Noontime Sports 2016 Year In Review


By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11)

Ah, the final day of 2016 has arrived.

And just like past years, it’s time to revisit some of our favorite stories from the past 12 months.

Yet, unlike past years, this year’s ‘year in review’ is made-up of a variety of stories from ‘Catching Up’ to features on the Amherst College and Endicott College football programs to Wheaton women’s basketball providing Coach Melissa Hodgdon with her 200th win as a head coach.

I also made sure to highlight a few podcasts from the past few months – yes, Noontime Sports the Podcast returned this summer and I am super excited to host the 16th episode, which will be posted later next week.

So, sit back, relax, and re-read or listen to some of our biggest posts from 2016, and have a wonderful and safe Happy New Year!

See you in 2017!

Brandeis’ Mike Coven Announces Retirement After 44 Seasons With The Judges

Brandeis men's soccer coach Mike Coven announced his retirement on Friday, December 9th following 44 years on the sidelines with the Judges. (PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy Mark Vieira)

Brandeis men’s soccer coach Mike Coven announced his retirement on Friday, December 9th following 44 years on the sidelines with the Judges. (PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy Mark Vieira)

By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11

It was announced yesterday that Brandeis University men’s soccer coach Mike Coven would be retiring from the sidelines, effectively Saturday, December 31, 2016.

Coven, who coached the Judges for 44 seasons, concludes his career ranked sixth all-time in Division III men’s soccer coaching with 526 wins.

His 526 victories rank him 10th among all NCAA soccer coaches regardless of division, according to the athletic department’s release.

Over the past 44 seasons, Coven guided the Judges to 14 NCAA Tournaments, including a quartet of final four appearances and one national championship in 1976. Additionally, Coven led Brandeis to four Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) championships (1994, 2006, 2010 and 2011), while earning a trio of University Athletic Association (UAA) Coach of the Year Awards.

“Brandeis has been a special place for me,” Coven said in the athletic department’s release. “The support I’ve seen over the years – from the administrators, from alumni and from the student-body – has made this place into a real soccer school. I will miss it tremendously.”

This past season, Coven navigated the Judges to a 13-6-4 overall record, along with the program’s fourth appearance in the final four – their first since 1984. Brandeis edged last year’s champion, Amherst, in the round of 16 (won in PK’s) before defeating Rutgers-Newark the following day (4-2) en route to the national semifinals.

Brandeis’ run toward the program’s second national crown came up short against Calvin last Friday, December 2 as the Knights defeated the Judges, 1-0.

“We had fans out there: alumni, the student body, the vice president of the University, all sorts of administrators, and we had tremendous support,” Coven said following his team’s one-goal deficit in the national semifinals. “Vocal, and great. And it’s not just this year. I’ve been very fortunate to work at a school … where soccer has been a main priority.”

Catching Up With Brandeis Men’s Soccer Head Coach Mike Coven, Discussing Win No. 500

Brandeis University men's soccer head coach Mike Coven claimed his 500th victory on the sidelines last Saturday when he his team defeated Babson College in double-overtime. (Photo Credit: Jim Pierce/

Brandeis University men’s soccer head coach Mike Coven claimed his 500th victory on the sidelines last Saturday when he his team defeated Babson College in double-overtime. (Photo Credit: Jim Pierce/


Last Saturday, the Brandeis University men’s soccer team delivered head coach Mike Coven his 500th career victory by defeating Babson College in double-overtime by a score of 1-0.

Coven, who has paced the Brandeis sidelines for 43 seasons, became the sixth NCAA Division III head coach to reach the 500-win mark. He is the 11th NCAA coach to reach the milestone and is the second-longest active head coach in college athletics behind Division II Rockhurst College’s Tony Tocco – he is currently in his 44th season.

“It was great for the team, it was great for me personally, but now you have to forget about it and move forward,” said Coven in a phone interview earlier this week.

Noontime Sports caught up with Coven earlier this week to discuss his 500th career victory on the sidelines and below is our conversation with the tenured coach.

Noontime Sports: Tell us a little more about this victory. Your team needed double-overtime to defeat Babson, so it must have been an exciting feeling when Jake Picard headed-in the game-winning goal?

Mike Coven: “It all worked out. Years and years ago before there were conferences and everybody played everybody we played Division I schools, Division II schools and (Division) III schools, but the premiere Division III matchup every year – not just regionally, but nationally – was the Brandeis-Babson game. In 1975 they won a national championship and in 1976 we won the national championship, and we used to recruit out of the same areas, so a lot of the guys on both teams had played against each other in high school and club. There were even times when we each had one brother (playing on each team) so it was a great, great rivalry. (Babson head coach) Jon Anderson actually played on the first couple of Babson teams that I coached against and we remain very close today. Our families socialize and everything, so it kind of came full-circle (in winning my 500th game). It was a home game; it was a Saturday night game where we get very good crowds and (we were playing) Babson. It was a typical Brandeis-Babson game, which goes back-and-forth and it goes into sudden death overtime. We were fortunate to win it, but the whole scenario was great.”

NS: What was the build-up like going into the Brandeis-Babson game? Did you know a win would provide you with 500 victories?

MC: “I knew I was coming up to my 500th victory, but I didn’t know (when it would be) or kept track, but my wife (did), so she really knew when it was going to happen. (The athletic department) built up the excitement with win number 498 and 499, but I was just more concerned with how we played, so I was more concerned about winning the game because Babson is a good team.”

NS: Has the past 43 years on the sidelines gone by fast?

MC: “It has gone by (fast), it is hard to believe that I have been (at Brandeis) for 43 years. I have a freshman forward name Andrew Allen on my team and his dad played here, so I have had two situations where I have coached both the dad and the son. I can remember recruiting (Andrew’s) father, but now I am recruiting his son, so it has gone by so fast and it is unbelievable with how fast it went.”

NS: What do you remember about that first national championship victory in 1976? What memories remain from that exciting overtime win over Brockport?

MC: “I can still see the (game-winning) goal and it building up and even before we scored I saw the (play develop), so at that point I knew we were going to win. At this point (in the match) it was like two seconds before the ball went into the back of the net. I will remember (that game-winning goal) forever. When you win a national championship as a team – the team stays very, very close (afterward). One of the captains, Rob Muller, who lives in New York, calls me on the anniversary of the national championship. I don’t remember the date – I think it was November 20 – but he calls me every day on that date. Murray Greenberg, who was the goalie on the national championship team, he started as a freshman my first-year here (in 1973), so he was the goalie of my first victory at Brandeis. Michael Shannon, who was one of the captains on the national championship team, lives in Houston and we had just played at Trinity in San Antonio over the weekend, and he came to the game and we made him honorary captain, so he went out for the coin toss.”

NS: What makes playing soccer for Brandeis so special?

MC: “There is no football here, so the university has always appreciated a good soccer team and has pushed for a good soccer team, so the student body follows us pretty well, we have good fan support and the administration certainly follows us as well and supports us well. Our conference – the University Athletic Association (UAA) – we travel all over the country and two weekends ago we went to Texas for four days to play, so not many schools emphasize the game as much as we do. Since I have been here we have joined the UAA, we got a new soccer facility, the gym is not new, but it newer than the one when I first started, so it is a great place to work and they treat me very well here.”

NS: Last question, Coach. Would it be the ideal storybook ending to win a championship the same year you earned your 500th career win?

MC: “I would like to. Last year’s team could have won (it all). We went to the (elite) eight and lost to SUNY Oneonta. Tufts University won it all and we had beaten Tufts (last season), 2-0. So, you look at the (landscape of Division III men’s soccer) and say, ‘hey, it can really happen.’ That is our goal, we want to win a national championship and I think Brandeis will win a national championship again soon. It is very possible, we’re not that far away right now.”

Extra Thoughts: Revisting Headlines From The Past Week In College Sports

By Matt Noonan

Roughly one or two years ago, we started a weekly column called, “The Sunday Column.” Very catchy, eh?

Well, I’ve officially decided to revamp it, and going forward it’ll be called, “Extra Thoughts.”

Basically, this will be a once a week piece where I provide some insight or thoughts pertaining toward issues or news from the college sports world in Massachusetts.

And without further ado, here are some extra thoughts to kick start your Sunday:

* Keep your eyes pealed on our blog this week, as we’ll be revisiting some of our favorite blogs, articles and stories from this past year. Did you have a favorite? If so, let us know!

* Earlier this week we started a new weekly post with links from across the web. Did you like it? I certainly enjoyed learning more about some of the athletes we cover, especially Dani Rylan, the former Northeastern University women’s ice hockey player, who now runs a coffee shop by herself in East Harlem, New York.

* In today’s Boston Globe, I learnedthat the National Soccer Coaches Association of America named Brandeis University men’s soccer coach Mike Coven this year’s New England Division III Coach of the Year. Coven, who hails from Duxbury, enjoyed a really successful 40th season, as the Judges concluded their campaign with an 18-3-1 record and shared its first University Athletic Association crown. Brandeis made it to the NCAA’s Sweet 16, but was ousted by Williams College.

* I know I have mentioned this before, but I want to congratulate WPI’s men’s basketball team on a terrific start. The Engineers are 10-0, and have earned some impressive wins against Fitchburg State, Husson College, Rhode Island College and Salem State.

* Can the Northeastern men’s ice hockey team rebound in January? They’re currently riding a two-game losing streak and have a lot of ground to make up. Boston College continues to be the toast of the Hockey East, but on their tail is Boston University and New Hampshire.

* Lastly, I was saddened to hear the news via that Lasell College is currently mourning the passing of Sean Bertanza, who played for the men’s basketball team. Through nine games this season, Bertanza averaged close to 21 points per game, and was a major contributor for the Lasers in their only win this season.

As noted in the college’s press release, “Sean left his mark on the Newton campus with his exploits on the basketball court, but will be remembered even more fondly for his role as a loyal and caring individual to everyone he came into contact with in the campus community.”

I never had a chance to meet Sean, but want to extend my thoughts during this time to everyone at Lasell College.

Happy Holidays to everyone and make sure to check back next week for our second installment.