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2008 Top Assistant Coaches – A Salute To Twelve Of The Best

College Soccer News began annually recognizing assistant coaches across the country who excel at their trade in 2000.  In past seasons as many as twenty assistant coaches were recognized but this year the number has been limited to fourteen.  In 2008, as was the case last year, more weight was placed on team success when making the selections than was the case in prior seasons.  

The 2008 selections include some who have been honored in the past as well as some not previously recognized.  There are many excellent assistant coaches in the collegiate ranks who have a tremendous impact on college soccer programs throughout the United States.  We acknowledge up front that in making our selections we are going to leave off some very deserving assistant coaches.  However, as in the past, we are confident that the fourteen selected are deserving and worthy of recognition.   The background of the coaches selected may vary but they all share the common characteristic of adding value to the program they represent and all have a positive impact on the players they coach.      

Many of the assistant coaches recognized by College Soccer News in past years are now head coaches.  Assistant coaches honored in the past who are now head coaches include Mike Freitag at Indiana, Kevin Grimes at California, Cameron Rast at Santa Clara, Bill Irwin at Portland,  Darren Powell at Elon, Robert McCourt at Monmouth, Jesse Cormier at Vermont,  Mike Jacobs at Evansville, Kelly Findley at Butler, Erik Ronning at  Colgate, Brian Wiese at  Georgetown, Brad Agoos at Seattle University, Bobby Muuss at Denver, Munga Eketebi at FIU, Jamie Clark at Harvard,  Kevin Anderson at Columbia, and Todd Yeagley at Wisconsin.

Carson Porter – Wake Forest – The 2008 campaign was Porter’s fifth season as an assistant coach at Wake Forest under head coach Jay Vidovich.  During the past five years the Deacons have had an impressive 88-20-11 overall record that included trips to the Final Four in 2006, 2007, and 2008.  He has been extremely effective on the recruiting trail helping to bring a lot of talent to Winston Salem.  Vidovich stated, “Carson brings a wealth of knowledge in all areas of the game.”  Porter is involved in the day-to-day operations of the soccer office, on field coaching and he assists with recruiting.  Porter is from Charlotte, North Carolina and played collegiate soccer at the University of North Carolina where he was a four year letterwinner from 1997 through 2000.  

Joe Burger – Drake –  The 2008 season was Burger’s second as an assistant coach at Drake under head coach Sean Holmes.  The Bulldogs were 13-5-1 in 2008, established a school record for wins in a single season, and earned the program’s first ever invitation to the NCAA Tourney.  Homes described Burger as “a dogged recruiter who does a great job of connecting with the players.”  Burger is involved in all aspects of the Drake program including team training and recruiting.  He also has been active in youth soccer and the Kansas Olympic Development Program.  Before coming to Drake, Burger was the head coach at Barton (Kansas) Community College where he started both the men’s and women’s programs in 2001.  Prior to that he was an assistant coach at Missouri State.

Rob Vartughian – Maryland –  The 2008 season was Vartughian’s sixth at Maryland under the direction of head coach Sasho Cirovski.  Cirovski stated, “Rob is an extremely talented all around coach.  His soccer instincts, insight, and knowledge are spot on and his passion for the development of our student athletes is secondary only to his compassion for the development of them as people.”   Vartughian and fellow assistant coach Russell Payne helped the Terps secure the 2008 National Championship while posting a 23-3-0 overall record that set a new school mark for wins as well as a new school record for shutouts with fifteen .  Vartughian works primarily with the goalkeepers, but is also heavily involved in all aspects of the program.  He has also been active in youth soccer. 

Andy Fleming – Northwestern – The 2008 season was Fleming’s second as an associate head coach at Northwestern under head coach Tim Lenahan.  The Wildcats were 15-5-3 overall in 2008 and advanced to the Elite Eight in NCAA Tournament play.  The fifteen wins tied the existing single season win record at Northwestern.  Fleming has a proven record of success as a recruiter, is an effective on the field trainer, and has what Lenahan describes as a “winning mentality.”  Prior to coming to Northwestern, Fleming was an assistant coach at Boston University for nine years during which time the Terriers had eight winning seasons.  Fleming played collegiate soccer at Marist College where he was an assistant coach for one season following his graduation.  He holds a USSF “A” License. 

Sean Phillips –  UIC – Head coach John Trask would be the first to tell you about the positive contribution that Phillips has had on the program at UIC.   Trask states, “I have one of the best assistants in the country.”  Trask adds, “He has been integral in our emergence as a nationally competitive team.”  The 2008 season was Phillips’ fourth as an assistant at UIC under Trask.  The Flames were 12-4-6 overall in 2008 and advanced to the Round of Sixteen in NCAA Tourney play.  In 2007 the Flames advanced to the Elite Eight in NCAA Tourney play for the first time in the history of the program.  Phillips is heavily involved in all facets of the program at UIC but his main focus revolves around coaching the squad’s goalkeepers.  Phillips was an assistant at Indiana for four seasons prior to coming to UIC

Jason Mims – Creighton – Mims has a tradition of success as an assistant coach and as a player.  The 2008 season was Mims’ eighth season as an assistant coach under head Coach Bob Warming.  In 2008 the Bluejays were 16-2-2 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament. Warming stated, “Jason has continued to do what great coaches do, educating himself and spending countless hours improving his knowledge of the game and working with young players outside of the program.”   Mims was an All-Conference USA  selection as a player at St. Louis where he played under Warming from 1997 through 1999.   He is actively involved in youth soccer coaching at the club team level and has been recognized as a top assistant coach by College Soccer News on several previous occasions

Marc Reeves – St. John’s – The Red Storm has earned an invitation to the NCAA Tournament for eight of the nine seasons that Reeves has served as an assistant coach under head coach Dr. Dave Masur.  In 2008, St. John’s was 19-3-3 overall and advanced to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament.  The team’s 19 wins were the second-most in program history.  Masur stated, “Reeves has been involved in every aspect of our program for the past nine seasons.”  He added, “We’re very fortunate to have someone of his knowledge and coaching abilities.”  Reeves, who is an associate head coach, is involved in recruiting, scouting, and team preparation.  He has a USSF A National License and a National Soccer Coaches Association of America Advanced National Diploma. 

Carlos Somoano – North Carolina – Somoano has walked the sidelines in Chapel Hill as the top assistant coach under veteran head coach Elmar Bolowich for seven seasons.  The Tar Heels were 15-8-1 in 2008 with a brilliant season ending run that carried them all the way to the National Championship match.  Somoano has helped attract a long line of talented recruiting classes to North Carolina.  He also is actively involved in youth soccer as a coach with Raleigh’s Capital Area Soccer League and the Olympic Development Program.  Prior to coming to North Carolina, Somoano served as an assistant coach at Virginia Commonwealth University for six seasons.  Somoano played collegiate soccer at Eckerd College were he was a two-year team captain.

Chris Volk – UC Irvine – Volk has served as an assistant coach at UC Irvine under head coach George Kuntz for twelve seasons.  In 2008 he helped the Anteaters achieve a 15-2-6 overall record which was a new school record for wins in a single season.  In addition UC Irvine captured the Big West regular season and tournament titles in 2008 to secure the program’s first ever invite to the NCAA Tournament.   Volk holds a USSF National “A” License as well as a National Youth Diploma.  He played collegiate soccer at San Diego State form 1987 through 1991.  Volk is the kind of assistant coach who not only teaches but he also motivates players to be the very best that they can be which is a trait that will help them throughout life. 

Brian Maisonneuve – Louisville – The 2008 campaign was Maisonneuve’s first season as an assistant coach at Louisville under head coach Ken Lolla.  The Cardinals were 11-8-2 overall in 2008 and earned an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament.  Prior to coming to Louisville, Maisonneuve served as an assistant coach for the U.S. U-20 National Team and before that he served as an assistant coach of the U.S. U-17 National Team for four years.  He clearly knows what it takes to succeed at the highest level of play which adds additional value to his effectiveness on the practice field, in recruiting, and in game situations.  Maisonneuve played collegiate soccer at Indiana University where he was the winner of the 1994 Hermann Trophy his senior season.

Frank Speth – Ohio State –  Speth celebrated his tenth season as an assistant coach at Ohio State under John Bluem.  Bluem stated, “He is a great trainer of players.  In practice sessions he thrives on that and enjoys it.”  Bluem summed it up when he stated, “He is also very motivational with the players and is willing to put in the extra time to make them better players.”  Ohio State was 9-9-3 in 2008 and advanced to the second round in NCAA Tournament play.   The Buckeyes have made six appearances in the NCAA Tournament during the past nine years.  Prior to coming to Ohio State, Speth served as an assistant coach at Fresno State under Bluem.  Speth brings a lot of experience, soccer savvy, and enthusiasm to the pitch which adds to his value on the sidelines.

Ryan Anatol – South  Florida – A lot of good things have been happening at the University of South Florida and Anatol is among the reasons why.  The 2008 season was Anatol’s fourth season in Tampa under head coach George Kifer.  In 2008 the Bulls were 15-5-3.  Along the way they won the program’s first ever Big East Championship and advanced to the Elite Eight of NCAA Tournament play.  Kifer stated, “Ryan is an excellent part of our coaching staff.  He has championship experience both as a player and a coach.”  Kifer added, Ryan understands what if takes for the program to become one of the nation’s elite.”    Anatol’s energetic, positive, yet demanding approach to the game make him a very valuable member of the coaching staff at South Florida. 

Carl Junot – Harvard – The 2008 season was Junot’s first at Harvard under head coach Jamie Clark.  The Crimson were 12-6-0 overall with a solid 5-2-0 mark in Ivy League play.  Harvard earned an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the second round of play.  Clark stated, “We are incredibily fortunate to have Carl Junot join the Crimson program.”  He added, “Carl is one of the country’s top assistants and was a catalyst in transforming New Mexico into a national powerhouse.  We worked together for four years at New Mexico so I know what a great addition Carl will be to Harvard men’s soccer.” Junot played collegiate soccer at Furman where he helped the Paladins secure three Southern Conference Championships in four seasons.


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