For the longest time, NCAA soccer was dominated by the East Coast and Midwestern teams, but it appears that the tides are beginning to turn toward the West Coast a bit. This year, Stanford became the first collegiate program in NCAA history to win both the men’s and women’s national championships in the same year. In fact, the Stanford Cardinal and head coach Jeremy Gunn have won the last three titles on the men’s side, as they are on the breach of establishing a dynasty in Palo Alto. Stanford isn’t the only school out West trying to establish itself as a national power. Pac-12 teams have emerged as some of the strongest in the nation over the last couple decades, and fans shouldn’t expect that to change anytime soon.
NCAA Men’s Soccer Outlook
Prior to 1989, only one school west of St. Louis ever won a men’s NCAA title in soccer. The Steve Negoesco-led San Francisco Dons won four national championships between 1966-1980 but all other West Coast schools were unable to get over the hump. Saint Louis University (10), Indiana University (8), and the University of Virginia (7) are the top three winningest schools in the history of NCAA men’s soccer in terms of titles. Santa Clara University broke through in 1989, and UCLA finally finished on top the following year in 1990 to mark the first time that two different West Coast schools won the title back-to-back. Since then, a West Coast school has either won it all or finished runner-up 15 times in 27 years.
NCAA Women’s Soccer Outlook
Championships weren’t held in NCAA women’s soccer until 1982, and for the first 19 years, only three schools not named North Carolina ever held up the trophy when it was all said and done. None of those schools were located in the West. In fact, it wasn’t until Portland finished runner-up in 1995 that a West Coast team even appeared in a championship game. In 2001, Santa Clara knocked off UNC to win the title, and since then, West Coast teams have won eight titles in 17 years, including four of the last seven.