We’re about two months from the NCAA DI men’s soccer championship game Dec. 15 in Cary. Here is a midseason look at the top scorers and keepers and players who have made a convincing case for the MAC Hermann Trophy.
Milan Illoski – UCLA
As first-year head coach Ryan Jorden continues to implement his system at UCLA, no one looks more comfortable in the formation as Milan Iloski. The junior had six career goals in 30 matches. Through 12 games of 2019, he leads Division I with 15 tallies, including a hat trick against Maryland a five-goal outburst against San Diego State.
What makes Iloski so dangerous is the versatility he possesses, particularly his awareness in the box and the capability to finish with both feet. With the Bruins’ record hovering around .500, a postseason berth is still in play. If they get in, Iloski will likely be a big reason why.
Anders Engebretsen – Saint Mary’s
After Saint Mary’s won 18 games a year ago, it was expected there would be some noticeable differences on the both ends of the pitch come 2019. Through 11 matches, Engebretsen has been hard not to notice.
The senior registered 24 points last season. He’s exceeded that total in close to half as many games. Engebretsen has established himself as an offensive catalyst for the Gaels with 10 goals and seven assists, meaning Saint Mary’s has a go-to scorer and the experience to compete for a top-16 seed.
Miguel Berry – San Diego
Keeping it in California, the Toreros seek a return to the NCAA tournament for what would be their first bid since 2014. To say Miguel Berry has had a hand in that would be an understatement.
Berry, a senior, has never had a season with more than 18 points — until now. He’s scored 10 of San Diego’s 24 goals, assisting on six others. Did I mention he’s played six fewer games in 2019 than any of the previous three seasons? He’s responsible for two-thirds of the offense, making him a clear choice for this list.
TJ Bush – James Madison
How many goalies can say they’ve played a No. 1 ranked team twice this season and allowed one combined goal? Somewhere, TJ Bush is raising his hand.
Bush looked rattled over the season’s opening weekend, giving up four goals in a pair of losses to Florida Atlantic and Florida International. Since then, he’s given up eight goals with a 9-2-1 record and seven shutouts.
The Dukes have a fair amount of returning players from a team that reached the NCAA tournament quarterfinals in 2018. Bush continuing to elevate his play could be enough to breakthrough to a College Cup this time around.
Sam Fowler/Bryce Logan – Washington
Why are two goalies sharing one spot? Excellent question.
Washington has established a platoon in net, splitting time equally between Fowler and Logan. The system has been executed well and the keepers complement one another to the tune of a combined 11-1 record with more total shutouts (8) than goals allowed (6).
The Huskies will have to figure out a way to manage the goalkeeping situation come the postseason, but for now they’re No. 2 in the polls, leading the Pac-12 and have few, if any worries.
Giannis Nikopolidis/Tomas Romero – Georgetown
Like Washington, the Hoyas also use a two-keeper rotation. The move has paid tremendous dividends for Georgetown as it looks to win the Big East. Nikopolidis and Romero have six starts apiece with a cumulative record of 10-1-1 in addition to more shutouts (6) than goals conceded (5).
An Oct. 23 meeting with St. John’s is expected to carry weight with regard to a regular season conference champion. That game should offer some clarity to who Georgetown might start in high-pressure situations.
MAC Hermann contenders
Colin Shutler – Virginia, Goalkeeper
Virginia’s defense has been exceptional in 2019. The Cavaliers have conceded two goals in 12 games, one of which was an own goal. Let that sink in. Across all of Division I, Shutler has only allowed one player on an opposing team to score.
He’s earned ACC Player of the Week twice through a month of conference games and has half as many shutouts (10) as the UVA offense has goals. At his current rate, it seems more than fair to include him in the MAC Hermann discussion.
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Eddie Munjoma – Southern Methodist, Defender
Southern Methodist has one MAC Hermann winner in program history in Luchi Gonzalez. He won the award in 2001, a season in which SMU made it through the regular season unscathed.
Now in 2019, the Mustangs are without a loss through 11 games and Eddie Munjoma is responsible for much of the team’s success. As a defender, the senior has six goals and six assists for 18 total points. Defensively, he’s consistently contributed to a unit that’s allowed six goals.
For reference, 2018 MAC Hermann winner Andrew Gutman (Indiana) played defense and scored 31 points. Munjoma is within striking distance of those numbers.
Kimarni Smith – Clemson, Forward
The Tigers missed the NCAA tournament in 2018 for the first time in five years. That seems unlikely to happen again given the emergence of Smith. The junior has 13 goals in 12 games, trailing only Iloski for the lead in Division I.
Clemson, ranked No. 8 following the Oct. 15 edition of the United Soccer Coaches poll, is firing on all cylinders with 42 goals on the season. With Smith leading the charge, the Tigers are in position to not only make the NCAA tournament, but to also host the opening rounds.