Keisuke Yamashita, Wesleyan University
Recruited to attend Wesleyan through the University's Freeman Asian Scholars Program, which seeks to attract outstanding students of Asian culture to the Middletown campus, Keisuke Yamashita was a walk-on for the men's soccer team. He showed up to the team's first practice in sneakers, not cleats. Though his initial command of the English language was a bit limited and his soccer talent was far from superior, he made the team as a freshman and played in five varsity contests for an 11-3-3 NCAA-qualifying squad.
As a sophomore, Yamashita, a forward, found his stride, playing in all 15 games with 14 starts and tied for the team lead in goals with four as the Cardinals went 10-5. He posted his first game-winning goal in a 2-0 victory over Colby. Yamashita continued his goal-scoring prowess into 2008 as he again netted four goals, three of them against Springfield in a 3-1 Wesleyan win. The hat trick came in a span of just 3:30, one of the fastest on record in NCAA Division III history. Wesleyan finished 5-8-2 as Yamashita again played in all 15 contests with eight starts.
His most productive year came as a senior in 2009 as he led the Cardinals in scoring with five goals and five assists for 15 scoring points while playing in all 19 games with 13 starts. Wesleyan enjoyed another trip to the NCAAs after posting a school-record undefeated streak of 15 games (11-0-4) to begin the year and finished with a 12-2-5 mark, earning the top seed in the NESCAC Men's Soccer Championships for the first time ever. Wesleyan advanced to the round of 16 during the 2009 NCAA tournament, its furthest movement in three trips to Nationals.
Yamashita racked up 13 goals and five assists for 31 career points. He was named a CoSIDA/ESPN the Magazine District I second-team academic All-American, was a two-time NESCAC All-Academic honoree and was elected Phi Beta Kappa. He was a co-recipient of Wesleyan's Maynard Award for 2009-10 as the top senior male scholar-athlete at the college.