NCAA women notes
Hermann Trophy winner Yamaguchi forgoes senior season to turn pro in Sweden; San Jose State, Villanova name coaches.
| By scoring 24 goals and adding 18 assists, Mami Yamaguchi led NCAA Division I with 66 points.
-- Florida State University photos --
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Wednesday, February 27, 2007) -- Every year, a handful of top men's college players leave school before completing their NCAA eligibility, choosing to pursue professional careers in Major League Soccer or overseas.
This seldom happens with women's players since the United States hasn't had a top professional league since 2003 and lucrative offers from foreign clubs are rare. This did not stop Mami Yamaguchi, winner of the prestigious 2007 Hermann Trophy as the best Division I player, who chose to forego her senior year at Florida State to sign a contract with Sweden's Umea IK, one of the top women's teams in Europe. Details of the deal were not disclosed.
In other women's news, Jeff Leightman was hired as San Jose State coach today, while Villanova yesterday named John Byford, a former assistant there, to be its new coach.
When NCAA men's programs have a top player leave early, the short-term setback can be offset by using the image of professional development to recruit better players. Without generous offers available to the best women's players, they are generally better served to complete their degrees. Thus, there is no upside to Florida State for the loss of its top player from a side considered to be a contender for the Division I championship.
Still, coach Mark Krikorian was magnanimous in the FSU press release announcing Yamaguchi's departure. "We are thrilled for Mami," he said. "It has been a goal and dream of hers to be a professional soccer player. In a way, I hope that Florida State University has contributed to her success."
| Florida State advanced to the College Cup final four in each of Mami Yamaguchi's three seasons and had a 56-14-8 record during her tenure.
-- Florida State University photos --
Yamaguchi, a Tokyo native, led NCAA Division I last season with 66 points after placing second in both goals (24) and assists (18)
The junior striker was vital in the Seminoles' first trip to the NCAA championship match, where FSU (18-6-3) fell 2-0 to Southern California December 9 in College Station, Texas. Yamaguchi had a goal and an assist in FSU's thrilling 3-2 semifinal victory over Notre Dame, while she had three goals and eight assists (a school season-single and career record) over six 2007 tournament games.
Yamaguchi holds the school record for career assists with 30 and is second in points (94) and goals (32). FSU was 56-14-8 (.769) in her three years in Tallahassee and the Seminoles advanced to the national semifinals before losing in her first two seasons.
Umea IK competes in the All-Swedish League and captured UEFA (European) Women's Cup titles in back-to-back seasons of 2002-03 and 2003-04.
Leightman takes over at San Jose State
| Jeff Leightman hoopes to have the same success at San Jose State that he did in 10 years at Binghamton.
-- Binghamton University web site photo --
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Jeff Leightman was named coach of San Jose State University today after leading Binghamton for the last 10 seasons.
Leightman replaces Dave Siracusa, whose contract was not renewed after guiding the Spartans to a 22-51-9 (.323) record over the last four seasons.
Working at his alma mater the last 10 years, Leightman led Binghamton to an overall record of 102-66-1 (.607) as the women's soccer head coach, while claiming the 2004 America East Conference regular-season and tournament championships. Promoted after four seasons as a BU assistant (when the school was in Division III), Leightman oversaw the transition of the Bearcats from Division II to Division I, where they became a force in their league.
"I am incredibly excited to begin a new chapter of San Jose State women's soccer," Leightman said in a school press release. "This new chapter will be about excellence and achieving great success both on the field and in the classroom."
Byford is new Villanova coach
| John Byford returns to Villanova, where he served as an assistant coach from 1995-96.
-- Loyola University of Baltimore web site photo --
John Byford, who was an assistant at Villanova from 1995-96, was named the Wildcats' head coach yesterday.
Byford left Loyola of Baltimore to replace Ann Clifton at Villanova.
Clifton, who resigned January 2 after her side went 11-4-6 in 2007, guided the Wildcats to a 135-65-31 (.652) mark in 11 years at the Philadelphia school. Villanova advanced to the NCAA tournament in five of the last seven seasons and won the 2003 Big East Championship, advancing to the NCAA Tournament Round of 16 that year.
Clifton did not give a reason for her departure.
After spending two years as an assistant, Byford was elevated to Loyola head coach in 2005, proceeding to lead the Greyhounds to the 2007 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament championship and regular season titles in 2005 and 2006. Over those three seasons, Loyola was 35-18-7 (.642)
"Villanova has a great sporting history and the women's soccer program has been a part of that history," Byford said in a school press release. "My ambition is to take this traditionally successful program and make it even more successful over the coming years."
Byford was head coach at St. Joseph's in Philadelphia from 1999-2001.
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