The 1952 men?s soccer team under head coach Bob Smith made Franklin & Marshall College history by claiming the first national championship in the history of athletics at the College (women?s cross country won the 1985 NCAA Division III title). In 1952, all 312 colleges and universities that completed in intercollegiate soccer were considered part of one division, and there were no national playoffs to determine a national champion; therefore, the coaches had, in essence, named Franklin & Marshall national champions.
To win this extraordinary honor, F&M was rated ahead of such outstanding conference champions and regional powerhouses as Dartmouth, Army, Brooklyn College, Duke, the University of Baltimore, Oberlin, Earlham, and the University of San Francisco. The coaches were undoubtedly impressed by the fact that F&M had shut out six of its nine opponents, and had outscored its foes by 33-4. Historically, the squad is the only F&M soccer team that never lost a game as they finished 9-0 on the year. Smith?s 1962 team was undefeated in the regular season play (10-0), but lost in the MAC Playoffs for the only other squad in program history to approach the 1952 team?s record of perfection. In the MAC inter-division title playoff game, F&M blanked Swarthmore 2-0 for the first ever MAC soccer title in program history.
Previously, the team had won the 1950 and 1951 Southwest crown, but bowed in the playoffs versus the Northeastern finalist. Overall, the Diplomats rolled through the season downing Lafayette (4-0), Drexel (4-0), Muhlenberg (1-0), McDaniel (7-2), Gettysburg (4-1). Delaware (3-1), Bucknell (2-0), Ursinus (6-0) and Swarthmore (2-0). Following the season, sophomore Carl Yoder was named a First Team All-American, and Walt Lenz notched Honorable Mention All-America honors at goalie to become the first two F&M soccer player awarded All-American honors.