After helping lead the Otters to their best ever PDL season, most players returned to their college teams hoping to replicate that success. Several were surprise champions (Tusculum) and other started out as favorites and delivered (Palm Beach Atlantic and William Carey). Check out how your favorite Otters did in the college ranks this season and if they reached the postseason tournament to continue their run.
In Division I, things did not go quite as planned for Troy Brady and the Golden Griffins. Injuries led to a slow start to the season and the Griffins failed to reach the conference tournament. However, Brady had a strong season, appearing in 15 games and leading the team in goals (6), assists (3), points (15), and shots on goal (15).
Further south in Virginia, Shalom Dutey and Tresor Mbuyu looked to help the Liberty Flames make a statement in their first year in the Atlantic Sun. Dutey appeared in 12 games at centerback and brought his goal-scoring form from the Otters to score one goal on the season. Mbuyu was able to score 12 goals and four assists to help the Flames reach the quarterfinals of the conference tournament before losing to Jacksonville 2-0. Mbuyu was named to the All-ASUN First Team for his efforts.
In Illinois, two former Otters contributed to their two respective teams. At Western Illinois, Tim Trilk turned in another good season between the pipes. Despite the Leathernecks 4-10-3 record, Trilk recorded four shutouts and 53 saves, which was fourth best in the Summit League. At Bradley University, Matt Perry transitioned from forward to centerback and appeared in 11 games, recording two shots. The Braves finished 8-5-4, just missing the conference tournament.
Locally, Josh Perryman and Jordan Broadwater were a part of an ETSU team that played one of the nation’s toughest schedules and finished second in the Southern Conference. Both redshirt freshmen were able to make an impact for the Buccaneers this season. Broadwater made his collegiate debut against VMI in October and was able to score, to give the Bucs a 4-0 victory. In goal, Perryman started every game as the Bucs reached the conference semifinals before falling in overtime to eventual champions Furman. Perryman finished with 51 saves and three shutouts and was named to the SoCon Second Team and All-Freshmen Team.
Just east in Greeneville, several Otters helped lead the Tusculum Pioneers to a surprise SAC Conference Tournament title. In the championship game, Ayuk Tambe continued scoring critical goals with the game-winner in the final against Anderson. Tambe finished with nine goals and three assists after a strong second half and was named to the SAC Second Team. Edgar Cervantes made 16 appearances and recorded an assist and was named as an All-Conference Honorable Mention and a place on the All-Tournament Team. Brazilian midfielder Henrique Devens scored eight goals of his own and continued to rack up shots like he did for the Otters, leading the team with 47 total. Dario Ljubic was moved to forward from his usual outside back spot and was able to record four goals and five assists. Freshman Paulos Beraki also made his collegiate debut in his first season as a Pioneer. Tusculum were selected as a four seed in the D-II Tournament and were able to get past Queens on an Henrique Devens brace before falling 2-1 to the #1 team in the country in the second round.
Elsewhere in the SAC, the Wingate Bulldogs finished the season 8-6-1 before losing to Tusculum in the conference quarterfinals. Oscar Perez scored three goals, continuing the trend from this summer. Mattia Ditommaso also played in eleven games for the six-seeded Bulldogs. At Carson-Newman, local product Evan Harr made 14 appearances and picked up an assist for the Eagles.
At Lander University, Sia Jamedar closed out his senior season with a big year for the Bearcats. The Swedish midfielder appeared in all 21 games and scored five goals, including the game-winner in Lander’s first game of the NCAA Tournament. After finishing second in the Peachbelt Conference to the #1 ranked Young Harris Mountain Lions, Lander was able to get their revenge in the NCAA Tournament, upsetting the Mountain Lions 1-0 and winning the Southeast regional title. The run came to an end in the Elite Eight after a 2-1 loss to Barry University.
Returning to Ohio Valley for his senior season, Diego Thielen made 15 appearances and scored one goal. The Fighting Scots finished third in their conference before falling to top seed Tiffin in the final. However, they were able to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament as a four seed. After a first round victory over Maryville the Fighting Scots got another chance against Tiffin, this time prevailing in penalty kicks to advance to the third round. The dream run came to an end in the Elite Eight where Ohio Valley was unable to get past another #1 seed in Fort Hays State.
Down in Florida, several Otters helped the Palm Beach Atlantic Sailfish continue to be a force in Division II soccer. The Sailfish finished 19-1 to win the Sunshine State Conference and earn a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Blake Barribeau continued to hold down the left back spot like he did for the Otters and flash two-way ability, finishing with four assists. At forward, Guillermo Deal started 15 of 21 games and scored four goals and three assists. Coming off the bench for the Sailfish, Raphael Campos was able to contribute three goals and six assists, which was tied for second best on the team. The Sailfish received a tough first round matchup against last year’s national runner-up Lynn University and fell 5-4 in penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw in a driving rainstorm.
Also in the Sunshine State Conference, Guillermo Segovia Marcos joined the Florida Tech Panthers after transferring from Ohio Valley. Segovia was a part of a potent offense that averaged 2.40 goals a game. He was able to show what made him the centerpiece of the Otters attack by recording five goals and one assist and helping the Panthers finish 10-4-1 in the highly competitive Sunshine State Conference.
One of the few Otters on the West Coast, Aleksa Mitrovic, finished his college career with the Northwest Nazarene Nighthawks. Mitrovic started all 17 games, leading the team in minutes (1444) and shots (37) while also recording five goals and an assist. Mitrovic was named to the All-GNAC second team.
Former Otter and Science Hill standout Scott Lich completed another successful campaign with the University of Chicago Maroons. Lich started 20 of a possible 21 games en route to the Maroons Final Four run. He also tallied three assists and was named to the All-UAA Second Team and UAA Fall All-Academic Team.
The Otters also had many high-level performers on the NAIA level this season. At Wayland Baptist, Alexis “Tato” Castillo and the reigning national champions looked to defend their title. They finished with a record of 13-4 and were regular season conference champions, but just missed out on the NAIA Tournament. Castillo started 22 of 25 games scoring four goals and adding two assists. He was named to the Sooner Athletic Conference First Team as well as being named the Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.
Also in the Sooner Athletic Conference, Conner Haney and Elias McCloud helped the John Brown Golden Eagles finish the season with a 9-8-1 record. Haney finished his senior season with nine goals and five assists and was named to the SAC First Team. McCloud started all but one game and finished third on the team in minutes while also adding a goal and an assist.
In Georgia, two former Otters teamed up to help the Reinhardt Eagles win their first ever AAC Championship. Transfer Taylor Gray started all 20 games and scored five goals and four assists. In goal, Torge Wiedenroth turned in his best season to date, picking up ten wins, recording 12 shutouts, a save percentage of .865 and 90 saves. His goals against average of 0.68 was also tenth best in the entire NAIA. He was named to the AAC First Team and Defensive Player of the Year, as well as AAC Tournament MVP. In the NAIA Tournament, the Eagles were paired with the top-seeded William Carey Crusaders and fell 3-0 in the first round.
At William Carey, Guilherme Ávila had a very successful season in his first year with the Crusaders. Ávila started 20 games and was a key piece of a defense that only allowed 0.86 goals per game. He was named First Team All Conference as well as the Newcomer of the Year for the conference. He also earned a spot on the All-Academic Team. William Carey went undefeated in the regular season, winning their conference tournament, and was named the top seed for the NAIA Tournament. After defeating Reinhardt in the first round, the Crusaders reached the NAIA semifinal before falling 2-1 to 5th ranked Missouri Valley College.
On the coaching side, top Otters assistant coach Richard Wall led his Lees-McRae Bobcats into his fourth season as head coach. They finished 8-7-2 including an 8-2 drubbing of Newberry. Coach Wall also placed several players on the All-Conference team, including senior Pol Vassart, who finished as the Offensive Player of the Year. Vassart and sophomore midfielder Agustin Ortiz were named to the D2CCA All-Southeast Region Team.
Former Otters goalkeeper Carlos Rubio served as the goalkeeper coach for the Lenoir-Rhyne Bears this season that won their first regular season SAC title before falling in the semifinals to Anderson. Another player-turned-coach, Jeremy De Hoog served as a graduate assistant at the University of Charleston this season. After an undefeated regular season, the Golden Eagles were named a number one seed and reached the third round before falling 1-0 to West Chester.
The Otters continue their preparations for the 2019 League Two season, so be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on all the team’s offseason developments!