Now in his third season as Florida Southern’s head men’s soccer coach, Jason Carlson is coming off a year in which he guided the Moccasins to one of their best seasons in team history. The Moccasins fell just one shy of the school record for wins by going 12-5 overall, their 6-4 Sunshine State Conference record was the best they have ever had, and they achieved the highest national ranking in team history too by reaching No. 8 in the United Soccer Coaches Poll. That gives Carlson a two-year record of 19-12 at Florida Southern.
Florida Southern’s 2018 season included six games against top-25 teams, tying a school record, and the Mocs beat two of them on their way to a school-record nine straight wins to start the season. That surpassed the previous best start to a season set by the 1997 Moccasins (8-0-1), and it tied the overall school record for consecutive wins which spanned the 1996-97 seasons. They were one of the last eight undefeated teams in the country in 2018, and one of only four that had neither a loss nor a tie on their record at the end of September.
The Mocs put together another impressive streak by recording four consecutive shutouts to start the season and were one of the final four teams in Division II to allow a goal. Both the shutout and scoreless minute streaks (435:12) were the second longest in team history. They also blew away the former school record for consecutive games allowing no more than one goal with a 16-game streak stretching across Carlson’s first two years on the Florida Southern sideline.
At the end of the 2018 season, the Moccasins had put together a 1.06 goals against average that was the fourth lowest in their 62 year-history, and increased their scoring output by nearly 50 percent. The 39 goals were the most scored by the Mocs since 2004, and they came from 15 different players. Three of Carlson’s players (Foster Appiah, Christoph Gums, and James Meehan) made both the All-SSC and All-South Region teams, the most all-conference selections for the Mocs in 12 years and their most all-region picks in 22 years. Over the course of the season, four Moccasins were selected as the SSC Player-of-the-Week, representing the team’s highest total since 1999.
Carlson originally joined the Moccasins on May 9, 2017, as just the sixth head coach in the program’s long history. He had spent the previous four seasons as head coach at Upper Iowa University after beginning his college coaching career in 2005. Despite his late arrival at Florida Southern, only three months before the opening of fall practice, Carlson made an immediate impact on the program. The Moccasins jumped out of the gate with 4-1 and 3-1 wins over Shorter and North Greenville before Hurricane Irma put the remainder of the season on hold for nearly two weeks. By the end of September, the Moccasins were 4-2, and with conference wins over Saint Leo and Tampa, were ranked seventh in the United Soccer Coaches South Region poll.
By the end of 2017, Carlson had the Mocs back in the Sunshine State Conference Tournament for the first time in four years and at 7-7, had led them to their best record since 2011. Six of those seven losses came by one goal, and four of those came to national top-25 teams, including one to No. 3 Palm Beach Atlantic and two to eventual national runner-up Lynn.
Where the Mocs really stood out in Carlson’s first year was the defensive side of the ledger where they reduced their goals against average by nearly half a goal per game, and at 1.14, had their lowest since 2001 and what is now the fifth lowest in team history. Even while facing some of the best teams in the country, Florida Southern still allowed more than one goal only twice in 14 games, the best such ratio the Moccasins have ever had. That came with a freshman starting in goal and two redshirt freshmen as primary starters on the defensive line.
Many of the 17 newcomers in Carlson’s first year played prominent roles throughout the season, including goalkeeper Benny Yusufoglu, who finished third in the SSC in goals against average and saves, defenders Jake Starling and Foster Appiah, who helped the Mocs to a 30 percent reduction in goals allowed, and forward Christoph Gums, who led the SSC in assists. Gums was later selected Second Team All-SSC as the first Moccasin under Carlson to earn that honor.
Academically, the Moccasins excelled under Carlson too as 17 Moccasins made the Sunshine State Conference Commissioner’s Honor Roll, and only Lynn and Rollins had more 4.00 students on their roster. Florida Southern also had one of the league’s two First Team Academic All-Americans in senior defender Carl Spansk.
Before coming to Florida Southern in May of 2017, Carlson led Upper Iowa University to an overall record of 39-27-5 in his four seasons with the Peacocks, and in 2015, their first conference championship. That also sent Upper Iowa to the NCAA Tournament for the first time where they finished as the Central Region runner-up. With a mark of 13-4-1, the Peacocks set a school record for total wins, another record for conference wins after going 6-2 in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association, and they reached as high as No. 12 in the NSCAA national poll. They ended the year ranked No. 19, and had a program-record nine players make the All-MIAA Team, including five First Team selections. Those accomplishments helped Carlson earn 2015 MIAA and Central Region Coach-of-the-Year honors.
The year before Carlson arrived at Upper Iowa, the Peacocks had gone 5-13 and were 2-8 in the MIAA. He began the program’s quick turn-around by guiding them to an 8-7-2 record in 2013, with the Peacocks setting a school record for goals. They reached the semifinals of the MIAA Tournament and were ranked No. 4 in the region. The following year saw another jump as the Peacocks went 10-7-2, earned a spot in the NSCAA Top-25, and were ranked as high as No. 2 in the region.
Another measure of Carlson’s success at Upper Iowa were the number of all-conference awards his players earned during his four-year tenure. After having two in his first season on the sideline, the Peacocks had eight in year two, nine in year three, and eight more in 2016. They also had seven all-region selections during his time at Upper Iowa.
Prior to Upper Iowa, Carlson spent one season as the head coach of Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa where he led the Crusaders to a 10-7-1 record that was the best in the team’s 29-year history. That gives Carlson a total career college coaching record of 68-46-6 in seven seasons.
In addition to his experience as a head coach, Carlson had stops as an assistant coach at Hope International University in California (2005-06), Trinity International University in Illinois (2006-08), and the University of Dubuque in Iowa (2008-11). He helped the Dubuque men’s team post four 10-win seasons, and had three more with the women’s team.
Carlson also has extensive experience at the club level and with the Olympic Development Program. He was head coach of the Wisconsin ODP ’99 team from 2012-14, and from 2008-11 was a head coach with the Dubuque Soccer Club (boys and girls). His 2009 boys’ team was a State Cup finalist and won the Indoor State Cup. He had previously coached club soccer in California and Illinois as well, and served as a head coach at Apple Valley High School in California (boys) and Dubuque High School in Iowa (girls).
Carlson played collegiately at Victor Valley Community College in California for two years before transferring to Hope International for his final two seasons and was a team captain at both schools. He helped Victor Valley win its first conference championship in 31 years as an honorable mention All-Foothill Conference selection, and went on to earn all-region honors at Hope International where he led the team in scoring as a senior.
Carlson received his Bachelor’s degree in general studies from Trinity International University with a concentration in human performance and wellness, history and religious studies. He later earned his Master’s degree in communication from the University of Dubuque. He also holds both a USSF Coaching License and NSCAA Goalkeeping Diploma.