Howard University dismisses head coach

December 18, 2013
(Howard University)
(Howard University)

The 2013 college soccer season was perhaps the most successful ever for the Washington region: nine teams in the NCAA men’s tournament, four top-16 seeds, two College Cup participants, two women’s teams in the national semifinals, Hermann Trophy finalists for men and women.

At Howard University, however, the once-elite men’s program remains in shambles.

And after a 1-17-0 season — the victory came against a team from a small-school independent conference — Michael Lawrence was dismissed as head coach following six losing seasons. News of the move began circulating in the local soccer community this week and Athletic Director Louis Perkins confirmed the decision to the Insider this morning.

Lawrence had replaced Joseph Okoh, who, in early 2008, was caught soliciting a minor online. Okoh was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Howard, a historically black university in Washington, was a national power in the 1970s under Lincoln Phillips, defeating Saint Louis in both the 1971 and ’74 NCAA championships with a brigade of African and Caribbean players. (The ’71 title was later vacated for using two ineligible players.) In 1972, the Bison lost to the Billikens in the semifinals.

With Shaka Hislop manning the net, the program returned to prominence in the late-1980s. The Bison lost to Indiana in the 1988 final and advanced to the quarterfinals the following year, losing again to the Hoosiers. Since then, they have qualified for the NCAA tournament once (1997) in 24 seasons.

During the 1988 tournament, Hislop converted the winning penalty kick during a nine-round tiebreaker with Philadelphia Textile and the Bison came from two goals down to upset Bruce Arena‘s Virginia in the quarterfinals.

The final four in Bloomington, Ind., featured an extraordinary collection of goalkeeping: Hislop, a freshman, joined Portland freshman Kasey Keller and Indiana sophomore Juergen Sommer. All went on to play in the English Premier League and go to the World Cup (Keller and Sommer for the United States, Hislop for Trinidad & Tobago).

This year the Bison conceded 28 goals in the final five matches and were outscored 59-11 overall. In six home matches, the team averaged 64 spectators.

The women’s program, guided by former George Mason player Brent Leiba, is on much stabler ground: 6-7-2 record this year.

 

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.
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Steven Goff · December 18, 2013

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