Year-End Awards and Best XI
Jordan Morris may be the biggest prospect to come out of college soccer in a long time and he did lead Stanford to a national championship, but looking back over the 2015 season it’s hard not to give Fabian Herbers the nod as the offensive player of the year in college soccer.
The Creighton junior was second in the nation in goals with 15 and led the nation outright with 17 assists. All that for a team that won 15 straight games to start the season and finished the year 19-4 with an exit from the tournament on penalties to Akron in the quarterfinals.
Looking on the defensive side of the field, Stanford left back Brandon Vincent stood out with his skill and his impact to the Cardinal both in the attack, from the penalty spot and in defense. He gets the edge over another standout who is a big prospect at the next level in Georgetown center back Joshua Yaro.
For freshman of the year, I’m going to stick with convention and pick Wake Forest midfielder Jack Harrison. The former Manchester United youth player was dynamite this season for the Demon Deacons, leading them with 8 goals and 11 assists while often looking like the most seasoned veteran on the field for either team nearly every time out.
Washington goalkeeper Ryan Herman is my goalkeeper of the year, edging out Kentucky star Callum Irving. Washington struggled mightily on offense this season – and missed the tournament because of their struggles scoring – but they were one of the toughest teams to score on this season in large part because of the 6-foot-7 Herman. Finally getting a chance to shine with Spencer Richey gone, Herman was a highlight reel in goal with 10 clean sheets and only 12 goals conceded in 18 matches (that’s a 0.63 goals against average).
Not all newcomers to college soccer come in as freshman. A couple stars this year – Ben Polk and Tucker Hume – were great examples of how transfers can impact a program (Daniel Johnson at Louisville, Jorge Gomez Sanchez at Temple and Nazeem Bartman at South Florida were three others).
Polk, a junior college All-American who scored 32 goals for Herkimer last season, led Syracuse with 12 goals and caught fire when it mattered most in the postseason to guide the Orange to their first-ever College Cup. He gets a small edge for Newcomer of the Year over Hume, who led North Carolina with 11 goals and 5 assists mostly as an option off the bench, in his first season after transferring from Division II Rollins College.
Going unbeaten in a season is a tall task no matter what conference your team plays in and all Jamie Franks did in his first year at the helm at Denver was lead the Pioneers to an unbeaten regular season record and a 15-1-3 overall mark that ended with a 1-0 loss to SMU in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. For that, he gets my vote for coach of the year.
College Soccer Best XI
Goalkeeper: Ryan Herman, Washington
Defender: Brandon Vincent, Stanford
Defender: Joshua Yaro, Georgetown
Defender: Kyle Fisher, Clemson
Defender: Liam Doyle, Ohio State
Midfielder: Jack Harrison, Wake Forest
Midfielder: Richie Laryea, Akron
Midfielder: Julian Buescher, Syracuse
Midfielder: Amass Amonkona, Dayton
Forward: Jordan Morris, Stanford
Forward: Fabian Herbers, Creighton
College Soccer Best XI Freshmen
Goalkeeper: JT Marcincowski, Georgetown
Defender: Andrew Gutman, Indiana
Defender: Miles Robinson, Syracuse
Defender: Quentin Pearson, Washington
Defender: Kamal Miller, Syracuse
Midfielder: Jackson Yueill, UCLA
Midfielder: Jack Harrison, Wake Forest
Midfielder: Francis Atuahene, Michigan
Forward: Gordon Wild, SC Upstate
Forward: Juan Sebastian Sanchez, Tulsa
Forward: Abdou Mbacke Thiam, UConn
Offensive Player of the Year: Fabian Herbers, Creighton
Defensive Player of the Year: Brandon Vincent, Stanford
Goalkeeper of the Year: Ryan Herman, Washington
Freshman of the Year: Jack Harrison, Wake Forest
Newcomer of the Year: Ben Polk, Syracuse
Coach of the Year: Jamie Franks, Denver