NEW YORK – Over the next few weeks, GoColumbiaLions.com will take a look at the teams, student-athletes, coaches and staff members set to be inducted in the Columbia University Athletics Hall of Fame this October. We begin the Hall of Fame Series with a look at two of the most accomplished men’s soccer players in program history, Len Renery ’71CC and Amr Aly ’85CC.
Len Renery ’71CC
Renery will standout in Columbia soccer lure as not only the first ever All-American in program history, but the first two-time selection. As a junior, Renery captured third team honors and capped his senior year with a selection to the All-America first team. He earned first team All-Ivy League accolades each of those seasons and added an all-region selection in 1970.
Originally from London, Renery moved to Neptune, New Jersey at 12 years old and joined the Lions squad following a prep year at the Suffield Academy in Connecticut. As a first-year during the 1967 season, Renery helped the freshmen go undefeated, bolstered by wins over Yale and Penn. The victory over the Bulldogs was the first ever for the freshmen squad. Against the Quakers, the Lions trailed 3-2 late in the match, but a goal from Renery tied the score with one minute remaining, and teammate Omar Chamma sealed the win with another Columbia goal in the waning seconds.
Transitioning to the varsity squad in 1968, Renery proved to be a critical piece to the Lions success on the back line. Serving as the front back, head coach Joe Molder counted on Renery to uses his exceptional long distance passing skills and throw-in strength to create scoring opportunities for his front line teammates.
The 1969 season saw Renery blossom into the offensive threat that both his head coach and the local media predicted during his rookie and sophomore seasons in Morningside Heights. He finished second on the team with 10 points, putting four goals in the back of the net, while leading the team with six assists. Two of those goals and assists came against Ivy League foes during a season that saw Columbia go 8-3-1 overall and 3-3-1 in conference.
Serving as the co-captain in 1970, Renery’s Columbia career culminated with the team’s first ever trip to the NCAA Tournament that included a win over Buffalo State. A continued force in the middle of the field, Renery was often acknowledged as the key to the Lions’ increased success on both sides of the field. His powerful shot and aggressive passing helped him finish second on the team in scoring for the second straight year and earned him the spot on the All-America first team, while the team rose to as high as No. 16 in the nation.
Upon graduation, Renery went on to play professionally for the next 10 years before turning to coach at the high school and collegiate level.
Amr Aly ’85CC
The 1984 Hermann Award winner as the nation’s best collegiate soccer player, Aly was among a core group of players made Columbia soccer a dominant force from the late 1970’s through the mid-1980’s.
Aly, a Brooklyn, New York, native via Cairo, Egypt, began his Columbia career in 1980 as a goal-scoring machine, planting 10 in the back of the net, just one shy of the team lead. He also contributed three assists to finish tied for second with 13 points. Columbia posted a 12-2-2 overall mark during that season with a 4-1-2 showing against the Ivy League to earn a split of its third straight conference title. It would be the first of four Ivy League Championship teams in which Aly would play on.
He took the 1981 season off from Columbia after competing with the U.S. National Youth Team in international competition in Switzerland, Italy, Australia and China, as well as at the Pan-American Games in 1982.
With a year of international competition under his belt, Aly returned to Columbia in 1982 and continued to showcase his refined offensive skills. He once again finished second on the team in scoring with four goals and five helpers, setting the Lions up for their fifth straight Ivy League title. In addition to earning a spot on the All-Ivy League first team, he was named second team all-region.
The 1983 season remains the gold standard for Columbia soccer, as the Lions reached the NCAA Tournament title contest, finishing runner-up to Indiana in a 1-0 decision. Along the way, Columbia posted an 18-0 record to reach the matchup with the Hoosiers. Aly again reached double digit scoring, with three goals and four assists, contributing to an offense that outscored opponents, 52-6. For his overall contributions, Aly earned a spot on the All-America third team, all-region team and the All-Ivy League first team.
Aly concluded his career on the pitch in a Lions uniform in the most impressive of fashions, capturing the Hermann Award as the nation’s top player and a second team All-America nod and his third straight first-team All-Ivy League selection. Columbia won its seventh straight Ivy League Championship, receiving two goals and five assists from Aly.
In addition to his collegiate experience, Aly continued to train with the U.S. National Team at various levels, including the 1984 Olympic squad. He went on to compete professionally for six years.