NCAA Division 1 has 203 nationally ranked teams, 13 of which are in Upstate New York in 7 different athletic conferences. Teams are ranked according to the Rankings Percentage Index (RPI) was released today, a system in based on a school’s record and the strength of their schedule.
The 13 Upstate Division 1 Men’s Soccer programs from a variety of conferences finished the 2011 season with varying degrees of success. SUNY Binghamton (154) and SUNY Albany (156) play in America East. Syracuse (179) plays in the Big East. Niagara (105), Siena (173), Marist (122), and Canisius (197) play in Metro Atlantic. Hartwick (108) and Universtity at Buffalo (146) play in Mid-American. Colgate (90) and Army (177) play in Patriot. Cornell (64) plays in Ivy. St Bonaventure (198) plays in Atlantic 10.
In the full list of rankings for the 2011 season can be found here. The best represented conference is the Atlantic Coast, which has 3 teams in the top 10. Sadly my college (Hamilton) does not have a Division 1 athletic program, but I will be following these 13 teams throughout the season and living vicariously through their relative successes. Somehow the NCAA secured a TV deal with Fox Soccer Channel to broadcast a couple games a week for the duration of the college soccer season. Unfortunately none of the Upstate schools will be broadcast this year.
Every year after the MLS Draft, dozens of promising college soccer talents are signed by the MLS club while several others are waived. Some of these players wind up in the lower divisions of American soccer like Rhinos break out star J.C. Banks. Others still opt to ply their trade in Europe with Scandinavia still a popular destination.
Le Moyne, Pace, Saint Rose, and Adelphi are all members of the Division II Northeast-10 Conference. Roberts Wesleyan College participates in the East Coast Conference and Daemen College is trying to solidify its place in Division II.
Upstate New York boasts a wide array of Division III schools. Medaille, D’Youville, and Hilbert play in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference. Alfred University, Elmira, Ithaca, Nazareth, St John Fisher, Utica, and Houghton make up the bulk of the Empire 8 Conference. The Liberty League features St Lawrence, Union, Rochester Institute of Technology, RPI, Hobart, Skidmore, Vassar, and Clarkson. Hamilton College (my delightful little school) is the sole New York state representative in the New England Small College Athletic Conference. Cazenovia, Keuka, SUNY-Cobleskill, SUNY-IT, SUNY-Morrisville, and Wells compete in the North Eastern Athletic Conference. The State University of New York Athletic Conference holds Buffalo State, Brockport, Cortland, Fredonia, Geneseo, New Paltz, Oneonta, Oswego, Plattsburgh, and Potsdam. University of Rochester plays in the University Athletic Association.
Western New York is also home to a few highly successful junior college programs that participate in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). The Western New York Athletic Conference features nine area junior colleges: Alfred State College, Bryant & Stratton College, Erie Community College, Genesee Community College, Jamestown Community College, Jamestown Community College – Cattaraugus County, Mercyhurst North East Junior College, Monroe Community College, and Niaraga County Community College.
Clearly one person can not follow all of these 13 Division I schools, 6 Division II, 36 Division III, and 9 area junior colleges by himself. I do plan on keeping tabs on the NCAA Division I programs as well as the WNY Athletic Conference as Genesee Community College tries to get back to the NJCAA Championship Game. The majority of FC Buffalo’s roster has traditionally been Buffalo and Rochester area college stand-outs, so outstanding players in Division II and III schools may earn a look with the National Premier Soccer League team. The 2012 college soccer season is upon us and we just may see a few future professionals lining up for area colleges this year.