Coven, Spital, Ocel win honors for soccer season

Spital, Ocel named All-Americans

Dara Spital ‘15 (front)

Sam Ocel ’13

Brandeis University men’s soccer coach Mike Coven has been selected as the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) 2012 New England Division III Coach of the Year.

Coven was named the University Athletic Association (UAA) Coach of the Year for the second time earlier this year. He guided Brandeis to a 16-2-1 record in the regular season, including an 11-0-1 start that helped establish a school-record 17-match unbeaten streak, dating to the end of the 2011 season. Brandeis finished 4-2-1 in the UAA to earn – along with three other schools - a share of the league title for the first time in program history.

The Judges did not capture the Association’s automatic berth in the NCAA Division III tournament, but garnered an at-large bid, the team’s first since 1985. Coven’s squad earned the right to host the first two rounds of the tournament. Brandeis defeated Baruch College, 2-0, in the first round on Nov. 10, and Vassar, 1-0, in the second round on Nov. 11, to advance to the sectionals at Amherst College the next weekend. The Judges fell to sectional champion Williams, 1-0, in the Sweet 16 on Nov. 17, ending their season with an 18-3-1 record.

“This was one of my favorite years of coaching, so I’m thrilled to earn this honor,” Coven said. “I was blessed with a great group of seniors and unbelievable fan support that made this season a pleasure.”

In his 40th season on the Brandeis sidelines, Coven owns a career record of 460-249-50 for a .639 winning percentage. He ranks eighth among active Division III coaches in career victories and ninth in all-time wins. Coven has guided the Judges to 10 NCAA tournament appearances and three Final Four berths. His team won the 1976 Division III title, and finish in second place in 1984 and third in 1981. Coven has also made 10 Eastern College Athletic Conference Division III New England tournament appearances, winning titles in 1994, 2006, 2010 and 2011.

Coven is a native of Brookline, Mass., and 1969 graduate of American International College. He currently resides in Duxbury, Mass.

Brandeis University forward Dara Spital ‘15 and forward Sam Ocel ’13 have been selected as third-team Division III All-Americans by the NSCAA for the Judges’ women’s and men’s programs, respectively.

Spital led the Brandeis women to a 16-5-2 record. The Judges reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA Division III tournament with wins over Union (2-1), Lasell (3-0) and Cortland State (2-1), marking the best season in school history. Spital was the team’s leading scorer, with 14 goals and five assists for 33 points. She scored eight game-winning goals this season, tied for fourth in all of Division III. Her game-winners included crucial scores in University Athletic Association (UAA) wins over the University of Rochester on Sept. 29 and New York University on Nov. 3 in Brandeis’s first and last league games of the season. Spital also scored both goals in Brandeis’s 2-1 victory over SUNY-Cortland in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament.

Previously a first-team All-UAA selection, Spital tied for the league lead with 14 goals and tied for second with 33 points. She helped the Judges to a final ranking of eighth in the NSCAA national Division III poll. Spital is the fifth All-American in Brandeis women’s soccer history and second in four years. A transfer from Division I Central Florida, she is the first Brandeis player to be named All-American before her senior season.

Ocel, who was previously named the UAA Player of the Year, helped the Brandeis men to an 18-3-1 record and final ranking of No. 13 by the NSCAA. The Judges qualified for their first NCAA Division III since 1985 and reached the Sweet 16 with wins over Baruch, 2-0, and Vassar, 1-0, before falling to Final Four participant Williams, 1-0, in the sectionals. Ocel accounted for all three Brandeis goals in the post-season including the winner over Vassar with 29.4 seconds left in regulation. He ended up leading the UAA with 34 points and finishing second with 13 goals. Nine of his 13 tallies were game-winners to lead the conference, including three in UAA play.

Ocel ended the 2012 season 15th on Brandeis’s career scoring list with 23 goals and 19 assists for 65 points. He is the sixth different Brandeis player to be named All-American by the NSCAA and fifth under head coach Mike Coven, but the program’s first All-American since 1996. After missing his sophomore campaign with an injury, Ocel will return in 2013 with an additional year of eligibility.

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