Q&A: Three-Time Big East men’s soccer champion, Ed Haag

This weekend I spoke with Ed Haag, a former Seton Hall men’s soccer player. Haag played for The Hall from 1985-1988 and won three Big East Championships while he was a student here. The two of us discussed how he became interested in soccer, what the tournament years were like, and how the team dynamic was.

Haley Zemek: How did you get started playing soccer?

Ed Haag: I was eight years old and a childhood friend of mine, who ended up being a great baseball player and wrestler, told me he was joining soccer. I was good at “kickball”, so he thought I should sign up with him.


Zemek: Did you play any other sports growing up, or just soccer?

Haag: I played baseball and basketball through junior high school.


Zemek: Who were some soccer role models you looked up to when you were younger?

Haag: Franz Beckenbauer was my favorite player.


Zemek: Which Major League Soccer team are you a fan of?

Haag: I support the New York Red Bulls. As a matter of fact, I took my daughter, Sarah, to a New York Red Bulls match years ago, and we walked into the Supporters Club and they started chanting her name…which was very cool for a up and coming soccer player.


Zemek: Which international soccer team do you follow the most?

Haag: I support Germany.


Zemek: What was the recruiting process like for Seton Hall?

Haag: I was not being recruited by Seton Hall, I was a walk-on.


Zemek: Were you being recruited by any other schools? Which ones?

Haag: I was being recruited by Loyola of Maryland. It did not work out there


Zemek: What position did you play? Can you explain what that position entails? For people who don’t know that much about soccer.

Haag: I started at Center Midfield. This entails a lot of running and basically being the quarterback for the offense. I later moved to Central Defender, which means you cover or “mark” the other teams most dangerous attacking player.


Zemek: Which Big East team was your biggest competition during your championship days?

Haag: UCONN.


Zemek: What was the Seton Hall team dynamic like? Coaches, players, etc?

Haag: I had two different coaches when I was at SHU. My first three years, I had Ed Kelly – who was a crazy Irishman. My senior year I had Manny Schellscheidt, who coached the Olympic team in the early ‘80s and is in the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame


Zemek: How did Coach Ed Kelly in 1986 and 1987 differ from Coach Manfred Schellscheidt in 1988?

Haag: Manny was a very serious soccer coach who really respected the game and coached according to that mantra. Ed Kelly was a lot more fun. As I mentioned before, he was crazy. He would play scrimmages with us, and we came to understand that the scrimmage or practice would not end until he scored the last goal. He would celebrate like he scored a World Cup goal.


Zemek: What were your thoughts going into the 1986 Big East Championship against Syracuse? How did you feel once you had won?

Haag: We won three Big East Championships while I was at Seton Hall, but that was the first, and it was pretty sweet. The year before we had our first winning season in 20+ years, so winning the Big East Tourney as a sophomore was a pretty big accomplishment.


Zemek: Were you surprised with making it to the 1987 Big East Championship against UCONN? Did you feel like it was too good to be true or was the team truly that talented?

Haag: In 1987, I thought we were a great team. It was sweet to beat the “home” team in their own stadium. Especially when the announcers were announcing our starting lineup, and the UCONN fans were holding up newspapers, as if they couldn’t be bothered.


Zemek: Even though you beat UCONN in the 1987 Big East Tournament, how did it feel to be playing UCONN again in the 1988 final?

Haag: They were our biggest competition back in the day, so I wasn’t too surprised. We were ranked third in the country that year ad I feel like our team had the talent to win the NCAA Tournament in 1988, but injuries derailed us.


Zemek: Did you receive any honors or awards during the regular season or during tournament play?

Haag: I made the All-Tournament team in 1988 and was recognized in Soccer America by Dwayne Robinson as the toughest defender he ever played against. Robinson played for the U.S. National team in the late 80’s and Early 90’s.I was also invited to play in the NJ College All-Star game where I scored a goal, and was voted Defensive Player of the Match.


Zemek: How does it feel to be the only program in Seton Hall school history to complete a conference three-peat?

Haag: That was a special team. We not only had really great players, but the comradery and brotherhood that we had will last a lifetime. There is almost nothing I wouldn’t do to support anyone who I played with during my four years at The Hall.


Zemek: Are the championship trophies on display at the Richie Reagan Athletic Center? If they aren’t, are you disappointed with that decision?

Haag: They are displayed at the Athletic Center, and I think a couple of the team pictures are displayed as part of the electronic displays as well.


Zemek: What is one of your favorite memories playing for Seton Hall?

Haag: It’s tough to say, but overall, it’s what I said already. The comradery and brotherhood that we had will last a lifetime. We not only were teammates, but there was a connection between the players that if I saw any one of them today, it would be like I spoke with them yesterday.