DMV NCAA Soccer: 2017 Review and 2018 Preview
It was an exciting college soccer season in 2017 here in the DMV, with plenty to be excited about heading into next year. We’ll also have a new Division I program, Mount Saint Mary’s, competing in the DMV in Fall of 2018.
DMV Tournament Teams
University of Maryland was eliminated in the first round of the NCAA Tournament when they lost in PK’s to a tough University of Albany team, behind an outstanding performance by Albany goalkeeper Danny Vitiello.
There is little doubt that Coach Sasho Cirovski and his squad will be looking to come back stronger next season, and make a return to the College Cup. Graduating seniors include starters Jake Rozhansky and George Campbell, but the good news is that the Terps will be coming into next season with another year of experience under their belts, using the devastating tourney loss at home as motivation. The team is stacked with juniors like Eryk Williamson, Sebastian Elney, Amar Sejdic, Gordon Wild, the list goes on. Donovan Pines and Dayne St Clair will come back even stronger, and the Terps have a pretty decent recruiting class coming in which includes locals Justin Gielen (a dynamic forward from DeMatha who has professional ambitions), as well as defenders Nick Richardson who has been in the u-17 National Team mix and won last year’s Gatorade National Player of the Year…as only a junior…as well as defender Brett Saint Martin, who was voted All-State, All-American, All-Everything. All three players are on Coach Barry Stitz‘s Baltimore Celtic 2000 team, who compete at every level and are one of the best teams in the country.
Georgetown had another successful season under head coach Brian Wiese, winning the Big East Championship and earning a first-round NCAA Tournament bye. The Hoyas lost a heart-breaker at home to SMU in the NCAA tourney with only FOURTEEN seconds left in double overtime, but have an extremely young roster more than capable of returning to national prominence next season, highlighted by Junior standout goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski, who was outstanding all season for the Hoyas and seems destined to be a big-time professional goalkeeper once his playing days are over with Georgetown.
VCU was this season’s DMV Cinderella story, beating Maryland at Maryland 3-0 in the regular season, beating Rhode Island twice, and earning a first-round bye in the NCAA Tournament. It was the third NCAA Tournament appearance under 8th-year head coach Dave Giffard, who continues to establish himself as one of the top NCAA Soccer coaches in the country, looking to continue to build the Rams into national contention again next season.
UVA finished the season in the Top 10 in National rankings and will likely come back strong next year like they always do, earning a first-round bye in this year’s NCAA Tournament and finishing the season with a 12-4-5 record in a very tough ACC Conference. The Cavaliers finished with a 12-3-5 record, losing only 3 games despite being ranked number 9 nationally in the NCAA RPI Rankings. The Cavaliers’ Head Coach George Gelnovatch will enter his 23rd season in 2018, and 2017 was his TWENTY SECOND straight NCAA Tournament appearance, an NCAA record.
ODU won Conference USA, won their first-round NCAA Tournament game against NC State, and have a young nucleus in place highlighted by freshman standout midfielder Brandon Purdue. The Monarchs finished with a 13-6-2 record, were ranked 28th in RPI Rankings, and will look to return to the NCAA Tournament for a seventh time in the past nine seasons under head coach Alan Dawson, who has served as ODU’s Head Coach for 21 seasons, making the NCAA Tournament 12 times since taking over in 1997.
William and Mary won the CAA Conference Title and also made the NCAA Tournament, led by Junior striking sensation Antonio Bustamante, who finished the season with 15 goals and 5 assists, and scored FOUR goals in William and Mary’s CAA Quarterfinal game vs Hofstra.
And Virginia Tech also made the NCAA Tournement after a successful season in a tough ACC conference, beating Air Force in the first round before eventually bowing out to Michigan State in the second round.
In total, SEVEN teams from the DC/MD/VA area made the NCAA tournament in 2017, but the prospect of even more teams from the area competing for a spot next season is just as exciting.
Looking to Compete for an NCAA Tournament Spot Next Season
George Washington finished with a 9-7-2 record this season, competing in the Atlantic-10 conference. Freshmen Oscar Haynes Brown, Brady O’Connor, Simon Fitch, and Peirce Williams all got valuable minutes this season, and look to take the next step next year as head coach Craig Jones and his coaching staff continue recruiting efforts as they look to continue to build a competitive program in DC.
UMBC competed with a number of teams who made the tournament this season, beating Maryland at home, beating New Hampshire, and beating Albany in the regular season before losing to them in the conference tournament. The Retrievers graduate a few key seniors this year with starters Gregg Hauck, Cormac Noel, Tom Paul, and Sammy Kahsai all making way for younger players to step up next season. Matt Bailey and goalkeeper Ciaran O’Loughlin were both voted to America East All-Rookie team, and with U-17 National Team goalkeeper Quantrell Jones committed to UMBC for next season, the competition every day in training for Coach Pete Caringi’s Retrievers will start from the goal and hopefully work it’s way throughout the rest of the team, as UMBC look for players like Bailey, Tre Pulliam, Tre McCalla, Patrick Jean-Gilles, David Harris, and James Gielen looking to replace the goals that they’ll be losing with Kahsai moving on.
Loyola missed out on an NCAA Tournament spot despite playing an exciting brand of soccer all season. Steve Nichols‘ Greyhounds will come back even stronger next season, with a good young talented squad. Freshman Goalkeeper Chase Vosvick made First-Team Northeast Regional Team as a freshman, as well as Patriot League Rookie of the Year and Goalkeeper of the Year. Sophomore Brian Saramago will look to stay healthy in 2018 after being voted First-Team All-Patriot League, and the amount of talent that Coach Nichols has at his disposal next season with guys like Barry Sharifi, Nico Brown, Sam Brown, Josh Fawole, as well as standout incoming center back Jake Dengler, who (last I heard) was set to transfer to Loyola from CCBC-Essex for next season, should see the Greyhounds be in the Nationally-ranked conversation next year.
George Mason, who were receiving votes for National Top 25 at the beginning of the season, will look to bounce back next year with a revamped squad after they graduate six seniors this season and 1 graduate student. One of the graduating seniors are leading scorer Henning Dirks, who scored 10 goals and added 7 assists this season. The Patriots finished with a 5-9-2 record but are very well coached under Head Coach Greg Andrulis, who will be looking to build on this season heading into 2018.
James Madison, who I thought looked very balanced at the beginning of the season, finished the season with a 9-7-3 record but earned some victories against quality opponents this season. They beat William and Mary 4-3 in regular season (before losing to them in Conference Championship Semifinal), beat 15th-ranked UNC Wilmington 2-0, and also defeated an FIU team in preseason who ended up going on to second round of NCAA Tournament before losing to Duke. JMU is only graduating one senior this season, and have a good core group of young players returning, including sophomore midfielder Manuel Ferriol who led the team in scoring with 7 goals, as well as midfielder Ben Dao.
Navy, for as much as we wrote about them in the offseason, were bound to have another difficult season ahead of them as Coach Tim O’Donohue and his coaching staff continue to revamp their squad.
The Midshipmen started four freshmen throughout most of the season, with a number of guys getting valuable minutes heading into next year.
Navy’s recruiting class is looking pretty impressive for next season, with TEN high school seniors currently committed to Navy, including local standout center back Tyler Collins from Mount St Joe’s (also a part of Baltimore Celtic 2000 team), Baltimore Armour U18/19 player Jacob Williams (one of the team’s leading scorers), two outstanding young goalkeepers in Tyler Fahning of Minnesota Thunder Academy, and Johan Penaranda who starts for a very talented NYCFC U18/19 USSDA team. A full list of Navy’s verbal commitments:
But what many don’t realize is that the DMV will have ANOTHER division one program competing in the area next season.
Mount Saint Mary’s, located in Emmitsburg, Maryland, has reinstated their Men’s Soccer program and are returning next season after a few years on hiatus. This is a program which had some success under former head coach Rob Ryerson in the early 2000’s, and will compete in the NEC Northeast Conference.
New head coach Bryan Cunningham, who was formerly the Head Coach at UCF, has a reputation for developing MLS-level talent, including three first-round MLS Draft selections in Romario Williams (2015/1st rd/3rd overall pick), Deshorn Brown (2013/1st rd/6thoverall pick) and Hadji Barry (2016/1st rd/13th overall pick), in addition to current US National Team and NYFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson (2010/4th rd).
We had a quick discussion with Coach Cunningham earlier today, and he is more than excited about the quality of players his program has been recruiting ever since this past January when he took over as head coach.
“We’re very lucky to have the full support of the University. The President and Administration are all very serious about athletics here at the Mount, and we’re very excited about the team we’re putting together. Between the incoming freshmen, JuCo transfers, and other guys coming in, we think we’ll not only be competitive next season, but could make a case to become a Top 25 program.”
Coach Cunningham named Trevor Singer as his assistant coach back in August. Coach Singer was formerly an Assistant Coach and Recruiting Coordinator at George Mason, who also spent some time at Temple. He has Academy coaching experience with FC Delco, and also serves as a National Team scout within the Region 1 ODP Program.
I asked Coach Cunningham about what he and his coaching staff thought of the quality of talent here in the DMV area, as they continue their local recruiting efforts which have resulted in verbal commitments from players at clubs like DC United, Baltimore Celtic, SAC, Baltimore Armour, and a host of others.
“In Florida, there were tons of quality players in the area from a host of different backgrounds, so we were lucky to have a lot of quality to choose from. We didn’t really have to leave our home market a ton, and here in the DMV area it’s very similar. The quality of talent here in this area is outstanding.”
Coach Cunningham wasn’t able to shed too much light on next season’s team until National Signing Day, but from what we’ve heard and what he tells us off the record, the prospect of ANOTHER Division 1 program competing in the DMV can only help raise the level of play here in the area.
“In terms of non-Conference games, we’re lining some matches up with top local programs and having discussions with a few teams that should see us with a Top 50 schedule next season. We definitely plan on playing local DMV matches, and are excited to compete in an area with so much talent.”
In terms of what to expect from Mount St Mary’s in Coach Cunningham’s first season, don’t expect them to park the bus every match either.
“We’re going to to attack. We’re not going to stay defensive and grind away to get results. I’d rather go 0-18 and play the right way, then have a winning season sitting in all match. Obviously I don’t expect us to go 0-18 with the amount of speed and athleticism we’ll have next season, but look for us to knock the ball and look to attack from the start”.
2018 NCAA DMV Season
Should Be Exciting
Between the seven teams that made it to the NCAA Tournament this season (Virginia, Georgetown, VCU, Virginia Tech, Maryland, ODU, William and Mary), the teams who competed this past season and look to take the next step in 2018 (Loyola, GW, UMBC), and the teams rebuilding through youth who are looking to play an attacking style of soccer next season (Navy, Mount Saint Mary’s, American U), there is a lot to be excited about heading into Spring NCAA Soccer and leading into next Fall.
Be sure to keep following us on Twitter @dmvsoccerdotcom as we’ll keep you updated on recruiting efforts for all DMV NCAA programs.