The following will appear in the forthcoming fall issue of Seattle University Magazine.
Hot off the heels of their first Sweet 16 appearance in Division I NCAA history, the men's soccer program has more to celebrate than the remarkable success of the Redhawks' (18-4-1) 2015 season. This fall marks the 50th Anniversary for the men's soccer program at Seattle University.
Visit the grandeur of SU's Championship Field for a match today, with its well-groomed green grass, bright stadium lights and 650 covered seats and it's hard to imagine a time when the program didn't regularly inspire a second look.
However rich in history and talent, men's soccer has come along way from its humble beginnings. In 1967, a student-led vote (368-225) ended victoriously in favor of adding varsity soccer. They were only granted $1,500 in funding, but student athletes like Joe Zavaglia and Jim Lynch got the program off the ground. The first tryout, led by newly appointed head coach Hugh McArdle, seemed like a good turnout with more than 70 players present at Broadway Playfield. Twenty players were selected and issued softball uniforms in lieu of decent soccer uniforms. At that time, home games were played at Lower Woodland Park, next to the zoo.
The men’s soccer team kicks off its 2016 campaign this Friday, Aug. 26 against West Virginia in the Akron Classic. Click here for the fall schedules for all of our student-athletes.
A lot has changed over the years, but for Coach Peter Fewing, who first joined the program as head coach in 1988, one thing still remains the same. "The brotherhood of the guys and the commitment to the program, whether they played 10 years ago or 20 years ago, is very strong," he says, adding that "the loyalty and the drive to make Seattle U proud is even stronger."
Standout players like Tom Hardy, who helped the Redhawks take the NAIA national championship in 1997, and First Team All-American Bobby McAlister, who helped guide the Redhawks to their first Division II national title in 2004, brought recognition to the program.
Brad Agoos, who took the reigns as head coach from 2006 to 2011, achieved back-to-back GNAC titles and two straight NCAA Division II tournament appearances before seeing the Redhawks through their transition into full Division I status. In 2007, midfielder John Fishbaugher was named First Team All-America.
"The quality of people that have played on this field and stood on the sidelines, I have the utmost respect for," Fewing says.
In 2012, Fewing returned to coach the Redhawks and in fall 2013, a 2-1 victory against powerhouse Creighton for its first Division I NCAA tournament win put the Redhawks back on the map. From there, they went on to dominate national soccer powerhouses such as Northwestern, UCLA, Harvard and home-town rival Washington. And this past season, the program reached a new milestone and level of excellence as they advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time in Seattle University history before falling to Syracuse University 3-1.
What lies ahead for this ambitious program? This season presents a demanding schedule, but it doesn't faze the coach.
"We have an experienced team returning and we're very motivated," says Fewing. "With great demand comes great opportunity. It will prepare us better than any other way for the NCAA tournament, one game at a time."