MEDFORD – After guiding the Tufts University men's soccer team to its third NCAA championship in the last five years, the Jumbo coaches have been selected as the United Soccer Coaches National Staff of the Year for 2018.
The award winner was determined by a vote of other Division III coaches and reflects the value they placed on the Jumbos' performance throughout the year. The award will be presented during the United Soccer Coaches convention in Chicago January 9-13, 2019.
Tufts' staff consists of head coach Josh Shapiro, assistant coaches Jordan Ciuffetelli and Matt Zinner, and goalkeeping coach Fernando Valencia.
That group directed Tufts to an undefeated (18-0-3) record during the fall which included a 2-1 victory over Calvin College in the NCAA Championship Game on December 1 in Greensboro, North Carolina. Tufts defeated Rochester 3-1 in the national semifinals the day before.
Tufts received one of two first-round byes into the 2018 NCAA Tournament and hosted the NCAA Regional and Sectional rounds at Bello Field. Wins over Stevens (1-0), Amherst (3-0) and Montclair State (4-0) had put Tufts into its third "Final Four."
The brown and blue went undefeated (8-0-2) in the competitive New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), which has produced four of the last five NCAA champions (Tufts 2018, 2016 & 2014, Amherst 2015). The Jumbos earned the #1 seed for the conference championship tournament. They also won all five of their regular-season non-conference games.
In the final NCAA statistics for 2018, Tufts was ranked eighth nationally with their 0.50 goals against average. Additionally, the Jumbos' 46 goals this fall were the most by a Tufts team since the 2014 national champions tallied 49. Tufts' 2.60 goals per game in NCAA play this season, which was fourth-best among the tournament field, is another sign of team's offensive improvement.
The Jumbos had five players recognized as All-NESCAC, including three on the first team. Three were United Soccer Coaches All-Region first team selections. Junior striker Joe Braun was announced as a United Soccer Coaches first team All-American.
Three Tufts players received United Soccer Coaches Scholar All-America honors, more than any other team in the nation. Nine team members earned NESCAC All-Academic recognition for carrying cumulative grade point averages of 3.50 or better this fall.
Shapiro is in his ninth season as head coach of the Jumbos. Ciuffetelli is the team's top assistant for the second year. Zinner, who played for Shapiro's NCAA championship teams in 2014 and 2016, is in his first year on staff. Valencia is in his third year as goalkeeping coach.