In the early years of its development, college soccer was the bastard child of university athletics within the United States. It was constantly overlooked in favor of more popular sports such as football and basketball, and much of the potential talent pool elected to skip college and devote their time to preparation for the pro ranks.
That all started to change in recent years, as the success of the women’s national team in the World Cup and the Olympics has brought extra attention to the sport. In 2003, the average men’s soccer program on the university level lost$50,000 per year, with their female counterparts losing around $80,000. By 2011, those numbers were cut in half.
At that rate, U.S. collegiate soccer should actually be generating a profit with a few decades. When that happens, expect the sport to become as synonymous with college athletics as baseball and tennis. It might even overtake football or basketball one day, although I doubt it will be in my lifetime.
While the objective in each version of the game is to kick the ball into the opposing goal, there remain distinct differences between the soccer rules of FIFA and the NCAA. Here are some of the most notable:
Commonly referred to as the College Cup, this annual 48-team tournament determines the best college soccer squad in the United States. The origins of the event go back to 1959, although it was only an eight-team tournament in the early days.
Throughout the history of the tournament, the most successful program has been the Saint Louis Billikens. They’ve captured a total of 10 titles, although all of these wins came from 1959 to 1973.
In the modern era, the second and third-place teams on the list have enjoyed more recent success. Indiana (8 titles) won in 2003, 2004, and 2012, while Virginia (7 titles) took home the trophy in 2009 and 2014.
Known as the Women’s College Cup, this single-elimination tournament is held annually to determine the best female team on the collegiate level. Debuting in 1982 with only 12 teams, it has since grown to include 64 squads from across the nation.
The North Carolina Tar Heels have been the most successful school, capturing 21 championships and making 32 tournament appearances. They won consecutively from 1986 until 1994, and their most recent victories came in 2009 and 2012. Anson Dorrance has been their coach the entire time, coming aboard when North Carolina introduced their women’s soccer program in 1979.
Only two other schools have managed multiple titles. The first is the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame with three wins, while the second is the Portland Pilots with a pair of championships.
Many of the women’s World Cup players from the United States have attended college and competed in the tournament. These include notable figures such as Mia Hamm, Abby Wambach, and Hope Solo.
Betting action on collegiate soccer is sporadic, as the sport continues to fight for mainstream acceptance in the minds of the American people. The College Cup may draw some action, but most sportsbooks neglect regular season games in favor of other athletic events. If you’re keen on betting on college soccer, you’ll need to do some searching to find a sportsbook that can accommodate you.
While college soccer has a growing fanbase in the United States, it’s still stunted by the overall lack of enthusiasm for the sport. Americans tend to think of soccer as a “foreign” sport, and the only time it generates significant interest in the mainstream is when a national team manages to advance past the opening stages of World Cup or Olympic play.
Despite this fact, the number of soccer programs at the collegiate level continues to grow. While some of the top male players elect to bypass college in order to chase a professional career, it’s quite common for elite female athletes to pursue success in both the classroom and on the field.