50 Years of Kicks

University of Evansville celebrates victories on the pitch

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1985 Final Four Team

What makes the University of Evansville men’s soccer special, Marshall Ray says, is “how connected the alumni stay.”

UE expects between 50 and 100 former Aces on campus in September for the soccer program’s 50th anniversary. For Ray, it is a chance to see ex-teammates and players he coached.

Recruited by former coach Fred Schmalz in 1995, he played four years for the Aces, then returned as an assistant coach (2006-14) and head coach (2014-23). Ray now works for Shepherd Insurance.

Fred Schmalz

He describes former coaches Bill Vieth, Bob Gaudin, and Schmalz as “the three pillars” of Aces men’s soccer. “The connection they had with their players is what holds the program together,” Ray says.

Vieth founded the program. UE formed a club team in 1973, playing a few games. Vieth and others approached then-UE Athletic Director Arad McCutchan about fielding a varsity squad the following season. That first varsity team compiled a 3-8 record.

The Aces had great success later, making nine straight NCAA Division I tournaments starting in 1984, and advancing to the Final Four in 1985 and 1990.

Vieth, who coached the program’s first three years, says skillful recruiting by Gaudin and Schmalz pushed the Aces forward. Both coaches utilized local talent and also recruited their native regions – Gaudin in New York and Schmalz in St. Louis, Missouri.

Members of UE’s best soccer squads will attend the 50th anniversary celebration during Labor Day weekend, with a focal point being UE’s Sept. 1 Mayor’s Cup game matchup versus the University of Southern Indiana.“We hope to have a big event,” Vieth says.

 

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Maggie Valenti joined Tucker Publishing Group in September 2022 as a staff writer. She graduated from Gettysburg College in 2020 with a bachelors degree in English. A Connecticut native, Maggie has ridden horses for 15 years and has hunt seat competition experience on the East Coast.