Piece written by Erin Dunne, UD Athletics Media Relations Student Intern

It is widely known that history has a way of repeating itself. Fashion trends, hairstyles, types of presidents and wars all seem to have a way of reappearing in current time. The University of Delaware men’s soccer team is no exception to this rule – the Blue Hens have revealed themselves to come out kicking as strong as the extremely successful team of the 1970 season.

The current team began the 2014 campaign with record-matching results, besting every opponent during the first six games of the season. This remarkable feat had not been accomplished since the soccer team of 1970, which held Delaware’s record for most consecutive wins to start a season at 6-0 prior to being joined by this year’s squad. These teams not only now share the current title for this record; they share two alumni players who have given their support to UD men’s soccer since their time on the historic 1970 team (above right; right-click image to make larger).

Noteworthy in their time at Delaware, William (Bill) Dodds and Michael Biggs played on the 1970 team that set standards for years to come in Blue Hens soccer. Their historical team records include, but are not limited to most consecutive wins, most consecutive games unbeaten, and least goals allowed in a season, while they played a part in the longest league unbeaten streak which lasted from 1969-1971. The team advanced to the NCAA Regional Quarterfinals, served as Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) West Champions, and fell short only to West Chester in the MAC West Tournament.

Biggs, a former standout player for the Hens, reminisced on his experience, remarking how thrilled the team was to be able to compete in the NCAA tournament, since they were one of only two Delaware teams to advance that far. The all-time leader at Delaware in career goals and points, Biggs accrued 99 points and tallied 47 goals as a Blue Hen from 1968-70.

When asked about the 1970 squad, current head coach Ian Hennessy, now in his ninth season with the Blue Hens, remarks, “Every team needs an institutional example, a gold standard, and this 1970 team is that standard.”

Not only was the team extremely strong that year, its strength of loyalty to Delaware soccer has remained in following the current UD team.  

An offensive midfielder in his time, Dodds (at left) expresses his fondness for his former team, saying, “It was a great year for Delaware soccer; we worked well together and had a strong team of guys.”

Indeed they did, as demonstrated by a successful season that saw Biggs, a 2009 Delaware Athletics Hall of Fame inductee, earn MAC West Player of the Year honors.

Individually, Biggs set the record for most goals in a season with 17 in 1968 and recorded 16 goals during the 1970 season. Those two seasons were the most prolific scoring seasons in Delaware history at the time. Biggs’ 17-goal season total has since been matched by Scott Thompson in 1979. At the time of Biggs’ departure from Delaware he had registered the top three points seasons in UD history. He set the record in 1968 and 1970 with 34 points.

“The chemistry of that team was what made us play as well as we did,” Biggs expressed. “Everyone knew what their job was. It was a great group of guys, that’s really what makes true success in the end.” 

These proud alumni set a standard for the Delaware teams to come, providing an example of teamwork and excellent results.

In a statement that nearly mirrors remarks by these two soccer players who came before him, current senior midfielder Kyle Nuel (Hamilton, N.J./Hamilton) claims, “We have a great group of guys this year and the team is up to par for the first time in awhile.”

Biggs (at right), certainly a standout center forward in his three-year varsity tenure at Delaware, continued on to play soccer with the Philadelphia Inter and Delaware Wings of the American Soccer League. Also a photographer, he would attend and photograph Delaware soccer games when in the area.

Both Biggs and Dodds have kept alumni relations strong with the Delaware soccer program, displaying a loyalty that remains. Both former players attend several games a year, location permitting, have attended alumni reunions in the past, and stay involved in soccer overall.  

Nuel recalled Biggs attending a tournament in California his freshman year and learned a bit about the player and his legendary success.

“A lot of historical team records are talked about, because our team is really up to par this year; it would be great to win the conference again,” remarked Nuel.

Both Biggs and Dodds have noted the game of soccer has changed in the quality of play, smoothness of movements in the game, and popularity of the sport. Though these changes are apparent in comparing the past team with the current squad, Biggs sums up the timeless love a soccer player will have for the game.

“As alumni, it is nice to see a strong team. It makes us proud,” Biggs commented. 

Dodds added, “Soccer is a beautiful game and Coach Hennessy has established this as a standard for all Delaware soccer players to come.”  

Not only is the 1970 team an example for skill, Hennessy describes them as “A classic group of gentlemen, bound by their experiences” and hopes that this trait will carry over in his current players after they leave Delaware.

The strength of soccer and the lasting impressions it makes on its players is a fact that will forever repeat itself, as seen in the sentiments expressed by alumni of Delaware soccer.

Hennessy states, “While it is always important to value and respect your seniors, it is not wrong to want to trump their accomplishments in a friendly way,” especially if it creates UD history.

Hennessy claims that he sees the same comradery and values reflected in the current team that has not been seen since the likes of the 1970 team. He believes that this leading senior class rivals the most historic alumni of Delaware soccer and would “put them on par with the Dodds and Biggs of the world,” not only in skill of the game, but sportsmanship and comradery.

As the head coach states, “We wear the same uniform because we have played the way they play, we have won the way they have won, and we are their younger versions.” 

Nuel (above left) added, “It would be great to go out the way we came in,” which would mean continuing to follow in the legendary footsteps of their past alumni to recreate another historical season for Delaware soccer.