Wake Forest’s Harkes recognized as nation’s top college soccer player – Winston

Ian Harkes, one of the best soccer players in Wake Forest history, added to his legacy by winning the Hermann Trophy on Friday night.

The announcement was made in St. Louis by the Missouri Athletic Club.

The Hermann Trophy, college soccer’s version of the Heisman Trophy, is awarded yearly to the best soccer player in the country.

Harkes, a senior midfielder who helped the Deacons to the NCAA championship game, is the second Wake Forest player to win the award. Marcus Tracy, who was a part of the 2007 national championship team, won the award in 2008.

Harkes’ father, John, a former star at Virginia, won the award in 1987. They are the first father-son winners.

“This is a huge honor,” Harkes said in a short speech afterward receiving the award. “It’s very humbling to be in the same category, and I see how many goals they scored and I had a career-high five goals. It puts you really in check.”

Harkes beat out Albert Ruiz of Florida Gulf Coast and Gordon Wild of Maryland, who were the other finalists. Ruiz and Wild were the top two goal scorers in the country this season.

What made Harkes so valuable was his style of play at the midfield fit right in with coach Bobby Muuss’ attack the last two seasons. And before Muuss arrived, Harkes was just as effective in a slightly different style playing two years for coach Jay Vidovich.

As he has been throughout his career at Wake Forest, Harkes was the consummate team player and made sure to thank his teammates.

“I want to thank my parents for giving me the inspiration to play this game and my grandfather who came to all my games and my sisters who really supported me,” Harkes said in the speech that was broadcast online. “And any success I’ve had is because of my teammates, so I want to thank them as well.”

Jacori Hayes, another of the senior leaders for the Deacons, said Harkes was more than just a team captain.

“Ian has been a great player and a great friend to me and all the guys on the team these past four years,” Hayes said. “It’s funny, we started as rivals in high school to now friends and teammates at Wake Forest. I want to say congratulations on this huge achievement and wish him the best in his professional career.”

The Deacons went 19-3-3 this past season, winning the Atlantic Division of the ACC and the ACC tournament, the first time that’s been done by the Deacons since 1989.

The Deacons didn’t miss a beat in the NCAA tournament, advancing to the College Cup for the first time since 2009.

The Deacons lost 5-4 on penalty kicks in the championship game to Stanford. In the semifinal of the College Cup, Harkes scored the game-winner, taking a beautiful pass from Jon Bakero to deliver the decider a 2-1 win over Denver.

Muuss, who flew to St. Louis to be with Harkes when the announcement was made, talked earlier in the season about how valuable Harkes is to the Deacons.

“Ian makes us go,” Muuss said. “With his professionalism and the way he trains and the way he coaches on the field to make the guys around him better each day, he has been a treat to watch.”

It was a bit of a surprise when Harkes decided not to go to Virginia to follow in the footsteps of his father. Muuss said Harkes not only embraced his time at Wake Forest, he carved out a legendary career.

“Ian has paved his own way, and Ian’s dad would tell you that, as well,” Muuss said earlier this season. “Ian came to Wake Forest and could have gone to Virginia, but over four years, he’s continued to get better. And nobody could control that other than Ian, so he’s done a great job of that.”

Harkes, the ACC tournament MVP and the ACC midfielder of the year, scored five goals, four of them game-winners, and he added four assists, but his decision making in the midfield is something Muuss said set him apart from other players in the country.

Harkes, who was born in Derby, England, was All-ACC on the first or second team all four seasons at Wake Forest and was a constant on the All-ACC Academic Team.

Harkes had an outstanding career at Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C., before he came to Wake Forest before the 2013 season as one of the top recruits brought in by Vidovich. During his four seasons, the Deacons combined to go 56-19-12 as he scored nine career goals with 18 assists.