Six hundred wins is a major milestone in the world of college soccer. We’ll be writing more about Jay Martin’s 600th in the coming days, but it needs to be said that Martin is only the second soccer coach in history to reach 600 wins. And that does include all NCAA divisions. This is truly a significant event for both Coach Martin and for the Ohio Wesleyan soccer program.
Coach Martin joins retired Wheaton (Ill.) coach Joe Bean as the only other coach who has achieved 600 wins, and that in itself is a good story as these two coaches have faced off in some key matches over the past three decades.
While Coach Martin’s real success is all about his impact on his players, both past and present, he has guided his programs to NCAA success. In 1998, he led his team to a Division III national championship, and over the years, has seen the semifinals seven times: twice as national runner-up. He also guided the Bishops to 12 regional titles. His squads hold the Division III record for for playoff appearances with 33, and has 54 playoff victories.
Coach Martin has also received the accolades of his peers, taking the Regional Coach of the Year award 15 times in his 34 years at Ohio Wesleyan, and was National Coach of the Year in 1991 and 1998.
Coach Martin is a 1971 graduate of Springfield College, lettering in soccer and lacrosse. He also has earned a Master’s Degree and a Ph. D from Ohio State University.
More than one of you has asked about the difference between the two current national soccer polls; the NSCAA weekly national poll, and our D3soccer.com Top 25 poll. Most of us at D3sports.com has explained the differences on a number of occasions, as there is quite a difference in how the polls are built.
In the “Here’s a Better Answer” department, the Sports Information crew at Muhlenberg College has stepped it up with their straightforward rundown on the poll differences in their always interesting sports blog. The well written explanation includes a direct example from Muhlenberg’s position in the poll from September 18.
Check it out in the September 21, 2011 version of The MuhlBox.
Just days from now will bring another set of national rankings. Those rankings demand an effort from those of us who produce the polls, including the coaches and SIDs that analyze the programs, records, and other intangibles that go into a ballot.
Yet rankings are a funny thing. Rankings offer little to no real value, yet those sought after lists of the “best” programs fit right into our collective competitive nature. Oh yes, we want to win, and we want others to see us win. Seemingly, it isn’t good enough to simply face an opponent in an athletic contest, one has to understand that this opponent is ranked higher than we are and thus the upcoming match carries even more meaning than just a victory. After all, who doesn’t want to read the headline that your program just upset the number three ranked team in the nation or the region.
So the exercise of creating weekly rankings continues in every sport at every level across the country. In soccer, we love our rankings as much as anyone. As fans, we have the Coaches Association with their weekly regional and national rankings, we have the limited but oh so important NCAA regional rankings, and of course the side here at D3soccer.com creates our own weekly national rankings.
Whether you use the rankings to analyze your favorite program within your region, or to position your team nationally, we trust that you will take the whole idea of rankings with a healthy grain of salt. The anticipation and reality of a strong position within the Top 25 brings joy to hearts for every team in every conference. But at the end of the day, what counts most is, of course, the result.
Most programs will never see a position in a national ranking, yet those same programs will compete to win, and strive to play well as student athletes. The pride of accomplishment, the satisfaction of improvement, conference tournament success, and the prized post-season ticket are truly what matter most in our sport.
D3soccer.com will be releasing our first regular season Top 25 poll on Tuesday, September 13. We skipped the first week as there really wasn’t enough data on which to vote as some programs were just getting started over the Labor Day weekend. But this past weekend has provided plenty of information for us to rethink the top teams in the country. There will be some new faces in the Top 25 this week, so stay tuned.
We just published our Top 25 preseason poll for both men’s and women’s programs – just in time for the first matches of 2011 to kick off later this week. While preseason polls lack a certain amount of accuracy, we believe that our lists are well thought out and should inspire some debate.
Should we have had Messiah on top of both polls? Our voters seem to think that the Messiah women have enough in reserve to make another run at the title, while the Oshkosh men have made a strong enough impression for a No. 2 spot. And the same for a quiet St. Lawrence program that seemingly has something up their sleeve for 2011.
It is no easy task to compile an intelligent preseason analysis of any college program. While the temptation is to simply run with last year’s final poll, accuracy can demand a more honest approach. More than in the regular season, there is some guess-work amongst the data. Our voters and contributors have to examine not just the returning players from 2010, but also need to consider schedule, variables from last season’s success or failures, and any new player contributions. And that can include players who are returning after a season ending injury, as with Messiah’s Erin Hench, the NSCAA 2009 Player of the Year who suffered a serious injury before the 2010 season even got out of the gate.
So take a look at our efforts, analyze the facts, and make a few comments on the message boards. And as the season begins on Thursday, check back often for scores, game stories, message board comments – and the well thought out weekly Top 25 poll!
While it is far too steamy this week to actually play much soccer, it won’t be too long before the 2011 players and coaches roll onto the pitch for the preseason practice regiment. And as the programs get started later this month, we’ll be ready with our take on the season, the conferences, and a preseason Top 25 poll.
In the meantime, check out the site and feel free to contact us with your questions or comments. Some schedules are up, the team pages are complete, and 2010 season information is available. As D3soccer.com kicks off its fourth full season, your input will continue to be important as we strive to cover the world of NCAA soccer.
In short, Saturday gave us a crazy and exciting couple of matches! You can read about both in the headlines, but if you feel tired out after watching the action, join the crowd.
Each match went down to the wire, and each match presented something that hasn’t been a common sight in college soccer these past few years: Messiah teams down a goal. Lynchburg did that to the Falcon men late in their match, and Hardin-Simmons did just that to the Falcon women in the second match.
The Messiah women haven’t lost a match since the Final Four in 2007, and have only given up three goals in the 2010 season. It was quite a sight to see the Falcon pressure in the second half of the women’s final.
It really was a great Saturday for NCAA Division III soccer. Our congratulations to the Hardin-Simmons Cowgirls on their first national championship, and to the Messiah Falcons for their eighth. Well done!
That second half was one for the memory book. While Messiah developed their offensive attack in a more coordinated fashion than did Lynchburg, it was Lynchburg who had the opportunities – and the statistical advantage.
After Michael Abbonizio scored for Lynchburg off a beautiful (almost Messiah-like) 20+ yard shot that was up in the corner, it looked like the Hornets were on their way to the upset of the decade. But in the final seven minutes, Dan Squire scored for the Falcons on a very controversial play.
Maybe Lynchburg’s post-season run wasn’t so unexpected? Maybe we all should have seen that this team has what it takes to get deep into the tournament. For now, it is 0-0 at the half, the Hornets lead the Falcons 5-3 in shots, and the Falcons have no shots on goal thus far.
But Messiah has been rotating their players off the bench in order to conserve energy against against the heat of San Antonio and the speed of Lynchburg. Fresh legs in the second half might be a difference, as it is tough to imagine Pezon or the elder Thompsons without a point in a national championship match. And as we have seen before, Messiah can put two or three goals together in a short span of time. So it is safe to say that we’ll see a different second half of play than we did in the first.
As you can see by taking a look at the stories above, Friday’s semifinals provided an exciting day of soccer; aggressive attacking, superb passing, great goals, stalwart defenses, and great goal tending. We witnessed shut-outs, close matches, laser like shots, an overtime Golden Goal, and a round of penalty kicks. It was a rewarding day for Division III soccer fans, and a day that put the strength of these programs on display.
At 1:00, Messiah and the surprising Lynchburg Hornets play for the title. As you can read in James Derrick’s article, this match is a tough one to predict. Dial in and watch this one!
At 5:00, Messiah faces Hardin-Simmons in the No. 1 versus No. 2 match that we wish we could see in every NCAA Division III final. Can the Cowgirls withstand the almost incredible offense that the Falcons bring to every match? This will be a great one to watch, and a real test for the first-timer Cowgirls and their coach Marcus Wood.
On to the players themselves; who do you think should be recognized for their play on Friday? If you had to pick a men’s and women’s player of the day, who would it be? Let us know.