|(l. to r.) Forward of the Year Nick West, Midfielder of the Year Bryce Ikeda, Defender of the Year Trent Vegter, and Goalkeeper of the Year AJ Marcucci.
Photos (l. to r.): Messiah College Athletics; Thomas Nettleton / d3photography.com; Emma Johnson / Calvin Sports Information; Geoff Bolte / Clarus Studios
You can file this under "last, but certainly not least," as we belatedly announce the 2018 D3soccer.com men's All-America teams!
The teams were chosen by D3soccer.com staff, Division III soccer coaches, and sports information directors from a field of more than 500 nominations. This is the ninth year that D3soccer.com has recognized the top men's and women's players from across the nation.
The three men's All-America teams are comprised of 33 total players representing 23 schools and 17 different conferences. Four of those schools—Capital, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Eastern and Ramapo—are represented on our All-America teams, men's or women's, for the first time while three others—Augsburg, Carleton, and Washington & Lee—have their first men's honoree. Five different teams have multiple selections with national runner-up Calvin leading the way with four players named, just the fourth time a team has had four men's All-Americans in the same season.
Seven of this year's honorees are repeat selections, three of whom are three-time D3soccer.com All-Americans: Chicago seniors Max Lopez and Nicco Capotosto and Calvin senior Trent Vegter. The latter, named Defender of the Year for the third year running, is just the second player to earn player of the year honors three times, matching Messiah's Jeremy Payne (2012-2014). Messiah's Luke Groothoff is just the third freshman to be named All-American in the nine-year history of the awards and his selection to the second-team matches the highest level of honor awarded to a first-year player. Finally, the 18 seniors and 11 juniors selected are the second-lowest and second-highest totals for their respective classes.
Nick West of Messiah is the D3soccer.com Forward of the Year. After three years as a winger, the senior became the point of the Falcons' attack in 2018 and delivered with aplomb. The known speedster demonstrated strength, shooting accuracy (.567 SOG pct., .236 shot pct.), and the ability to score in a variety of ways: with his feet and head, from free kicks and the run of play, on breakaways and in a crowd, and with power and placement alike. His 30 goals led the nation and, with six assists to his name, so did his points tally of 66. West found the net in 18 of 23 games, including a 15-game goal-scoring streak that tied the all-time Division III men's record. Involved in more than half the Falcons' goals, scoring 16 times with Messiah tied or trailing, and credited with nine game-winners, West more than anyone ensured that the 11-time champions were title-contenders once again. In the NCAA tournament, he assisted on two goals in the opening round before scoring the final six goals of the Falcons' season, including a hat-trick in the Sweet 16 to bring Messiah back from a two-goal deficit against Cortland State to reach the Elite 8. West would close his collegiate account with an equalizer, not a game-winner, as the Falcons fell 2-1 to Rochester. The All-MAC Commonwealth Offensive Player of the Year was also selected to the CoSIDA Google Cloud Academic All-America Third Team.
The D3soccer.com Midfielder of the Year is Rochester senior Bryce Ikeda. The box-to-box midfielder captained the Yellowjackets to their first-ever Final Four appearance and a program-tying 16 wins along the way. Rochester’s historic campaign got its start with an impassioned speech by Ikeda to teammates immediately following their 2017 Elite 8 loss to Messiah. He vowed that they would return to the Elite 8 the following season and come away with a different result, setting the tone for the hungry and hard-working Yellowjackets. Personally, Ikeda raised his game with career highs of seven goals and seven assists, both team-leading. His four game-winning goals also led the team that was without a proven goal-scorer but did not lack conviction or determination as epitomized by Ikeda. After holding their own in the extremely challenging UAA with Ikeda garnering First Team All-Association honors, the Yellowjackets received an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament where they did indeed return to the Elite 8, thanks in part to Ikeda’s brace of goals in U of R’s 2-0 second round victory over Brockport State. Though Rochester’s opponent was the same, the result, as foretold, was different: a 2-1 Elite 8 victory over Messiah that, regardless of the semifinal loss to Tufts two weeks later, would cement this team’s and their captain’s place in program history. To cap off his season, Ikeda also earned CoSIDA Google Cloud Academic All-America Third Team and USC Scholar All-America Second Team honors.
Calvin's Trent Vegter is the D3soccer.com Defender of the Year . . . one last time. The three-time winner of the award is an extremely athletic and versatile defender with excellent technical ability at both ends of the field. An outside back as a freshman, Vegter anchored the Knights' back line for the past three seasons, exuding calm and composure that, combined with his aforementioned skill and athleticism, makes him one of the premier defenders to play at the Division III level. In 2018, the Knights' defense allowed an average of just 5.45 shots (3rd nationally) and 2.85 shots on goal (8th) per 90 minutes, contributing to a 0.59 goals against average and a return to the national title game for the second time in three years. Under Vegter's leadership, Calvin posted a nation-best 0.50 GAA over the past three seasons, contributing to an unparalleled +3.00 average goal difference during that period. At the attacking end of the field, the 6' 2" center back scored three goals and provided six assists, finishing tied for 10th in Calvin program history with 28 career assists. His long throw-ins and booming kicks added a different element to the Knight’s arsenal. Vegter is a two-time MIAA MVP and was also named CoSIDA Google Cloud Academic All-American and United Soccer Coaches Scholar All-American of the Year following the 2018 season.
The D3soccer.com Goalkeeper of the Year honor goes to AJ Marcucci from Connecticut College. The sophomore has started every game for the Camels since arriving on campus, earning NESCAC Rookie of the Year honors last year and NESCAC Player of the Year honors this year. Marcucci improved upon his excellent .897 save percentage as a freshman, reaching another level this season with a stellar nation-leading .928 save percentage that ranks 14th all-time in men’s Division III soccer. His shot-blocking acumen allowed him to post a miserly 0.28 goals against average, second in the nation. Marcucci helped the Camels record 13 shutouts (72%, 4th nationally), including seven in a row at one point followed shortly thereafter with a scoreless double-overtime draw against eventual national champion Tufts in which Marcucci made six saves. A year after helping Conn. College qualify for just its second NCAA tournament in program history, the 6' 3" netminder was instrumental in what may be the Camels’ best season ever: most wins since 1978 (13), highest finish in the NESCAC standings (2nd), another NCAA berth, and the program’s first NCAA victory. Additionally, Marcucci garnered CoSIDA Google Cloud Academic All-District honors.
The D3soccer.com Coach of the Year is Tufts' ninth-year head coach Josh Shapiro—the first men’s coach to receive the award for a second time. Shapiro, also our 2014 Coach of the Year, led the Jumbos to an undefeated season and another national championship, their third title in five years. Despite falling in the NESCAC quarterfinals for the fourth time in five years, this year’s team, in contrast to his previous two title-winning sides who were very much “on the bubble” for an at-large NCAA berth, was a shoo-in to receive a berth to the tournament and had long been considered among the favorites to lift the Walnut and Bronze in Greensboro, N.C. The Jumbos produced another impressive—and often dominating—tournament run, this one culminating, just as in 2016, in a championship final meeting with Calvin. The Jumbos had too much for the Knights, scoring twice while holding the nation’s most dynamic, high-scoring offense to a single goal for the 2-1 win and Tufts’ third championship—something only four other programs can claim. Shapiro’s 2018 squad represented his second-highest scoring offense (2.19 GSA) and second-stingiest defense (0.50 GAA, 8th nationally) since taking charge. That translated into 18 wins against zero losses with three draws, but as big a factor as any in the Jumbos’ success is the confidence and self-belief throughout the full roster that Shapiro has instilled in developing his program into a national powerhouse and, one could argue, the premier Division III men’s program in the nation.
|2018 MEN'S PLAYERS OF THE YEAR|
|Forward of the Year: Nick West (Sr.), Messiah|
|Midfielder of the Year: Bryce Ikeda (Sr.), Rochester|
|Defender of the Year: Trent Vegter (Sr.), Calvin|
|Goalkeeper of the Year: AJ Marcucci (So.), Connecticut College|
|2018 MEN'S ALL-AMERICANS|
|F||Nick West *||Sr.||Messiah|
|F||Matthew Koh *||Sr.||Chicago|
|F||Max Lopez **||Sr.||Chicago|
|M||Dylan Ritch||Sr.||Washington & Lee|
|D||Trent Vegter **||Sr.||Calvin|
|D||Bret Lowry *||Jr.||Kenyon|
|GK||AJ Marcucci||So.||Connecticut College|
|M||Jake Keller||Jr.||Cortland State|
|M||Nicco Capotosto **||Sr.||Chicago|
|D||Brady Johnston||Jr.||Trinity (Texas)|
|GK||Blake Mullen *||Sr.||St. Joseph's (Maine)|
|M||Zachary Senft||Jr.||Case Western|
|M||Peder Olsen||So.||North Park|
|M||Samuel Ruiz Plaza||Sr.||Messiah|
|D||Cole Rosenberger||Sr.||Johns Hopkins|
|* previous D3soccer.com All-America honors|
|2018 MEN'S COACH OF THE YEAR|
|Josh Shapiro, Tufts (18-0-3) - 2018 National Champion|