The Division I men’s soccer championship isn’t far away and conference tournaments will begin in just two short weeks, which provides a good time to look at this season’s top performers so far.
There are several top players that make up national championship and conference championship contenders. Here are five players in men’s college soccer that have put together stellar seasons.
*Note: This list does not reflect the current outlook for the Hermann Trophy or other awards.
Andre Shinyashiki - Forward, Denver
The reigning Summit League player of the year has been by far the most prolific offensive player in the NCAA this season. Denver’s Andre Shinyashiki has scored a ridiculous 21 goals through 14 games with two assists. He has recorded four hat tricks this season, including a game in which he scored four goals against Nebraska-Omaha.
Shinyashiki is the nation’s leader in total goals, total points, points per game, goals per game, game-winning goals, shots per game and shots on goal per game. In late September, he had more goals than all but 12 Division teams. He still has scored more than three-fourths of DI teams. The Brazilian is truly having an all-time great season.
Jake Rudel - Forward, St. Mary’s
St. Mary’s is the only remaining undefeated team left in DI soccer and Jake Rudel is a big reason for that. The junior forward was the leading scorer (six goals, 13 points) on last year’s team that went 6-6-5. This season, he has improved to 12 goals and 3 assists (27 points) through 13 games on the nation’s highest scoring team.
Rudel needs five more goals to break the single-season school record set in 1990. He ranks sixth in the nation in total points and is tied for fourth with five game-winning goals.
JJ Williams - Forward, Kentucky
No. 3 Kentucky has emerged as a true national title contender, much to do with its 3-0 win against No. 2 Indiana in which JJ Williams had a pair of goals. Williams has emerged as one of the most prolific goal-scorers in the country in his first year starting with the Wildcats.
At 6-4, Williams can do a lot of his damage in the air, but he’s also an efficient passer with three assists to go along with his team-high 10 goals. The junior forward is tied for second nationally in game-winning goals, tied for ninth in goals and tied for 10th in points.
Bruno Lapa - Midfielder, Wake Forest
There are just so many weapons on the field for No. 1 Wake Forest. However, its most important player is arguably midfielder Bruno Lapa.
Lapa is the ultimate distributor, which is needed on a team that has so many scoring options. The junior leads the Deacons with eight assists and is one behind the team lead with nine goals. Lapa is tied for eighth in DI with 26 points through 14 games.
Benji Michel - Forward, Portland
The Portland Pilots are one of few unbeaten teams remaining and have jolted to No. 9 in the rankings behind the play of Benji Michel. The junior has now posted double-digit goals in his first three seasons at Portland and ranks tied for second in the country with six game-winning goals this year.
Michel has been about as consistent a goal-scorer as anyone in college soccer. If Portland makes a run in the NCAA tournament, look for Michel to be one of the tournament’s leading scorers.
Honorable mention: Cal Jennings (F, UCF), Andrew Gutman (D, Indiana), Daniele Proch (M, Duke), Tucker Bone (M, Air Force).