College soccer

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College soccer is played by teams composed of soccer players who are enrolled in colleges and universities. While it is most widespread in the United States, it is also prominent in South Korea and Canada. The institutions typically hire full-time professional coaches and staff, although the student athletes are strictly amateur and are not paid. College soccer in the United States is sponsored by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the sports regulatory body for major universities, and by the governing bodies for smaller universities and colleges. This sport is played on a rectangular field of the dimensions of about 64m (meters) - 70m sideline to sideline (width), and 100m - 110m goal line to goal line (length). [1]

Association football Team field sport

Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played with a spherical ball between two teams of eleven players. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it the world's most popular sport. The game is played on a rectangular field called a pitch with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to score by moving the ball beyond the goal line into the opposing goal.

College higher education institution

A college is an educational institution or a constituent part of one. A college may be a degree-awarding tertiary educational institution, a part of a collegiate or federal university, an institution offering vocational education or a secondary school.

University Academic institution for further education

A university is an institution of higher education and research which awards academic degrees in various academic disciplines. Universities typically provide undergraduate education and postgraduate education.


College soccer teams play a variety of conference and non-conference games throughout the fall season, with the season culminating in the post-season tournament called the College Cup. The St. Louis University Billikens is the most successful men's team, having won 10 College Cups while the North Carolina Tar Heels led by head coach Anson Dorrance is the most successful women's college soccer team with 21 College Cup wins.

NCAA Division I Mens Soccer Tournament

The NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Tournament, sometimes known as the College Cup, is an American intercollegiate soccer tournament conducted by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and determines the Division I men's national champion. The tournament has been formally held since 1959, when it was an eight-team tournament. Since then, the tournament has expanded to 48 teams, in which every Division I conference tournament champion is allocated a berth. Among the most successful programs, Saint Louis won 10 titles during dynasty years between 1959 and 1973. Indiana has won 8 titles beginning in 1982, whereas Virginia has won 7 titles beginning in 1989.

Saint Louis Billikens mens soccer

The Saint Louis Billikens men's soccer team is an intercollegiate varsity sports team of Saint Louis University. The Saint Louis Billikens compete in the Atlantic 10 Conference in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I. Soccer is the main fall sport at SLU, which has not sponsored football since 1949.

University of North Carolina public university system throughout North Carolina, USA

The University of North Carolina is a multi-campus public university system composed of all 16 of North Carolina's public universities, as well as the NC School of Science and Mathematics, the nation's first public residential high school for gifted students. Commonly referred to as the University of North Carolina System or the UNC System to differentiate it from the original campus in Chapel Hill, the university has a total enrollment of over 183,001 students and in 2008 conferred over 75% of all baccalaureate degrees in North Carolina. UNC campuses conferred 43,686 degrees in 2008–2009, the bulk of which were at the bachelor's level, with 31,055 degrees awarded.

The best men's and women's college soccer player each year is awarded the Hermann Trophy. [2]

Hermann Trophy

The Hermann Trophy is awarded annually by the Missouri Athletic Club to the United States's top male and female college soccer players.

After their collegiate careers, top men's players often go on to play professionally in Major League Soccer or other professional leagues while top women's players may play professionally in the National Women's Soccer League or in other professional soccer leagues around the world including Division 1 Féminine in France, Damallsvenskan in Sweden, Germany's Frauen Bundesliga, Australia's W-League, or Japan's Nadeshiko League.

Major League Soccer Professional soccer league in the United States and Canada

Major League Soccer (MLS) is a men's professional soccer league sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation which represents the sport's highest level in the United States. The league comprises 24 teams—21 in the U.S. and 3 in Canada and constitutes one of the major professional sports leagues in both countries. The regular season runs from March to October, with each team playing 34 games; the team with the best record is awarded the Supporters' Shield. Fourteen teams compete in the postseason MLS Cup Playoffs through October and November, culminating in the championship game, the MLS Cup. MLS teams also play in domestic competitions against teams from other divisions in the U.S. Open Cup and in the Canadian Championship. MLS teams also compete against continental rivals in the CONCACAF Champions League. The league plans to expand to 28 teams with the additions of Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC in 2020, Austin FC in 2021, and a St. Louis franchise in 2022, with further plans to expand to 30 teams at a later date.

National Womens Soccer League Professional soccer league, highest level of womens soccer in the United States

The National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) is a professional women's soccer league owned by the teams, and under a management contract with the United States Soccer Federation. At the top of the United States league system, it represents the sport's highest level in the United States. The NWSL was established in 2012 as a successor to Women's Professional Soccer (2007–2012), which was itself the successor to Women's United Soccer Association (2001–2003). The league began play in 2013 with eight teams, four of which were former members of Women's Professional Soccer. With the addition of three expansion teams in Houston (2014), Orlando (2016), Salt Lake City (2018) and the loss of FC Kansas City and Boston Breakers, it now has nine teams throughout the United States.

The Championnat de France de Football Féminin, primarily referred to as the Division 1 Féminine and shortened as D1F, is the highest division of women's football in France. The league is the female equivalent to the men's Ligue 1 and is contested by 12 clubs. Seasons run from September to June, with teams playing 22 games each totaling 132 games in the season. Most games are played on Saturdays and Sundays, with a few games played during weekday evenings. Play is regularly suspended after the second week in December before returning in the third week of January. The Division 1 Féminine is ranked the best women's league in Europe according to UEFA 2018-2019 women’s association club coefficients.

An NCAA tournament game between Indiana University and the University of Tulsa in 2004 College soccer yates iu v tulsa 2004.jpg
An NCAA tournament game between Indiana University and the University of Tulsa in 2004
North Carolina Tar Heels celebrate winning the 2006 Women's College Cup. North Carolina Tar Heels 2006 College Cup Champions.jpg
North Carolina Tar Heels celebrate winning the 2006 Women's College Cup.

Competition format

College soccer is played in the fall from August to December depending on if a team makes the tournament and how long they are in the tournament. Teams play conference and non-conference teams. The NCAA tournament is played in November to early December with the Final Four and Championship game played in December. There are 48 teams in the men's tournament and 64 teams in the women's tournament.

Proposed Division I men's season change

After many months of extended unofficial discussion, on August 22, 2016, NCAA Division I men's coaches and the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) officially began an "informational campaign" to build support for a proposed change of the playing schedule for Division I men's soccer. Under the proposed changes of the "Academic Year Season Model", the number of games on the Fall schedule and the number of mid-week games would be reduced, with games added in the Spring following a Winter break, and the NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Tournament would be moved from November and December to May and June. In addition to more closely matching the professional season, the changes address issues of player health and safety and of the time demands on student-athletes. The proposal concerns only Division I men's soccer. While a large majority of men's coaches and players support the changes, only a small minority of women's coaches and players currently do so. At this time, there is only the "informational campaign" " educate our Athletic Directors, NCAA leadership, student athletes, coaches and fans on the advantages of this Academic Year Model," said Sasho Cirovski, NSCAA D1 Men's committee chair and University of Maryland head coach. No formal proposal has been made to the NCAA. [3] [4]

Sasho Cirovski is a Macedonian-Canadian soccer coach of the University of Maryland. Born in Macedonia and raised in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, Cirovski led his University of Maryland team to the NCAA championship in 2005, 2008, and 2018.


While similar in general appearance, NCAA rules diverge significantly from FIFA Laws of the Game. A manager may make limited substitutions, and each player is allowed one re-entry which must occur in the second half of the match unless the substitution was caused by a player injury resulting from a caution or send-off. All matches have an overtime period if the game remains tied after 90 minutes. As opposed to a regular two-half extra time period, golden goal is applied. If neither team scores in the two ten-minute periods, the match ends in a draw (unless it is a playoff match, then it would go to a penalty shootout). College soccer is played with a clock that can be stopped when signaled to by the referee for injuries, the issuing of cards, or when the referee believes a team is wasting time. The clock is also stopped after goals until play is restarted, and the clock generally counts down from 45:00 to 0:00 in each half. In most professional soccer leagues, there is an up-counting clock with the referee adding stoppage time to the end of each 45-minute half. [5]

FIFA International governing body of association football

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association is a non-profit organization which describes itself as an international governing body of association football, fútsal, beach soccer, and efootball. It is the highest governing body of football.

The Laws of the Game (LOTG) are the codified rules that help define association football. The laws mention the number of players a team should have, the game length, the size of the field and ball, the type and nature of fouls that referees may penalise, the frequently misinterpreted offside law, and many other laws that define the sport. During a match, it is the task of the referee to interpret and enforce the Laws of the Game.

The golden goal or golden point is a rule used in association football, bandy, baseball, lacrosse, field hockey, ice hockey, floorball and korfball to decide the winner of a match in which scores are equal at the end of normal time. It is a type of sudden death. Under this rule, the game will end when a goal or point is scored; the team that scores that goal or point during extra time will be the winner. Introduced formally in 1992, though with some history before that, the rule ceased to apply to most FIFA-authorized football games in 2004. The similar silver goal supplemented the golden goal between 2002 and 2004.

Double-jeopardy rule change

In February 2017, the NCAA rules committee met to discuss a proposed rule that would change the double jeopardy rule. If the last player was to foul a player and deny a goal scoring opportunity, this goal would instead give the referee the ability to choose to issue a yellow card, if they were to feel it was a proper attempt to get the ball. [6] The change was approved. [7]

Potential timekeeping change

On March 29, 2018, the NCAA announced that its rules committee had recommended that the organization align itself with FIFA timekeeping rules, with the new rule slated for adoption in the 2018 season. If this proposal had been adopted, [8]

The committee felt that the then-current timekeeping system led to gamesmanship, specifically blatant delaying tactics, at the end of matches.

However, an NCAA oversight committee tabled the proposal, meaning that the current system (official time kept on the sidelines by a downward-counting or upward-counting clock) will remain in place. [9]

Attendance leaders


Fans at college soccer games (here at Indiana University in 2004) can number in the thousands between top teams College soccer fans indiana 2004.jpg
Fans at college soccer games (here at Indiana University in 2004) can number in the thousands between top teams
Annual home attendance champions by average attendance [10]
1998 Fresno State Bulldogs WAC 102,716
1999 Saint Louis Billikens C-USA 113,037
2000 Connecticut Huskies Big East 142,772
2001 Saint Louis Billikens C-USA 122,767
2002 Connecticut Huskies Big East 112,519
2003 Saint Louis Billikens C-USA 92,779
2004 Indiana Hoosiers Big Ten 112,385
2005 New Mexico Lobos MPSF 103,629
2006 Connecticut Huskies Big East 112,931
2007 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos Big West 113,435
2008 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos Big West 113,444
2009 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos Big West 124,335
2010 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos Big West 125,873
2011 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos Big West 134,782
2012 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos Big West 95,542
2013 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos Big West 133,707
2014 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos Big West 113,844
2015 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos Big West 123,844
2016 Maryland Terrapins Big Ten 134,014
2017 Connecticut Huskies American 123,502


Annual home attendance champions by average attendance [11]
1998 North Carolina Tar Heels ACC 83,046
1999 North Carolina Tar Heels ACC 123,196
2000 North Carolina Tar Heels ACC 93,148
2001 North Carolina Tar Heels ACC 103,983
2002 North Carolina Tar Heels ACC 92,048
2003 Texas A&M Aggies Big 12 121,977
2004 Texas A&M Aggies Big 12 142,790
2005 Portland Pilots WCC 123,403
2006 Portland Pilots WCC 93,408
2007 Portland Pilots WCC 103,771
2008 Portland Pilots WCC 133,622
2009 Portland Pilots WCC 133,472
2010 Portland Pilots WCC 133,549
2011 Portland Pilots WCC 103,110
2012 Portland Pilots WCC 133,313
2013 Portland Pilots WCC 122,937
2014 Portland Pilots WCC 82,971
2015 BYU Cougars WCC 113,496
2016 BYU Cougars WCC 102,957

History of college soccer in the U.S.

The first de facto college football game held in the U.S. in 1869 between Rutgers University and Princeton was contested, at Rutgers captain John W. Leggett's request, with rules mixing soccer and rugby and loosely based on those of the Football Association in London, England. However most sports historians argue that this was actually the first-ever college gridiron football season in history. But that perception is changing, with Harvard being recognized as a pioneer in gridiron football, along with McGill, Tufts, and Yale.

The NCAA first began holding a men's national soccer championship in 1959. Prior to 1959, the men's national champion had been determined by a national poll instead of through a national tournament. St. Louis University won the 1959 inaugural championship using mostly local players, defeating a number of teams that were mostly foreign players. [12] St. Louis University continued to dominate the Division I Championship for a number of years, appearing in five consecutive finals from 1959 to 1963 and winning four; and appearing in six consecutive finals from 1969 to 1974 and winning four.

College soccer continued growing throughout the 1970s, with the NCAA adding a men's Division III in 1974 to accommodate the growing number of schools. [13] Indiana University's men's soccer program achieved success in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s with 8 national championships, 6 Hermann Trophy winners (national player of the year), and 13 national team players. From 1973 to 2003 no team won more men's national championships or had more NCAA College Cup appearances than Indiana. Virginia won a record four consecutive men's national championships from 1991 to 1994 under head coach Bruce Arena.

The first college women's varsity soccer team was established at Castleton State College in Castleton VT in the mid 1960s. A major factor in the growth of women's college soccer was the passage of the Education Amendments of 1972, which included Title IX that mandated equal access and equal spending on athletic programs at college institutions. As a result, college varsity soccer programs for women were established.

By 1981, there were about a 100 varsity programs established in NCAA women's soccer, and even more club teams. The AIAW (Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women), was established in the mid 1970s and began sponsoring women's varsity programs. It establishing an informal national championship in 1980, which Cortland State won. A year later in 1981, the tournament was hosted by the University of North Carolina, which ended up winning the tournament as well.

In 1982, the NCAA began to sponsor women's sports and all schools switched into the NCAA. One major difference in the growth of women's college soccer unlike men's college soccer, was that it did not start out primarily in one region of the country and spread through the decades. With help from men's soccer, the women's program was able to take root all over the country at once, and grow from there. The University of North Carolina, coached by Anson Dorrance, immediately stood out as the ones to beat in the women's college game and remain that way up unto today. Of the first 20 NCAA championships, 16 were won by UNC, including nine in a row from 1986-1994. [6]

College Cup


The following teams have won the College Cup two or more times.

TeamNumberYears won
St. Louis 101959, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1965, 1967 †, 1969, 1970, 1972, 1973
Indiana 81982, 1983, 1988, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2012
Virginia 71989 †, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 2009, 2014
Maryland 41968 ‡, 2005, 2008, 2018
San Francisco 41966, 1975, 1976, 1980
UCLA 41985, 1990, 1997, 2002
Stanford 32015, 2016, 2017
Clemson 21984, 1987
Connecticut 21981, 2000
Michigan State 21967 †, 1968 ‡
North Carolina 22001, 2011

Side Notes:


The following teams have won the College Cup.

TeamNumberYears won
North Carolina 21 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993,
1994, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2012
Notre Dame 3 1995, 2004, 2010
Portland 2 2002, 2005
Stanford 2 2011, 2017
USC 2 2007, 2016
Florida 1 1998
Florida State 1 2014, 2018
George Mason 1 1985
Penn State 1 2015
Santa Clara 1 2001
UCLA 1 2013


A number of American college soccer programs have developed players that have gone on to play professionally or for the U.S. national teams. Every year since its inception in 1996, Major League Soccer (MLS) has held a SuperDraft in which MLS teams draft young prospects. The draft picks in the MLS SuperDraft are often U.S.-based college soccer players. A similar format is held each year for the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL): the NWSL College Draft.

The Hermann Trophy is awarded annually by the Missouri Athletic Club to the top male and female college soccer players in the United States.At the start of the college soccer season a list of Hermann Trophy nominees is compiled. Near the end of the college regular season, 15 players are announced as semifinalists. In early December the top three vote-getters for both the men's and women's trophy are announced as finalists. In an annual banquet held at the Missouri Athletic Club of St. Louis, the winners of the two awards are announced. Hermann Trophy winners who have starred for the U.S. national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups include Tony Meola (1989), Alexi Lalas (1991), and Claudio Reyna (1993), Michelle Akers (1988), Shannon Higgins (1989), Kristine Lilly (1991), Mia Hamm (1991–92), Tisha Venturini (1994), Shannon MacMillan (1995), Cindy Parlow (1997–98), Aly Wagner (2002), Kelley O'Hara (2009), Christen Press (2010), Crystal Dunn (2012) and Morgan Brian (2013–14).

Many top American men's college soccer players play for separate teams in the Premier Development League (PDL) during the summer. One college club, the BYU Cougars men's team, has foregone playing in the NCAA or NAIA and instead play all of their games in the PDL. [14]

Several coaches who have won the College Cup have gone on to coach Division I professional soccer or even the U.S. national teams. The most well-known NCAA men's team coaches who have gone on to success in the professional ranks include Bruce Arena (four College Cups with Virginia from 1991 to 1994), and Sigi Schmid (won two College Cups with UCLA in 1985 and 1990). On the women's side, North Carolina coach Anson Dorrance coached the United States women's national soccer team during its early years from 1986–1994 and led the team to win the inaugural 1991 FIFA Women's World Cup in China. [15] Former UCLA Bruins coach Jill Ellis led the national team to win its third World Cup at the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada. [16]

Many women's college soccer players take opportunities to play professionally in the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) and in Europe, Asia, and Australia. Players are also chosen from college to be a member of the United States women's national soccer team. The NWSL started in 2012 and now consists of 10 teams. This most recent draft in 2017 took place in Los Angeles, California with Rose Lavelle from Wisconsin going in the first round to the Boston Breakers.

Recent winners of the Mac Hermann Trophy include international players such as Kadeisha Buchanan (2016), Raquel Rodríguez (2015), Morgan Brian (2014, 2013) and Crystal Dunn (2012). [6]

Divisions and conferences in the United States

There are approximately 800 NCAA men's soccer programs—206 NCAA Division I, 207 Division II, and 408 Division III. [17] There are 959 NCAA women's soccer teams—310 Division I, 225 Division II, and 424 Division III. [18]

The number of men's Division I programs has stayed roughly constant since the mid-1990s, but the number of women's Division I programs has increased from 190 in 1995–96 to 310 in 2008–09. [18]

NCAA Division I

NCAA Division II

Divisions and conferences internationally

In the United Kingdom, the BUCS Football League governs soccer in colleges and universities. [19]

In South Korea, the university soccer competition is called the U-League. [20] Created in 2008, it is the first organized league competition for university soccer teams and operates outside of the regular Korean soccer league structure.[ citation needed ]


In Canada, there are two organizations that regulate university and collegiate athletics:[ citation needed ]

National college soccer awards

See Category:College soccer trophies and awards in the United States

See also

Related Research Articles

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Fairfield Stags intercollegiate sports teams of Fairfield University

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Western Michigan Broncos intercollegiate sports teams of Western Michigan University

The Western Michigan Broncos are a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) team representing Western Michigan University (WMU). They compete in the Mid-American Conference in men's baseball, basketball, football, soccer and tennis; and women's basketball, cross-country, golf, gymnastics, soccer, softball, track and field, and volleyball. The men's ice hockey team competes in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. The Broncos also have a flight team, the SkyBroncos, who have won the National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA) National Championship award five times.

Oakland Golden Grizzlies

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UMass Minutemen and Minutewomen athletic program of the University of Massachusetts Amherst

The UMass Minutemen are the athletic teams that represent the University of Massachusetts Amherst; strictly speaking, the Minutemen nickname applies to men's teams and athletes only — women's teams and athletes are known as Minutewomen. The Minutemen and Minutewomen compete in NCAA Division I sports competition primarily as members of the Atlantic 10 Conference. UMass is one of only 16 universities in the nation that plays Division I FBS football and Division I men's ice hockey. The nickname is also applied to club teams that do not participate within the NCAA structure.

UCF Knights athletics program of the University of Central Florida

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UC Santa Barbara Gauchos

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Denver Pioneers

The Denver Pioneers are the sports teams of the University of Denver (DU). They play in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I. Denver is a member of The Summit League for men's and women's basketball, swimming and diving, men's and women's soccer, tennis and golf for both men and women, plus women's volleyball. Other DU teams play in various conferences in the sports that are not sponsored by The Summit. The men's ice hockey team is a charter member of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC), which formed in 2011 with play beginning in 2013. The lacrosse teams for men and women are members of the Big East Conference; the men began Big East play in the 2013–14 school year, while the women left the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) after the 2016 lacrosse season. Men's and women's skiing compete in the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association, while the women's gymnastics team became an affiliate of the Big 12 Conference starting with the 2015–16 season.

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Clemson Tigers mens soccer mens soccer team of Clemson University

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VCU Rams mens soccer

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SIU Edwardsville Cougars mens soccer

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Alexander Regis Comsia is a Canadian soccer player who currently plays for North Carolina FC of the USL Championship. He played college soccer for the North Carolina Tar Heels program. After his Senior season, Comsia was selected First team 2018 NCAA Men's Soccer All-Americans and the ACC Defender of the Year, two of the most prestigious individual awards in collegiate soccer.

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