Motley Crew Turned into Perennial MIAC Soccer Champs, Hall of Famers Posted on November 9th, 2020 by

From left: Hall of Famers Pachi Lopez, Terry Cottingham, and John Porter

Skilled foreign students, restless hockey players, frustrated football players, curious first-years, and a few faculty – this motley crew comprised the first men’s soccer club team at Gustavus in 1966.

“Many of the players were sent in by the hockey coach [Don Roberts],” says Horst Ludwig, a German professor who developed and coached the first soccer team at Gustavus. “We were just playing because we were not organized and he was sending his hockey players to give them physical exercise before he was allowed to work with them. What I saw was, for my taste, they were much too rough. They knew hockey and football, but they didn’t know anything about the elegance of soccer.”

It didn’t take long for this group of misfits to learn the “elegance” of soccer. In 1969, Gustavus’s first year of soccer competition in the MIAC, the Gusties won the conference championship with a 4-0-1 league record. Ludwig had a great impact with his soccer knowledge and leadership, but admits that some of his players were naturally gifted.

John Porter [’71], he was the greatest player in my history there,” Ludwig says of the Gustavus Athletics Hall of Famer. “That guy was a born sportsman. I later learned that in his high school he had never played tennis, they gave him a racket and he became the tennis champion of his high school right away. Whatever you told him, he could do it. I had never seen somebody be able to run so fast. He could run, he could do everything. He learned how to play soccer right away and became the greatest field player I ever coached outside of Pachi.”

Pachi Lopez, also a 1971 grad and Hall of Famer, was an integral piece in Gustavus’s success during its formative soccer years. Lopez ranks fourth in program history with 42 career goals and fifth in points with 94.

“Pachi was an interesting player coming from South America,” Ludwig said. “He was tremendously good at dribbling the ball and having a tremendous kick so I put him at left defense. He could kick the ball from the defense all the way to the forward line. He wanted to be a forward and I didn’t want him to be a forward because I needed a guy with a strong kick in the back. When he played forward he got so excited that all his kicks were so strong and had a tendency of going high.”

Terry Cottingham ’73, was the first soccer player inducted into the Hall of Fame. Nearly 50 years after his graduation, Cottingham still holds program records with 173 career points, 70 career goals, and 26 goals in a season (1970). He was also the third leading scorer in the nation in 1970 and finished among the top ten scorers in the country his sophomore, junior, and senior seasons.

Ludwig describes Cottingham as a very good forward who could keep a hard shot low, which is no easy task. But Cottingham’s aggressive approach to the game sometimes did not fare well with opposing teams.

In just five years as head coach of the soccer team, Ludwig coached four Hall of Famers. Larry Shelhamer ’76, the fourth, was a prolific scorer ranking first in career assists (38), second in career goals (61) and second in career points (160). Ludwig also credits Dan Hanson ’73 and Jim Zils ’73 with building a championship program from the onset.

“Danny Hanson did much more for our winning than the forwards,” Ludwig said. “The fact he didn’t allow the other teams to score is extraordinary. Jim Zils should be recognized with the greatest improvement being a great player on the first team.”

In the first four years competing in the MIAC, the Gusties won four league championships, posted an overall record of 40-4-5, and went 29-1-4 in the conference. Not bad for a group of skilled foreign students, restless hockey players, frustrated football players, and curious first-years.


One Comment

  1. Gretchen Koehler says:

    they were great payers I got to watch