College Soccer Coaching Carousal - A Look at the 2020 Coaching Changes

West Virginia, Boston College, George Mason, San Diego State, Boston University, College of Charleston, Harvard, UMKC and Incarnate Word will be under new management in 2020. FIU, Purdue Fort Wayne and Eastern Illinios have not yet announced their new coach.  


West Virginia - The Mountaineers stayed within the West Virginia family with the hire of Dan Stafford as their new head coach. Stafford, who hails from London, England, played collegiate soccer for the Mountaineers from 2004 through 2007 and served as a team captain his senior season.  West Virginia appeared in the NCAA Tournament three times during Stafford's tenure as a collegiate player. He has both an undergraduate degree and a masters degree from West Virginia and served as an assistant coach at West Virginia from 2011 through 2013.

Stafford returns to Morgantown after serving as an assistant coach at the University of Charleston from 2014 through 2016 and as the Golden Eagle head coach from 2017 through 2019. He led the Golden Eagles to a 61-4-5 record as the head coach, won the Division II National Title in 2017 and 2019, and the coaching staff was named the United Soccer Coaches Division II Coaching Staff of the Year in 2017 and 2019. 

Stafford is a player centered coach who views player development, the ability of his players to make good decisions, an environment of trust, the growth of the student athlete, and recruiting players that will be the right fit for the desired culture of the of the program as important ingredients.  It is an additional plus that Stafford was a teammate of West Virginia assistant coaches Andy Wright and Nick Noble who were All-Americans during their playing days at West Virginia and are very knowledgeable and  experienced coaches.

Stafford takes over the reins of the program from Marlon LeBlanc who resigned at the conclusion of the 2019 season. LeBlanc served as the West Virginia head coach for fourteen years during which time the Mountaineers were 138-100-34 and earned six berths in the NCAA Tournament including the 2019 season in which they were 10-9-2, won the Mid-American Conference Tournament, and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.  


Boston College - When Ed Kelly announced he was retiring after thirty-two seasons as the head coach at Boston College, he indicated that he hoped that "another Eagle who understands what a special place he Heights is" would assume his role and lead the program to continued success. Boston College Athletic Director Martin Jarmond accomplished that when he announced that Bob Thompson, who came to Chestnut Hill twenty years ago as a student athlete, would follow Kelly as the Boston College head coach.  

During Kelly's thirty-two year tenure, Boston College was 289-239-67, earned a total of thirteen NCAA Tournament berths, advanced to the Elite Eight in 2002 and 2015, had a total of fourteen double digit seasons, and won conference titles in both the Big East and Atlantic Coast Conferences. 

Thompson played as a midfielder for Boston College from 1999 through 2002 during which time the Eagles won two Big East championships and made three appearances in the NCAA Tournament.  He was a key element on the 2002 squad that still holds the school single season win record with eighteen victories. Thompson then played three season of professional soccer including two for the New England Revolution. 

Thompson began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Northeastern University in 2007. He then served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Tufts University for two years before returning to Boston College as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator in 2012 and 2013.

Thompson then accepted a position as an assistant coach and later became the associate head coach at UMass Lowell from 2014 through 2017. In 2016 Thompson was recognized by College Soccer News as one of the top twelve assistant coaches in the country.  He returned to his alma mater and served as the associate head coach under Ed Kelly in 2018 and 2019.

Thompson should hit the ground running with plenty of talent to work with. He will inherit a young team that was 9-6-3 overall last year and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Boston College had a lot of freshmen, including three members of the All-ACC Freshman Team, in the starting lineup in 2019.  


George Mason - The Patriots made the most high profile and perhaps most unexpected hire when they announced that highly regarded and respected veteran coach Elmar Bolowich would be their new head coach.  Bolowich comes to George Mason with a proven track record of success at the collegiate level at both North Carolina and Creighton.  

Bolowich returns to college soccer after serving as the Boy's DA Technical Director for the Armada Youth Academy in Jacksonville, Florida in 2019.  He was the head coach at the University of North Carolina for twenty-two years during which time the Tar Heels were 280-144-40. Bolowich led North Carolina to fifteen NCAA Tournament appearances, four trips to the College Cup (Final Four) and won the program's first national championship in 2001. He left Chapel Hill to accept the head coaching job at Creighton at the conclusion of the 2010 season.  Bolowich was the head coach at Creighton for eight years (2011 through 2018) leading the Bluejays to a 115-40-17 overall record, six berths in the NCAA Tournament, and two trips to the College Cup.

Bolowich takes over the leadership role at George Mason from Greg Andrulis who resigned as the Patriots head coach after fifteen seasons at the helm of the program with a 124-114-39 overall record, two conference championships, and three appearances in the NCAA Tournament with the most recent  in 2014. 

George Mason has had success at times but Bolowich who has never shied away from a challenge has some rebuilding and catching up to do since he takes over a program that was 4-12-1 last year with a 3-5-0 mark and seventh place finish in the Atlantic 10.

Bolowich stated, "We want soccer at George Mason to rise to a nationally competitive level and we want to create a soccer culture on campus." He added, "I look forward to this challenge and I'm ready to get going."  


San Diego State - Ryan Hopkins was named the fourth head coach in San Diego State history taking over the reins of the program from veteran Lev Kirshner who had served as the Aztec head coach for twenty seasons during which time his teams were 142-179-57 and earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament in 2005, 2006 and 2016.  

Hopkins comes to San Diego State after spending two highly successful seasons as an assistant coach under George Gelnovatch at the University of Virginia. Before that he served as an assistant coach at Denver for five years under Bobby Muuss and then Jamie Franks during which time the Pioneers won four Summit League regular season and tournament titles and secured a berth in the NCAA Tournament four times. His resume also includes serving as an assistant coach at Wisconsin in 2012, as an assistant coach at Cal Poly from 2009 through 2011, and at his alma mater Concordia from 2009 through 2011.

Hopkins played collegiate soccer at Concordia where he was a four-year starter in goal from 2000 through 2004 and a two-time All-America selection.

College Soccer News recognized Hopkins as one of the Top Twelve Assistant Coaches in the country in three out of the last four seasons. It is a plus that he has been associated with successful programs and knows firsthand what it takes to succeed at the highest level. He has been given high marks by Gelnovatch, Franks, and Muuss for his passion for the game, work ethic, and commitment to developing student athletes. 

Hopkins stated, "It is a dream to come home to California and lead a Pac-12 soccer program.  San Diego State provides a great platform for our student-athletes to excel in the classroom, on the field and in the community.  I look forward to helping them find the best versions of themselves everyday as we continue to push the program to new heights."

Hopkins will have his work cut out for him as he faces the very real and daunting challenge of moving the Aztecs upward in the hierarchy of the highly competitive Pac-12 Conference where the margin for error is very slim. Last year San Diego State was 4-12-2 overall with a 1-9-0 mark in conference play.


Boston University - It is tough to follow someone like Neil Roberts who has been the face of Boston University soccer for a long time but that is the task new head coach Kevin Nylen faces.

Roberts retired at the conclusion of the 2019 season after serving as the Terrier head coach and an ambassador for college soccer for the past thirty-five years.  During that thirty-five year span Boston University was 367-218-93, secured nineteen conference and regular season tournament titles, and earned fifteen invites to the NCAA Tournament. 

Nylen who is from Ipswich, Massachusetts looks to be a good fit for Boston University. He comes to BU  after serving as the head coach at FIU for three seasons during which time the Panthers were 29-15-9. In 2017 Nylen was named the CUSA Coach of the Year after FIU was 12-2-4, won the program's first ever regular season conference title, and was awarded a berth in the NCAA Tournament.   

Nylen played collegiate soccer as a defender for St. Anselm College from 1999 through 2002 and was the team captain his senior season.  He then had a six-year professional career playing with the Wilmington Hammerheads for three seasons and the Charleston Battery for three years. 

Nylen began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Amherst College in 2009 followed by two seasons as an assistant coach at Boston College in 2010 and 2011. He then served as an assistant coach and the recruiting coordinator at FIU from 2012 through 2015. Nylen left FIU to serve as the chief scout for the Orlando City SC Development Academy in 2016 before accepting the head coaching job in 2017.  

Nylen inherits a Boston University team that was 4-12-1 with a 3-6-0 mark in Patriot League play in 2019. The Terriers didn't qualify for the six team Patriot League tournament last year for the first time in six years.


Harvard - Josh Shapiro assumes the head coaching job at Harvard after ten very successful seasons as the head coach at Division III Tufts where his teams were 126-37-28, appeared in the NCAA Tournament seven times, and were national champions in 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2019. Shapiro took over a program at Tufts in 2010 that had won only two games the previous two seasons and led them to an NCAA Tournament berth in 2012.

Shapiro was a four-year letterman at Middlebury College and was a team captain as a senior in 1997. He was an assistant coach at Lafayette in 2003, George Mason in 2004 and American University in 2005 before serving as an assistant coach at Georgetown from 2006 through 2009. 

Shapiro has a successful track record of putting in place a winning culture. His focus at Tufts included  the creation of a team oriented culture, a solid work ethic, a culture of continual improvement, and a focus on team oriented goals. His teams at Tufts attacked but they were also very effective on the defensive side of the ball.

Shapiro takes over the reins of the program from Peter Lehrer who had a 42-58-13 record during seven seasons as the Crimson head coach. 

Shapiro faces the challenge of bringing about improvement on both sides of the ball as he inherits a program at Harvard that last year scored eight goals while allowing forty-seven in route to a 0-14-1 overall record.  


College of Charleston - The Chris Wiggins era will begin in 2020 at the College of Charleston. Wiggins assumed the leadership of the program after Ralph Lundy who has been synonymous with College of Charleston soccer for a long time retired at the conclusion of the 2019 seasons after thirty-three seasons at the helm of the program.  During Lundy's tenure the Cougars were 323-277-53, earned five conference championships, and made five appearances in the NCAA Tournament field.

Wiggins played college soccer for the College of Charleston from 2000 through 2004 where he was a three-year starter in goal and a two-time All-Southern Conference and All-South Region selection. He holds the program record for career goals against average, wins, shutouts, and saves. He then played seven years for the Charleston Battery of the United Soccer League. 

Wiggins began his coaching career as an assistant coach at West Virginia for two seasons. He then returned to the College of Charleston where he served as an assistant coach under Lundy for nine seasons and as the Associate Head Coach in 2018 and 2019.

Wiggins will seek to put his stamp on the program in 2020 as he takes over a team that was 2-12-2 overall with a 1-6-1 record in Southern Conference play last year. 


University of Missouri-Kansas City - Ryan Pore was named the new head coach at UMKC after serving as an assistant coach at the University of Tulsa from 2013 through 2016 and as the Associate Head Coach from 2017 through 2019 under head coach Tom McIntosh.   

Pore had a banner career as a collegiate player at Tulsa from 2002 through 2004 where he was a two-time Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year and All-American. Pore was the top goal scorer in the country as a senior in 2004. He then played professional soccer for seven years including four seasons with Sporting Kansas City.

Pore takes over the leadership of the program from veteran Rick Benben who retired at the conclusion of the 2019 season after twenty-two years at the helm of the program during which time the Roos were 148-212-42, won seven conference championships, and earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament in 2001, 2003, and 2008.

Pore takes over a team that was 6-11-0 last year and that will begin play in the Summit League in 2020.


University of Incarnate Word - Kika Lara returns to his alma mater Incarnate Word as the head coach after serving as the head coach at Eastern Illinois University for five years during which time his teams were 20-53-13.  Prior to that he was an assistant coach at the University of Dayton from 2009 through 2014 and was named the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Assistant Coach of the Year in 2013 for the Mid-Atlantic Region.

Lara played at Incarnate Word from 2001-2003 during which time the team earned berths in the NCAA Division II NCAA Tournament in 2002 and 2003 and had a cumulative record of 58-15-6. He then played professional soccer from 2004 through 2008.

Lara comes to UIW with high marks from former coaches and will seek to leverage the experience he has gained as a player and as a coach at Dayton and Eastern Illinois to make a positive impact on the program at UIW.

Lara replaces Chris Fidler who served as the programs interim head coach in 2018 and 2019 and as an assistant coach for five seasons prior to that. Incarnate Word was 5-12-0 with a 2-9-0 record in WAC play in 2019.