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Women's soccer / NCAA Final Four
« on: Yesterday at 06:59:46 pm »
I'm surprised there are no threads here on the Final Four this weekend, so I decided to start one on the off-hand chance someone is reading this board for any info on the teams involved.  The LA Times ran a full-length story on Cal Lutheran's women's soccer team and its run to the first final four in its history yesterday (I'm guessing no other major national newspaper has a story on the DIII soccer final four for either the men or the women).  Cal Lutheran plays Tufts Thursday while Wash U. plays Messiah.  Here's a link with some quotes.

CLU, unranked in the latest United Soccer Coaches national top 25, faces Tufts (11-5-4) in the national semifinals in Salem, Va. And if the Regals get past that, they’ll face the winner of the other semifinal between second-ranked Washington University (17-1-3) and Messiah (21-2-0), a six-time Division III champion, in Saturday’s title game.

It wasn’t a fluke. At 18-1-5, this year’s team is the best in school history. The Regals outscored opponents 43-12 and posted 14 shutouts. The only loss was a 1-0 result against Pomona-Pitzer in the SCIAC tournament final, one they reversed in the second round of the NCAAs before upsetting unbeaten and top-ranked Christopher Newport University on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals.

Men's soccer / Conference Preseason Coaches Polls
« on: August 18, 2023, 11:37:29 am »
Rather than clutter up the USC rankings thread, which will become useful later in the year, I created a thread just for the preseason conference coaches polls

American Rivers Conference

2023 Men's Soccer A-R-C Preseason Coaches' Poll
Rank | School (1st Place Votes) | Points | 2022 Record (Overall, A-R-C)

1. Loras (5) | 59 | 10-6-2, 5-1-2 (Regular Season Conference Champions)
2. Luther (3) | 55 | 12-4-5, 4-0-4 (Tournament Champions)
3. Wartburg | 46 | 7-2-9, 3-0-5
T-4. Nebraska Wesleyan (1) | 40 | 7-8-3, 4-2-2
T-4. Simpson | 40 | 12-4-3, 4-1-3
6. Dubuque | 34 | 8-7-4, 3-2-3
7. Central | 25 | 3-11-2, 2-5-1
8. Coe | 16 | 2-14-1, 1-7
9. Buena Vista | 9 | 0-15-2, 0-8

Men's soccer / Top D3 Men's Soccer Rivalries
« on: July 29, 2023, 08:43:55 pm »
This site ranked the top D3 Rivalries.  I have no idea what criteria they used, but it's presumably based upon all sports and includes both men's and women's sports.

Calvin v. Hope
Hampden-Sydney v. Randolph-Macon
Augsburg v. Watburg
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps v. Pomona-Pitzer
Ithaca v. Suny Cortland
Wittenberg v. Wooster

What would be your top D3 men's soccer rivalries?  Here's a stab at a few good ones based on different criteria.

Claremont-Mudd-Scripps v. Pomona-Pitzer (the closest? - they are literally across the street, hence the Sixth Street Rivalry name)

Haverford v. Swarthmore (The oldest?  They first started playing against each other in 1919.  Also might be the friendliest rivalry - what else for two schools with Quaker - or Society of Friends - roots?  )

Amherst v. ? (the most popular rival? Amherst seems to be like the Yankees.  A lot of teams - e.g., Tufts, Bowdoin etc -- call them rivals based on a Google search, but it seems like Amherst mostly considers Williams their rivals)

Kenyon v. Ohio Wesleyan (The @PaulNewman rivalry - but long before him, my brother, a Kenyon player in the 1970s, maintained that they were the fiercest of rivals, even though OWU mostly had their number in those days)


Men's soccer / High School Soccer
« on: June 11, 2023, 01:10:56 pm »
For those who haven't had a chance to listen to Simple Coach's new podcast "Injury Report," ( he probably provides the best case FOR high school soccer (as opposed to simply why it isn't that bad for those who want the social experience) that I've seen or heard. 

If there is a flaw in his positive case, it is probably that high school is too local to make certain broad claims about it. SC is generalizing from one type of HS experience that is not universal.  For example, at many schools, very few students OR parents are watching most games, which happen right after school when other activities are occurring and parents are at work (and both parents have to work and not at jobs where they have the ability to leave early for a kids' game).  Moreover, I know a lot of high schools that play at fields that don't even have bleachers for people to watch, let alone have 1000 people in attendance.  This is particularly true in a lot of inner city schools that don't have fields attached to their school (they play in a local park) and in school programs like charters and magnets where the school has no real connection to any particular community (so families live all in opposite directions).  No one is walking down the halls and holding the players accountable for their play at the last game in those schools.  Even the critique of the waiver option, which is a very valid point, is more local than national.  It sounds like in SC's area, waivers are granted pretty freely.  In other areas, however, where the supply of top players is high and the demand for MLS Next spots is strong, clubs won't even consider a player who wants a HS waiver or they tell them they can't promise they will still have a spot when they come back.  They can do that because most of those players want to go pro and they don't care much about HS. 

But I think SC's broader claim is that MLS Next shouldn't prohibit HS play for those who want it and have a school where it is a reasonable option.  That raises the question of why that matters given that I know of no MSL Next team in a place where there are no other options (ECNL or local/regional competitive play).  MLS Next simply couldn't exist without a robust enough population and club ecosystem to develop the kids before they are eligible for the MLS Next level.  So, the issue really isn't whether MLS Next should prohibit HS play since players have choices to play in plenty of competitive leagues that allow HS play.  Rather, the issue is people want to play in HS AND play MLS Next, rather than be forced to choose.   But, of course, life is full of choices.

SC implicitly responds by making the positive case that prohibiting HS is bad for MLS (rather than just unfair to the player to force them to choose) because HS play produces better players and MLS Next hasn't exactly been a pipeline to the pros.  I actually disagree with that latter point, but for reasons that are consistent with SC's views.  I think MLS Next has done a great job of identifying players that MLS Academies sign and Academies are producing more strong players who are getting time in the US and Europe than ever before.  You can argue whether those players are as good as they would have been with HS play (which SC explains well), but MLS will be satisfied if a few of those players are and they don't care much about the rest. 

Where I think SC is probably right is that many (not all) players aren't as prepared for college if they play MLS Next and not any HS play.  The average player is getting pristine field conditions (almost exclusively turf), the best refs, and being managed by coaches who are supposed to be really strong in MLS Next.  MLS Next actually sends site supervisors to observe games to make sure the fields are pristine and other conditions are met so the players won't have to grapple with the problems of bad fields (especially to garner a competitive advantage).  I'm not sure that the play is all robotic though.  If you go to national MLS Next events, you do see different styles of play from teams around the country that reflect cultural and even physical differences.  Nevertheless, SC is certainly right that you don't have as many teams that are trying to bunker, foul to disrupt, and play to win on the counter-attack.  MLS Next officials will even contact coaching staffs if they see that too much in national events because they believe that every player should be developed to solve those problems tactically and technically and not adopt a cynical approach from the get-go.  The problem is that this is absolutely part of the pro game (as we've seen in the Champions League and elsewhere) and it is certainly part of the college game too.

One interesting thing is whether D3 coaches agree with SC.  Coaches always want the best quality players, and they differ on the intangibles where they have a choice.  So, if the best players are gravitating to MLS Next, then coaches will too.  Nevertheless, I wonder if some of the variability reflects differences in opinion over the value of HS soccer.  I see some college commitment announcements that are heavily MLS Next players, others that are heavily prep school players (who also play MLS Next on waivers or because their MLS Next team is the HS team, like in Shattuck St. Mary's or IMG/Barca academies), and others that come from a lot of strong HS programs and mention those rather than their clubs in the announcements.

General Division III issues / Sports gambling by DIII athletes
« on: May 09, 2023, 12:56:18 pm »
I'm sure many of you have read about the scandal at the University of Iowa regarding athletes found to be betting on sports.  As this story ( states, the NCAA still has a complete ban on sports gambling

NCAA rules prohibit athletes, coaches and staff from betting on amateur, collegiate and professional sports in which the NCAA conducts a championship. For example, athletes cannot bet on NFL games even if state laws would legally allow them to if they weren't competing under NCAA rules.

Do D3 players get much instruction, if any, from school or NCAA compliance offices about the rules regarding sports gambling?  According to this tweet, an NCAA survey in 2016 found that 24% of men (and 5% of women) admitted to wagering on sports in the past year, but the percentages were actually higher for D3 athletes (27%) than D2 (23%) and DI (17%).

My guess is that D3 athletes are the least likely to get much education, if any, about the rules against sports gambling.  It's not like NCAA compliance departments in D3 are anywhere close to the size of those in D1 and especially the Power 5 conferences and I assume many D3 athletes feel like they are under the radar because they don't get athletic scholarships.  If 27% of D3 male athletes were wagering on sports in 2016, I would expect the numbers to be higher now with the passage of legalized sports gambling in most states across the country. Even if the student-athlete handbooks indicated that sports wagering was prohibited, some students would still assume that doesn't apply to legal gambling or would only apply to college sports or something like that.

I could be wrong, though.  Perhaps D3 programs have stepped up efforts to warn their athletes not to gamble on sports.  Anybody have any insight on this?

Men's soccer / Goalkeeper "shenanigans" on PKs
« on: March 29, 2023, 03:58:28 pm »
Last fall, @paulnewman posted this on the Mid-Atlantic Region thread (in an off-topic reaction to a situation where the starting GK was subbed out for a "PK specialist" backup GK):

A little off topic but I've been meaning to ask the GK experts (SC, Hop92, Kuiper, CSO, etc) here....

What is your opinion of the shenanigans and gamesmanship that GKs so often engage in during PKs and especially PK shootouts?  Trying to be the person who hands the ball to the next shooter, coming way out to "show big" until the ref tells them to get on the line, hanging from the bar so it shakes, and all the other tricks?  I also get annoyed with refs who don't pay attention and let a lot of this go.  Anyway, I noticed that the JHU sub GK did the "show big" routine standing 3-5 yards in front of the PK takers for Muhlenberg.

I'll add that, while didn't turn out this way with Muhlenberg, that the "show big' maneuver feels very effective at least from an observer pov.

It turns out that the IFAB agrees, changing Law 14 to add the following text (they were never permitted to touch the goalposts, crossbar or net):

The goalkeeper must not behave in a way that unfairly distracts the kicker, e.g. delay the taking of the kick or touch the
goalposts, crossbar or goal net.

We'll see whether and how refs interpret and enforce the new language, since "unfairly distracts" is a bit vague. 

Men's soccer / Merger of UEC and CSAC
« on: December 29, 2022, 12:00:58 pm »
I didn't see this posted anywhere in the soccer boards and because it crosses over regions, I thought it made sense to start a new topic:

Looks like the merger of the United East Conference and the Colonial States Athletic Conference will be for all sports in Fall 2023.

Both conferences have 8 schools in men's soccer:  UEC (St, Mary's (MD), Penn State Harrisburg, Lancaster Bible, Penn State Abbington, Penn College, Morrisville State, Gaullaudet, Wells) and CSAC (Rosemont, Cairn, Keystone, Saint Elizabeth, Clark's Summit, Wilson, Bryn Athyn, and Valley Forge).

16 schools would be a pretty big conference and it would reduce automatic bids by one for these teams in men's soccer, but Wells and Morrisville State have already announced they are leaving the UEC and I'm sure they are already worried about more conference realignment and even schools dropping sports or going out of existence.

Men's soccer / Final Top 25 Rankings
« on: December 08, 2022, 12:23:44 pm »

December 6, 2022 Men's Top 25, Final

Through games of Sunday, December 4, 2022
#    School (1st Pl. Votes)    Record    Pts.    Prev.
1    Chicago (21)                   22-0-1    1000    2
2    Stevens                           17-1-5    918    4
3    Messiah                           20-0-2    848    1
4    Kenyon                           19-2-1    825    5
5    Williams                           10-2-11    813    —
6    Amherst                           14-1-6    771    3
7    Mary Washington           13-5-4    747    25
8    Johns Hopkins           15-1-8    710    13
9    Bowdoin                           13-2-5    678    8
10    Gustavus Adolphus         15-2-6    661    10
11    Washington & Lee           16-3-4    555    9
12    Oneonta State           15-3-3    450    19
13    Calvin                           17-3-2    430    6
14    North Central (Ill.)           17-1-4    426    7
15    St. Thomas (Tx.)           16-2-3    402    18
16    St. Olaf                           15-5-2    397    —
17    North Park                   15-3-3    346    15
18    Franklin & Marshall           13-2-5    298    14
19    Ohio Northern           13-4-5    272    —
20    Cortland State           13-6-3    252    —
21    Babson                           15-3-3    203    11
22    Catholic                           13-4-4    193    —
23    Chris. Newport           13-4-2    189    16
24    Montclair State           15-2-4    165    12
25    St. Lawrence                   13-2-6    149    20

Dropped out: No. 17 Western Conn., No. 21 Middlebury, No. 22 Pacific Lutheran, No. 23 Tufts, No. 24 John Carroll

Receiving Votes: Western Conn. 131, UW-Eau Claire 122, Pacific Lutheran 58, Rowan 51, Middlebury 46, John Carroll 46, Ohio Wesleyan 32, Luther 30, Tufts 25, New York Univ. 23, Willamette 19, Occidental 6

The Top 25 is voted on by a panel of coaches, Sports Informa

I thought this deserved it’s own thread because hazing is a potential issue at all sports programs and many of you won’t pay much attention to a post in the Go West thread.

Claremont-Mudd-Scripps announced this week they were cancelling the rest of the men’s soccer team’s season because of a hazing incident

“The investigation found that nearly all members of the team, acting as a team, violated multiple conduct standards, including organizing and carrying out an event which subjected new team members to multiple acts of hazing.”

This is a real stain on the men’s soccer program and its players.  My guess is hazing is still a pervasive problem in sports, whether D1 or D3, and they were just caught by an administration that took their policies seriously.  I’m sure the old-timers on the board can tell us whether this kind of thing has cancelled a season before.  I hope no one was hurt.

Men's soccer / USC Rankings
« on: August 02, 2022, 03:27:57 pm »
Pre-Season Rankings are out for DIII Men's Soccer.  Surprises?

National - Pre-season Poll - August 2, 2022
Rank    School    Prev    W-L-T
1    Connecticut College    1    19-4-2
2    Amherst College    2    17-3-2
3    Washington & Lee University    3    18-2-2
4    University Of Chicago    4    16-6-1
5    Messiah University    5    19-2-2
6    Tufts University    6    15-2-4
7    North Park University    7    16-6-0
8    Middlebury College    8    13-5-3
9    Calvin University    9    17-4-2
10    SUNY Cortland    10    18-3-1
11    Christopher Newport University    11    12-5-2
12    University of Redlands    12    17-3-1
13    Trinity University (Texas)    13    14-2-2
14    Washington College (Md.)    14    15-5-1
15    St. Olaf College    15    19-3-1
16    John Carroll University    16    14-4-2
17    Kenyon College    17    16-3-1
18    Hanover College    18    16-5-1
19    Franklin & Marshall College    19    15-4-1
20    Washington University (Mo.)    20    13-3-1
21    Ohio Wesleyan University    21    15-3-2
22    Emory University    22    9-4-5
23    Montclair State University    23    17-4-1
24    Otterbein University    24    15-2-4
25    Stevens Institute Of Technology    25    13-6-3

Records shown are final 2021 records.

Also receiving votes: New York University, Johns Hopkins University, Rowan University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Claremont-McKenna-Harvey Mudd-Scripps Colleges, Kean University, Pacific Lutheran University, Gustavus Adolphus College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Men's soccer / Spring Practices
« on: July 20, 2022, 04:47:57 pm »
Before Summer ends and fall practices began, I thought I would raise a topic about spring practices (outside the context of the 21st Century Model proposal or anything like that).  One of the major structural distinctions between D1 and D3 soccer is the amount of time you can devote to spring practices and games.  I think D3 schools can now hold 15 practice days, one of which can include games (and many schools have multiple games on that day to get everyone playing time), as compared with something like 45 days and 5-6 games in D1.  Both of these, of course, are a sharp difference from what many of these kids are used to in their clubs, where they often play close to year-round with shorter breaks interspersed throughout rather than going large periods of time without the sport.  With field houses and futsal facilities, soccer can be year-round almost anywhere.

My understanding, however, is that NESCAC prohibits its soccer teams from playing in the Spring.  Is that just games or any coach-organized practices or games?  If the latter, do captain's practices fill the void for players who are available or does space and weather make it largely impossible to do much more than strength and conditioning + some late night futsal at some or most of the schools?  I know there are some advantages to this policy for purposes of enabling internships and study abroad opportunities, and it certainly hasn't hurt NESCAC schools in terms of competitive success in the NCAA tourney, but I'm just trying to get the lay of the land.

Do other schools/leagues refrain from any organized spring practices? 

Conversely, are some D3 schools known for having a particularly strong spring program and/or a culture and history of well-organized captain's practices when coaches cannot be there, including the facilities to support it without battling other sports?  What do those practices look like in terms of frequency/length etc?

Men's soccer / Reserve Teams
« on: May 31, 2022, 01:37:27 pm »
University of Mary-Hardin Baylor just promoted their assistant coach to head coach (the HC was promoted to Assoc. AD) and the story mentioned that the assistant coach had been HC of the reserve team.

Curious, I checked the website, and to their credit, they are pretty open about their reserve team, even posting a schedule with results (  They played a small number of games against a mix of club teams and others.

On the one hand, I applaud the creation of a reserve team. If the university is going to mandate that coaches increase the size of their rosters, they should at least schedule a few games so those kids can actually play some. It might not be more than a more organized version of college club soccer, but it's better than sitting on the bench the whole season.

On the other hand, the existence of a reserve team should set off some red flags in a recruit's mind because it may be an admission that a large set of kids will never play.

The biggest concern, though, is about transparency or lack thereof.  I rarely see a reserve team mentioned on a team's website. Any idea how many D3 schools have them? Is it that they are really uncommon or are teams kind of hiding that fact until later? If the latter, are they at least transparent in recruiting about it and do recruits know when they are likely to play only on the reserve team? Are they used as legitimate stepping stones to develop freshman and others until they are ready to play in Soph or Junior year or are they basically permanent homes for players who they know will never play?  The former makes sense. The latter seems problematic without adequate disclosure.

Men's soccer / Why so few D3 colleges in the Western half of the U.S.?
« on: April 05, 2022, 01:24:35 pm »
This isn't a topic limited to men's soccer, but it certainly affects men's soccer.  I knew that there weren't many colleges participating in D3 in the western half of the U.S., but this map posted by NCAA Research really drove home the limited reach of D3 sports.  It's largely located in the east and mostly the north eastern quadrant of the U.S. with a smattering of schools in the southeast and Texas and only a few clustered around Los Angeles and Portland.

Why is that?  A couple of possible background reasons:

- Fewer schools overall in the west and fewer small liberal arts colleges, which are the traditional homes of D3 sports.  Most of the west has large land grant state colleges, while the small colleges dotting the east and upper midwest were often started by religious groups etc before much of the population shifted west and south.

- Path dependence - because there are fewer D3 schools, other small schools don't have any travel partners nearby and therefore D1, D2 or NAIA may provide more opportunities

This can't be the whole answer, though.  Although there are fewer schools in the west, there are many more schools in the west sponsoring sports in NAIA than in D3.  For example, there are 19 NAIA schools in California, including a UC state school (UC Merced), 15 in Kansas, 13 in Texas, 8 in Nebraska, 8 in Oklahoma, 7 in Oregon, 6 in Montana, 5 in Arizona, 4 in South Dakota, 4 in North Dakota, 3 in Washington. Why did they all go NAIA and not D3?

Is there anything about D3 and its rules, though, that makes it unattractive to, or difficult to obtain by, schools in the west?

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