There have been few Ivy League teams in history as dominant as the Columbia men’s soccer program of the late 1970s and early 1980’s. From 1979 to 1985, the Lions won the Ivy League title seven straight times, and advanced to the NCAA Final Four twice.
The leader of that dynasty was head coach Dieter Ficken.
In 27 years at Columbia, Coach Ficken molded the Columbia men’s soccer program into a model college team. Taking advantage of Columbia’s position in New York City, Ficken recruited some of the best American and international collegiate players to come suit up for the Lions.
On the pitch, Ficken directed Columbia to 252 victories in 443 games, both all-time school records. In his first seven seasons at the helm, his teams posted a winning percentage of .888 in Ivy League contests, including three undefeated conference seasons.
Over the course of his career, Ficken coached 10 Ivy League Players of the Year and 10 All-Americans. He was recognized as Regional Coach of the Year in 1979 when Columbia made the Final Four and National Coach of the Year in 1983, when the Lions came within inches of a National Championship.
Prior to coming to Columbia, Ficken was the head coach at his alma mater, Long Island University, Brooklyn for four seasons and led the Blackbirds to an impressive 32-9-7 record and three postseason berths.
As a player, Ficken was a member of the LIU team for four seasons and was a member of the program’s first postseason appearances in 1963 and 1965. He went on to play professionally for Entracht S.C. of the German American Soccer League from 1970-74. Ficken also made a brief appearance with the United States national team, earning a cap in a 2-1 World Cup qualification loss to Mexico in 1972.