The conventional wisdom for any college sport says that if you want the best of the best, you look at the NCAA Division 1 teams. Certainly, that’s true when it comes to sports like basketball and football. Those programs have a huge influx of cash to offer more soccer scholarships, and they have the kind of infrastructure necessary to recruit the best players and build dominant teams and are considered to have the best soccer colleges in America. For other sports, like soccer, it’s a little trickier. The best soccer colleges in America aren’t always the NCAA Division 1 Schools. NAIA or NCAA Division 2 schools often have just as serious and quality soccer programs as those NCAA Division 1 schools.
Best NCAA Division 1 Soccer Colleges
That said, some of the best soccer programs are indeed at NCAA division 1 schools. Here is a look at a few schools to consider if you’re interested in playing Division 1 soccer:
Akron - Akron won its first national championship last December. Now, this was Akron’s first national championship in any sport, and the program certainly has some momentum because of it.
Indiana – The Hoosiers of IU have dominated men’s college soccer for many years. They’ve won seven national championships, and hold the record for most wins, most college cup appearances, and highest winning percentages in regular and post-season play.
Creighton – Creighton has not only a solid history, but a consistent one over the past two decades. They’ve been in the NCAA tournament 18 out of the last 19 seasons. They’ve made the College Cup three times, and have had at least one athlete taken into Major League Soccer from 1996 to 2011.
Other NCAA Division 1 schools, like Kansas, Michigan, and North Carolina have consistently strong soccer programs, as well. Louisville, like Akron, lacks a strong history but has performed amazingly well for the past couple of seasons.
Best NAIA Soccer Colleges
NAIA soccer programs compete strongly against NCAA schools. The best NAIA programs
can hold their own against any soccer program in the country, and while not all NAIA
programs are as strong as NCAA programs they do boast some of the best. Here are a
few of the strongest in the NAIA:
Lindsey Wilson – This Kentucky college has an 8-0 all-time Championship finals
record, with 8 titles to its name. The most recent victory was in the 2009 NAIA
Men’s Soccer National Championship in Fresno. This is the second-highest
number of championships after Quincy, which is no longer in the NAIA.
Hastings – Both the men’s and women’s teams from Hastings took their
respective championship trophies in 2010, and Hastings is quickly becoming a
key soccer school in the NAIA.
Lindenwood – The Lions have fared tremendously well in the postseason for the
past several years, and were the HAAC defending champs this past season.
John Brown, St. Gregory’s, and Azusa Pacific are other NAIA soccer colleges worth
looking at, as well.
Ultimately, choosing the right soccer college for you is going to be a process involving a
number of factors, from scholarships to location. The good news is that there are many
strong programs out there, and plenty of opportunity for the gifted student-athlete.