Now in its 64th season as a varsity sport, Middlebury soccer has developed a long, proud and very competitive tradition. Under the direction of 33-year head coach David Saward, who retired on December 31, 2017, the team won three New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Championships since the tournament’s inception in 2000 and two ECAC titles in 1986 and 1999. The team has also played in more than half of all NESCAC Tournament title games. Long-time assistant coach and alumni Alex Elias '09 took over the program from Saward in January of 2018.
The Panthers have appeared in NCAA Tournaments 14 times with three NCAA Elite Eight appearances in 2007, 2008 and 2010. In 2007, the Panthers claimed the NCAA Championship with an 18-2-2 record. Coach Saward was selected as Division III National Coach of the Year in 2007 and has been selected as the Regional Coach of the Year on seven other occasions.
In addition to outstanding team accomplishments on the field, the Middlebury soccer program also boasts a tremendous record of developing players, including four NESCAC Players of the Year in John Giannacopoulos (1999), Brian Bush (2008), Harrison Watkins (2010) and Greg Conrad (2014), three NESCAC Rookies of the Year, over 90 All-New England Players and more than 30 All-Americans.
Being a Middlebury soccer player is about much more than wins or accolades. Players who have the privilege of being a part of the Panther soccer family become ambassadors for the program both during and after their Middlebury tenure, and have an unmatched record of giving back to the game. The Middlebury soccer coaching legacy can be seen throughout the nation at the collegiate and club level. Middlebury soccer alumni currently include head and assistant coaches at more than half of the NESCAC men’s soccer programs.
Outside of the conference, former Middlebury players are coaching at Clemson University, Brown University, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, the University of Vermont, the University of Massachusetts, Bard College, Norwich University and Manhattanville College. Middlebury alumni at the high school, youth and club level include directors of coaching and staff coaches at more than 10 clubs nationwide.
True to Middlebury’s institutional mission of cultivating ethical leaders committed to informed citizenship and active service on the local, national, and international level, the men’s soccer alumni have fully embraced the responsibility of service following graduation. In the past decade alone, Middlebury soccer has produced over a dozen players who have given years of service to non-profit organizations, such as Grassroots Soccer, Peace Corps and Teach For America. These volunteers committed themselves to serving underprivileged populations worldwide.
This culture of engaged citizenship, athletic achievement and a passion for the game is actively cultivated. It is a value of which the Middlebury soccer alumni, current players and coaching staff are extremely proud. The program seeks to consciously recruit young men who desire this type of community and leadership.