The 2020 San Jose State soccer season didn’t end as the Spartans hoped it would, but they still ended up in a place they haven’t been in years – the Associated Press season-end rankings.
The final rankings, released Tuesday after Alabama’s defeat to the state of Ohio in the national championship game, put the Spartans in 24th place in the nation.
San Jose State had climbed to 19th place on the previous AP rankings before dropping 34-13 in the Arizona Bowl to Ball State, ending the year 23rd at number 23. The Spartans were missing at least six players from the game – five of them were starters – including Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year Cade Hall and recipient Bailey Gaither. The team’s offensive and defensive coordinators also missed the game.
SJSU later confirmed that positive cases were detected on the team, but a spokesman for the sports department said it was inappropriate to attribute all team absences to coronavirus logs.
Before the bowl game, the Spartans had their most successful season in decades, including their first 7-0 start since 1939 and their very first Mountain West Championship, which they won with a title win against conference juggernaut Boise State.
The Spartans lived on the streets twice between October and December and initially relocated their preseason camp to Humboldt State’s Arcata campus to circumvent Santa Clara County’s coronavirus protocols. The state of San Jose also moved its last two home games to Hawaii and Las Vegas and practiced there after the county reverted to stricter protocols in response to rising case numbers.
The state of San Jose also “hosted” the conference title game in Las Vegas before returning to the Bay Area for Christmas. When the team gathered to test for COVID-19 on Dec. 26 before traveling to Tucson for the bowl, some tests came back positive, forcing some members of the team’s travel group to stay in California. Other members of the group tested positive in Arizona, leaving the Spartans further understaffed for the game.
The last time the Spartans were ranked post-season in an AP poll was in early 2013, when they ranked 21st at 11-2 after the 2012 season.