Soccer thrives through a half-century at Vermont

The UVM men’s soccer program celebrated its 50th anniversary this past season. The program has come a long way since long-time coach and 1996 UVM’s Hall of Fame special inductee Harold “Hal” Greig made the program a reality in 1964. 

In the fall of 1964, Greig put the first varsity men’s soccer team out on the field. The Catamount’s first game ended in a lost to Middlebury College with a score of 4-1. The team’s first win wasn’t until they faced off against St. Michael’s College with a score of 3-1. Vermont then successfully won five straight Yankee Conference titles and had a record of 36-10-1 for their first five years. 

During his rein as coach Greig produced five future Hall of Famers-Jeff Taft, Bill Willey, Peter Baldwin, Jack Semler, and John Hilton. 

“Hal was a tremendous teacher, able to relate to his players very well,” J. Edward Donnelly, former UVM’s Director of Athletics said. “Hal was able to establish a great rapport and still was stern enough to keep the players respect.”

Greig’s legacy still thrives today as the annual men’s soccer coaches’ award is named in his tribute, the Hal Greig Award, which goes to a player who does the most for the program

In the 1983 season, football was no longer played at the varsity level at UVM and soccer became the fall sport to attend. Students would brave the cold and gather at Centennial Field to cheer on the Catamounts in their season matchups.
   “We may not have been the most skilled team on the field for all games, but our heart and determination gave us a decided advantage when we needed it,” Francis “Skip” Gilbert, 1993 UVM Hall of Fame inductee said.”

“Each of my seasons at UVM will be forever imprinted into my memory.  In my junior year  we made a tremendous run against the University of Connecticut in the National Collegiate Athletic Association . They went on to win the NCAA Championship, which is a loss that still hurts, but what a great overall experience,” Gilbert said. 

“Personally, that year was also the first of my two years being elected first team D1 All-American.  Getting that call from Coach Reinhardt telling me of that award was pretty memorable,” Gilbert said.

The men’s varsity soccer program continues to flourish today under the coaching staff of head coach Jesse Cormier. Cormier has led the Catamounts to a 2007 NCAA Tournament Second Round, 2007 American East Tournament Champions and  in 2012 the America East Regular Season Champions. In 2012 Cormier was awarded with the American East Coaching Staff of the Year.

Cormier is the first alum of the university to be named head coach. In 1992, as a sophomore Cormier led the Catamounts to a conference title game as part of the America East All-Championship Team.  As a senior he was recognized with All- New England honors and named as the team’s most valuable player. 

In the current season, the Catamounts tied this past weekend 1-1 after 2 overtimes against UMass Lowell. Vermont’s next game will be played on the road against Stony Brook Nov. 2 at 7pm.