College men's soccer: Top returning stat leaders to circle for 2016 season
With the college men's soccer season beginning on Friday, teams are gearing up to compete for the coveted Men's College Cup trophy.
While many top players have graduated or gone on to have professional careers, a team can certainly get a boost from players who dominated the box scores last season. Here are the top returning statistic leaders in Division I this season.
Gordon Wild (Maryland) and David Olsen (Seattle) | 16 goals
Wild exploded for 16 goals at USC Upstate, but the Germany native transferred to Maryland in the offseason. It will be interesting to see how Wild performs with the Terps, who spread their offense amongst their players evenly last season. But the sophomore has already shown a glimpse of what he can do production-wise after scoring two goals and one assist in a 6-2 exhibition match against Tulsa last week.
David Olsen finished just behind Wild with 33 points but matched his offensive output last season. Olsen's 16 goals broke the Seattle program mark set by Miguel Gonzalez back in 2013. The junior forward was selected as the WAC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year while he was also named to the MAC Hermann Trophy watch list.
Drew Shepherd | Western Michigan | Jr. Keeper | .879 save percentage and .327 GAA
After starting in just eight games as a freshman, Drew Shepherd earned more playing time in 2015 and his numbers saw terrific improvement. Shepherd allowed only four goals to record a .327 goals against average for the lowest among Division I keepers last season. The Michigan native also tallied a .879 save percentage that ranked second in Division I. Shepherd had quite the summer in the premier development league as the keeper won the PDL championship with the Michigan Bucks.
Corey Baird (Stanford and Joey Piatczyc West Virginia | 13 assists
Corey Baird and Eric Verso each notched 13 assists for Stanford last season, becoming the first pair of Cardinal teammates to accomplish the feat since 1978. But with Verso graduated and Jordan Morris now in the MLS, Baird will be heavily relied on to carry out Stanford's offensive game plan if the Cardinal hopes to repeat as College Cup champions.
Piatczyc did not suffer any form of a sophomore slump in 2015 as the midfielder shattered West Virginia's single-season assist record. The Kansas native averaged nearly .68 assists per game for the Mountaineers and just trailed Fabian Herbers for the best assist average in Division I. After the growth he experienced in 2015, there is no telling what's in store for the midfielder this season. Piatcyzc appeared in all 19 games for the Mountaineers and led the team with 17 points.
Harrison Veith | Central Arkansas | Jr. Keeper | 91 saves
Since many of the saves leaders from 2015 have graduated, Central Arkansas' Harrison Veith takes the spot as the returning saves leader in Division I. The junior from Richmond, Texas, ranked seventh last season with 91 saves on the year. His 5.06 saves per game also landed him 10th among all Division I keepers last year. Veith started in all 18 games and finished with a 2.55 goals against average. Veith and the Bears hope to make a second straight appearance in the Missouri Valley tournament.
Nick DePuy | UC Santa Barbara | Sr. Forward | 8 game-winning goals
Nick DePuy led Division I with eight game-winning goals and his heroics for the Gauchos didn't go unnoticed. DePuy collected Big West Offensive Player of the Year honors for the second year in a row and was also named a MAC Hermann semifinalist. Half of his game-winners in 2015 came during a four-game span from Sept. 27 through Oct. 10 for the Gauchos.
DePuy already has 14 career game-winning goals which ranks second in school history and third in Big West History. The forward will surely look to add on to his totals in his final season.