In one week, college soccer will once again descend upon the Chester waterfront for the first of what could become an annual trip to PPL Park for the NCAA College Cup championships. Currently, eight teams Connecticut, Virginia, Maryland, California, Notre Dame, Michigan St., New Mexico and Washington will battle to become the 2013 NCAA Division I champion.
There is a lot of historic moments around the tournament since 400 people attended the first national championship in 1959 when the University of Saint Louis defeated Bridgeport (Conn.) College, 5-2 in Connecticut. The tournament is also rich with local history as well with five of the seven current and former NCAA Division I soccer programs in Philadelphia boasting NCAA championship appearances.
With these matches being played on Union soil in a weeks time, philadelphiaunion.com came up with 10 things you should know about College Cup.
10. Chester and PPL Park will be the 30th different town and venue to hold the NCAA championships since 1959. It’s only the second time the games will be held in Pennsylvania, the last time being on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania when the University of San Francisco won its second in a pair of back-to-back championships in 1976.
9. When West Chester’s program was Division I, the team qualified for the tournament eight times over a 10-year span (1959-69) and won it all in 1961 behind a 12-0 record.
8. Union midfielder Amobi Okugo, who hails from California took to Twitter recently and made this decree:
— Amobi Okugo (@amobisays) November 18, 2013
The Union’s first round draft selection from UCLA in 2010 won’t have to make the trek as the top-seeded Bruins were bounced in third round play by Connecticut, after a decisive PK shootout. UCLA can still take pride however in being the program with the most appearances out of any school (41), complete with four national titles and four runner-ups. Coming in a close second is Indiana, with 38 appearances and eight national titles.
7. There are three active Major League Soccer coaches that have won College Cup titles. Seattle’s Sigi Schmid, Portland’s Caleb Porter and Los Angeles’ Bruce Arena. Schmid won three as coach of UCLA (1985, 1990, 1997), Porter collected his one and only with Akron in 2010 and Arena took four while coach at Virginia (1989, 1991-94). Of the three, Arena is the only one to celebrate both a College Cup and MLS Cup title.
6. Philadelphia University (now NCAA Division II) used to be a Division I program that dominated the college soccer scene – and not just in the Greater Philadelphia region. From 1969 to 1986, the Rams (formerly known as Philadelphia Textile) qualified for NCAA postseason play 16 times, the most out of any of the other area Division I schools.
5. Four of the eight schools remaining in the tournament have players that live in the Union’s radius, three of which spent time in the club’s youth academy. Virginia’s Darius Madison along with Maryland’s Christiano Francois and Zack Steffen were participants in the Academy. Additionally, local ties include Virginia’s Kyle McCord (Chester Springs, Pa.), Notre Dame’s Andrew O’Malley (West Chester), Michigan State’s Andrew Herr (Millersville, Pa.) and Maryland’s Alex Shinsky (York, Pa.).
4. Goalkeeper Zac MacMath and midfielder-defender Matt Kassel are the only players on the current roster to also be NCAA national champions. Both were instrumental pieces on Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski’s roster when the Terrapins hoisted their first national championship in 2008. Union technical director Rob Vartughian was goalkeeper coach on that championship winning team as well.
3. The highest attendance for an NCAA final like the one that will be held Sunday, Dec. 15 at PPL Park is 21,319. That year was 1995 when Wisconsin upset Duke, 2-0 in Richmond, Va.
2. The two teams that certainly earned their titles was Indiana in 1982 and UCLA in 1989 when it took eight overtimes apiece in order to defeat their opponent. The Hoosiers bested Columbia, 2-1 and the Bruins beat American, 1-0. Needless to say this was before penalty kick shootouts were enacted – beginning in 1990.
1. The NCAA College Cup will be the seventh college soccer event held at PPL Park since the stadium’s opening in June 2010. It’ll be the third event held this season as the Army-Navy Cup and Big East championship games were also held here in November.
Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at email@example.com