Of SIU Edwardsville's 17 NCAA championships, the first came in Division II men's soccer. The first — and only — in Division I also came in men's soccer. The Cougars beat Clemson 3-2 on Dec. 9, 1979, in the sports moment judged the greatest in school history.
The Cougars triumphed after a difficult start. Head coach Bob Guelker underwent open-heart surgery three weeks before the season and the team lost the first two games after his return.
They dropped out of the polls. Sports Illustrated captured the season's turning point:
Guelker decided to take action. He benched Striker Don Ebert, the team's star, and Midfielder Dave Hummert for a game after the two mouthed off at a team meeting. "Ebert's mouth was the biggest thing going on the field at that time," says Guelker. "He was trying to help but instead he was disrupting some of the players." Guelker then publicly chastised his son Tim, a midfielder, who the rest of the team felt was not being physical enough in his play. He also realigned several players on defense. The Cougars didn't lose another game and reached the semifinals by avenging their loss to San Francisco.
SIUE's website picks up the story:
Proving that friends working together could win a national championship, SIUE grabbed the NCAA Division I crown behind a plethora of talented players.
Thirteen players would move on to professional careers.
It was the second national title at SIUE for Hall of Fame Coach Bob Guelker. Matt Malloy scored a hat trick as SIUE defeated Clemson 3-2 in the national championship game in Tampa, Fla.
For Guelker, it was special not only to have his son, Tim Guelker, play in the game but also for son to record the assist on all three goals, including the game winner at 86:19.
SIUE (19-2-3) had a difficult road as Bob Guelker required heart bypass surgery just before the season began. Assistant Coach Rick Benben led SIUE before Guelker returned.
After splitting their first four games, the Cougars rallied to go undefeated in their next 20 contests, a school record. One of SIUE's best goal scorers, Don Ebert, recorded a school-record 22 goals and 10 assists.
SIUE also had outstanding goalkeeper with Ed Gettemeier and Mark Downar.
The other member of the 1979 men's soccer team included Bob Bozada, Jeff Cacciatore, Tuaya Chiwanga, Tim Clark, Tom Groark, Joe Howe, Dave Hummert, Dave Hundelt, Pat Malloy, George Mishalow, Morris Mwongo, Steve Schell, Stuart Stevenson, Terry Trushel, and Mike Twellman.
• SIUE Athletics Hall of Fame
On the cover and above: SIU Edwardsville's 1979 NCAA men's soccer champions. (Courtesy SIUE Athletics)
THIS WEEK’S GREATEST MOMENTS
• Monday: Saint Louis and Samford
• Tuesday: Sam Houston State and Seattle
• Wednesday: South Florida and Southeast Missouri State
• Thursday: Southeastern Louisiana and SIU Edwardsville
• Friday: SMU and Southern Mississippi