and topped UCLA 1-0 to advance to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in the Division I history of the program. Sophomore forward David Olsen and junior defender Kyle Bjornethun who was the WAC Defensive Player of the Year were named 2015 All-Americans by both the NSCAA and College Soccer News. Midfielder Sergio Rivas was named the WAC Freshman of the Year. Pete Fewing was honored as the WAC Coach of the Year as well as the NSCAA West Regional Coach of the Year. Seattle was ranked as the number eleven team in the nation in the final College Soccer News Season Ending poll and as the number twelve team in the country in the final NSCAA poll. Seniors Michael Roberts, Shane Haworth, Hamza Haddadi, and Austin Sweeney leave Seattle with the legacy taking the program to a higher level during their tenure as a Redhawk.   


Denver - What a season. The Pioneers won the Summit League regular season and tournament titles and were the only undefeated team in the country heading into postseason play. They were awarded the number thirteen seed in the NCAA Tournament and hosted an NCAA Tournament game for the first time in the history of the program. Denver finished the 2015 season with a 15-1-3 overall record and were ranked as the number sixteen team in the country in the season ending College Soccer News poll and the number seventeen team in the final NSCAA poll. Back Reagan Dunk was named the Summit League Defensive Player of the Year and became the first player in the D1 one history of the program to be named an NSCAA and College Soccer News All-American. Jamie Franks was named the Summit League Coach of the Year, Dan Jackson was named the Summit League Goalkeeper of the Year and Andre Shinyashiki was named the League Freshman of the Year.  No first year head coach in the country had a more productive season in 2015 than Denver's Jamie Franks. Jackson and defensive midfielder Jordan Schwitzer were the only two seniors on the 2015 roster so the likelihood of even greater accomplishments in the future looks pretty good. Franks summed it up well when he stated, "The program will be stronger from all the results we had.".  


North Florida - The standard of excellence was forever raised at North Florida in 2015. The Ospreys had their first ten win season since beginning Division I play in 2005. They won their first ever Atlantic Sun Conference regular season title with a 4-0-1 mark in league play. The Ospreys also won their first ever Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament Championship topping USC Upstate 7-0 in the tourney final to secure their first ever berth in the NCAA Tournament. Derek Marinatos was named the 2015 Atlantic Sun Conference Co-Coach of the Year. Defender Jay Bolt, midfielder Alex Morrell and forward Helge Pietschman were named First Team All-Atlantic Sun Conference. Goalkeeper Kyle Nasta, defender Simen Solstad, and midfielder Josh Castellanos and forward Milan Kovacs were named Second Team All-Conference selections. Midfielder Ivan Castro was named to the Atlantic Sun All-Freshman Team.  Pietschman, Morrell and Nasta were NSCAA All-Southeast Region Second Team selections. 


Radford - The Highlanders under the direction of Marc Reeves had a banner season in 2015 in which they were 14-4-2 overall and returned to the NCAA Tournament field for the first time since the 2000 season. The berth in the tourney was Radford's first NCAA at-large invite in the history of the program and they became only the second team in Radford history to earn an at-large berth.  The Highlanders went 7-1-1 in Big South Conference play to secure their second consecutive regular season Big South championship and their sixth in program history. Defender Daniel O'Keefe became the first player in Radford history to be named the Big South Defensive Player of the Year.  He was also named to the NSCAA All-South Region First Team. Defender Jo Vetle Rimstad was named to the NSCAA All-South Region Second Team. Goalkeeper Aitor Pouseu Blanco, midfielder Jamie Summers and forward Sivert Daehlie who was named the Big South Freshman of the Year were NSCAA All-South Region Third Team selections. O'Keefe, Daehlie, and Summers were all All-Big South First Team selections.   


SMU - The Mustangs exceeded expectations in 2015 under the guidance of first year head coach Kevin Hudson. It was a season that will set the pace for seasons to come under Hudson. SMU won the AAC regular season title with a 7-0-1 mark in regular season conference play. They earned an at-large berth in the NCAA Tourney to earn a spot in the tournament for the 18th time in the past 22 years. They then topped Utah Valley in the first round and upset number 13 seeded Denver in the second round before losing to Akron 2-1 in the Sweet Sixteen to close out a very successful season with a 15-3-4 overall record. Mauro Cichero was named an All-American by both the NSCAA and College Soccer News. Cichero was also named the AAC Offensive Player of the Year. MIchael Nelson was named the AAC Goalkeeper of the Year. John Lujano was named the AAC Midfielder of the Year. Kevin Hudson and his staff were named the ACC Coaching Staff of the Year. Nelson, Cichero and Lujano were All-AAC First Team selections.


Santa Clara - The Broncos returned to prominance on the national scene in 2015. After beginning the season with a 1-4-0 record and a loss to San Francisco in their first West Coast Conference game they rebounded to finish the season with a 11-8-1 overall record and a 5-1-1 mark in West Coast Conference play. Cameron Rast stated, "Any time this team had its back against the wall, they were able to focus and be sharp." Santa Clara finished the season on a six-match unbeaten streak to claim their 12th WCC title on the final day of the regular season. The Broncos returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2010 season and defeated Cal State Fullerton in the first round 3-0 to secure their first win in NCAA Tournament play since the 2007 campaign. This was a season that bodes well for the future of the program. Rast stated, "This is just a starting point for us with a lot of young guys at key positions coming back." He added, "Our senior five (Dylan Autran, Alfred Edmonds, Matt Escobar, Kendall McIntosh, Max Ornstil) were fantastic this year when it mattered most. A great credit to them for everything they gave to our program." Sophomore forward Delgadillo was named to the NSCAA All-Far West First Team and goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh was named to the NSCAA All-Far West Third Team. Rast was named the WCC Coach of the Year. Delgadillo and sophomore defender Valedar Anderson were named to the All-WCC First Team. McIntosh and senior midfielder Max Ornstill were named to the WCC All-WCC Second Team.  McIntosh was also named the Co-WCC Goalkeeper of the Year and defender Luis Urias was named the WCC Freshman of the Year.


FIU - The Panthers finished the 2015 season with their best record in over eleven years. Under the direction of Scott Calabrese, who was in his second season as the head coach at FIU, the Panthers were 12-7-1, finished regular season play with a record above .500 for the first time since the 2005 season, won the 2015 CUSA title by defeating ODU, Kentucky and Marshall in the conference tournament, and returned to the NCAA Tournament field for the first time since the 2004 season. Calabrese was named the NSCAA Southeast Region Coach of the Year and the CUSA Co-Coach of the Year. Junior defender Marvin Hezel was an NSCAA All-Southeast Region First Team selection. Senior midfielder Daniel Gonzalez and junior forward Luis Betancur were All-Southeast Region Second Team selections. Henzel was a CUSA First Team selection. Gonzalez was a CUSA Second Team selection as was midfielder Ismael Longo and Betancur. The 2015 season was a difference maker at FIU and one that provides a springboard for even greater success in the future.  


Hofstra - The Pride won the CAA regular season and tournament titles and earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time overall and the first time since 2006. The Pride then topped Lehigh 2-1 in the first round of the NCAA Tourney before falling to Georgetown 3-0 in the second round to conclude a very special season. Richard Nuttall was named the CAA Coach of the Year.   Junior midfielder Joseph Holland was named an NSCAA All-American after a season in which he powered the Hofstra attack with eight goals and nine assists. Holland was also named the CAA Player of the Year and a First Team All-CAA member along with junior defender Harri Hawkins. Senior goalkeeper Patrick Pray was named an All-CAA Second Team selection.  Hofstra concluded the season with a 14-8-0 overall record with a 6-2-0 mark in CAA play.  They were ranked as the number twenty-two team in the country in the College Soccer News season ending poll.


Drake - Resilient and determined were words that could be used to describe Drake in 2015 particularly down the home stretch under first year head coach Gareth Smith. The Bulldogs finished strong winning three contests in five days, shutting out Central Arkansas, Bradley, and host SIUE, to win the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament to earn the program's third overall invite to the NCAA Tournament and first since the 2009 season. Smith stated, "Great teams find a way to win regardless of the obstacles such as injuries and three consecutive games and that is what these young men have done." The Bulldogs then upset Kentucky on the road 2-1 behind goals from senior defender Alec Bartlett and redshirt junior James Grunet in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before losing in the second round to Creighton in Omaha to conclude a gutsy season with a 13-5-3 overall record. The thirteen wins were the most for the program in a single season since the 2009 campaign. The Bulldogs were ranked as the number twenty-four team in the country in the College Soccer News season ending national poll. Bartlett, junior forward Mueng Sunday, and junior midfielder James Wypych were named to the All-MVC First Team. Sunday and Wypych were also NSCAA All-West Region First Team selections. It was a season that Smith and the Drake players will look back upon with fond memories and one which should provide momentum for the future.  


Elon - This is a program that has enjoyed its share of success in the past but nonetheless they belong on the short list of teams that significantly exceeded expectations in 2015 with fourteen wins, a share of the CAA regular season title, and a multi-week stay in the top twenty in most national polls. The Phoenix gained attention on the national scene and rocketed upward in the polls when they began the 2015 campaign with a 7-0-0 mark that included a signature win over highly regarded Wake Forest on the road. Elon was subsequently awarded an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament and topped Winthrop in the first round of play before losing to Clemson at Clemson in the second round to conclude the year with a 14-6-1 overall record.  A very good showing for a team that was picked to finish in the number five spot in the CAA race in the conference's preseason poll.  Second year head coach Chris Little was recognized by the NSCAA as the Midwest Region Coach of the Year. Senior Nathan Diehl was named the CAA Defender of the Year and an All-CAA First Team selection. Seniors James Brace and Miguel Salazar were also named to the All-CAA First Team. It was a bit of an up and down season but all things considered the Phoenix soared in 2015.