We’re about to crown a new ruler of the land of college golazos.
But to know where we’re going, you have to know where we’ve been. Last year, Buffalo’s Russell Cicerone took the year’s honor with this half-field blast to win a game in 2OT. He’s had his crown for a year, and now it’s time to fork it over to a new ruler.
The vetting process this year was painful. We had so many worthy candidates, but only five could make the final field for public voting. Our selection panel slaved over numbers, poured over goal angles, meticulously charted the value of a bobbling bike over a swashbuckling 30-yard blast. And here we are. The final field.
Let’s not waste any time dithering. The goals await.
Derrick Etienne, Virginia (Sept. 21 vs. VCU)
Etienne arrived in college soccer towing a significant amount of fanfare from the New York Red Bulls academy, and it only took him a couple weeks to make his first big splash onto the scene. About three weeks into the defending champion Cavaliers’ season, Etienne ripped off this eye-popping run from midfield, beating nearly the entire VCU back half before chipping the keeper like Messi. Did I mention this was the game-winner and the match’s only goal? The best solo run in college soccer this year, right here.
Aaron Jones, Clemson (Nov. 29 vs. UCSB)
There was not a better goal in the entire NCAA tournament this year than the one Clemson’s Aaron Jones smashed into the upper reaches of the goal in the Sweet 16 against UCSB this year (it’s the first goal in the highlight reel here). The Tigers trailed the Gauchos with halftime looming, and the Clemson right back made a stabbing run forward, cut between two markers, passed off and got it back before splitting two more markers, and finished with his left (!) on the trot. Unreal. Clemson ultimately won the game and kicked on to the NCAA title game.
Catherine Zimmerman, Providence (Nov. 7 vs. Georgetown)
— BIG EAST Champs (@BIGEASTchamps) November 7, 2015
The Providence women advanced to the Big East championship game for the first time since 1993 this season, and they had this unbelievable thunderplonker from their best player at least partially to thank. This madness from Zimmerman put the Friars up on Georgetown in the semifinal (look at the arc!), a game they ended up winning in PKs. Not only did Zimmerman smash this in from almost 40 yards, but she also created the turnover that led to her own goal. Does not get much better than this in any respect.
Zach Knudson, NC State (Oct. 4 vs. Notre Dame)
Everyone loves and appreciates the time-honored art of the bike, but the truth is most of them are pale shadows of the true form. The vast majority take hops before they cross the line, or are off deflections or just tend to lack bite. The true bike is a one-time blast, and there was not a better offering than this peach from Knudson. This came straight off a cross, and Knudson leaves no doubt by snapping the bottom half of his leg like a whip and hitting this so hard it left a tracer. NC State tied the game, but Knudson won himself a bike.
Travis Nicklaw, San Diego State (Oct. 23 vs. California)
— thom van den berg (@thomvdberg) October 24, 2015
San Diego State was staring down a loss to Cal when Nicklaw popped up in the attacking third and unleashed hell. I had to watch this blast a half dozen times to get a bead on exactly what it’s doing as it breaks the sound barrier on its path toward goal. Nicklaw actually bends this away from the center of the goal with his right foot, bamboozling the keeper as it swerves into the upper right corner from an impossible distance. This goal tied the game and sent it into overtime, and you won’t see many better in your lifetime.
Now, it’s come to this. Time to vote. Voting will be open for nearly a full week, and we’ll close it down on Tuesday, Dec. 22 at noon (PT). You have until that time to make your voice heard and pick the greatest golazo from the 2015 college season.
UPDATE: It’s all over. We have a goal of the year.
Big ups to SDSU’s Travis Nicklaw, who nabbed the GOTY title for himself and will run into 2016 as our reigning champion. Thanks everyone for joining us for the great goalfest of 2015. We’ll see you next year.