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Top Assistant Coaches 2016

May 16, 2017 – The 2016 college soccer season is now history and the focus has shifted to the upcoming 2017 campaign. However, College Soccer News annually seeks to recognize assistant coaches across the country who are excelling at their work. Our selections for 2016 include familiar faces and a few new ones. In making these selections we acknowledge up-front that some very deserving assistant coaches will be left out as is always the case when individuals are singled out for recognition.

The current selections continue our trend over the past several seasons of placing additional weight on team success on the field of play in 2016 in the selection criteria.

There are many very good assistant coaches in the collegiate ranks across the nation who have a very positive impact on college soccer. The very best are effective teachers, communicators, motivators, and recruiters. The most effective ones relate well to the players they coach while maintaining their respect.

Successful head coaches are first to emphasize the valuable role that their assistants play in the level of success a program achieves. The very best assistance coaches are soccer and people savvy mentors who understand their role and are totally aligned with the direction of the head coach. 

Assistant coaches recognized in past years by College Soccer News who are now head coaches include Kevin Grimes at California, Cameron Rast at Santa Clara, Bill Irwin formerly at Portland, Robert McCourt at Monmouth, Bobby Muus at Denver and Wake Forest, Mike Jacobs formerly at Evansville, Todd Yeagley at Indiana, Jesse Comier at Vermont and FGCU, Kelly Findley formerly at North Carolina State, Erik Ronning at Colgate, Brian Wiese at Georgetown, Darren Powell formerly at Elon, Damon Rensing at Michigan State, Jamie Clark at Washington, Kevin Anderson at Columbia, Sean Phillips at UIC, Eric Pogue at Oakland, Ralph Polson at Wofford, Scott Calabrese at FIU and UCF, Brad Ruzzo at Mercer, Andy Fleming at Xavier, Carlos Somoano at North Carolina, Ryan Anatol at Stony Brook, Johan Cedergren at Kentucky, Jared Embick at Akron, Chris Volk formerly at UC Irvine, Kylie Stannard at Yale, Mario Sanchez at SIUE, Nick Carlin-Voigt at Portland and John Murphy at Georgia Southern.   


Johnny Torres


Torres enters his eleventh season as a member of the coaching staff at Creighton in 2017 and seventh under head coach Elmar Bolowich. Prior to that he had a banner career as a player at Creighton during which he was a two-time national player of the year followed by a professional career in the MLS. Creighton was 13-7-3 overall in 2016 and earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the 24th time in the past 25 seasons. They then advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tourney for the third time consecutive season. The Bluejays were ranked as the number fifteen team in the country by the NSCAA in their final season ending poll and in the number seventeen spot by College Soccer News. 

Brian Maisonneuve


Maisonneuve will begin his eighth seaons as a member of the Indiana coaching staff in 2017. He played at IU from 1991 through 1994 during which time he was a two-time All-American selection and the Hermann Trophy winner his senior season. He played with the Columbus Crew for nine seasons in the MLS and served as an assistant coach with the U.S. U-17 National Team for four years and at the University of Louisville for two seasons prior to returning to Bloomington in 2010 as a member of the coaching staff. Indiana was 12-2-7 overall in 2016. They earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the 30th straight season, were awarded the number seven seed, and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the 36th time in the storied history of the IU program. 

Mike Miller


Miller will enter his second season as an associate head coach at Connecticut under the direction of Ray Reid. Miller is highly regarded by Reid who stated, "Michael is a tireless recruiter and one of the best in college soccer. " Connecticut was 11-7-1 overall in 2016. Miller's resume prior to that includes serving as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Duke for three seasons, as an assistant coach at Syracuse for four seasons, as an assistant coach at Evansville for four seasons, and a one year stint as an assistant at North Florida. Miller was an outstanding goalkeeper as a collegiate player at Jacksonville University where he received a bachelor's degree in physical educuation.  

Dane Brenner 

Wake Forest 

The High Point, North Carolina native will enter his seventh season as an assistant coach at Wake Forest in 2017 where he has served under head coach Bobby Muuss for the past two seasons. Brenner serves as the Demon Deacons recruiting cooordinator and focuses primarily on the play on the defensive side of the ball. Brenner is a former four year starter in goal at South Florida where he was an All-Conference USA selection. Brenner also served as an assistant coach at Connecticut for four seasons under Ray Reid. Wake Forest had another banner season in 2016 with a 19-3-3 overall record. They were the number two seed in the NCAA Tournament and advanced  to the national championship contest where they were edged 5-4 in a penalty kick shootout by Stanford after the contest was scoreless at the conclusion of regulation and overtime. 

Grant Porter

North Carolina

Porter begins his seventh season as an assistant coach at North Carolina under the guidance of head Carlos Somoano. Porter, who is Tar Heel born and breed, hails from Charlotte, North Carolina where he played at Providence Day High School before having a banner career as a player at UNC from 2000 through 2003 during which time he was was a four-year starter and key member of the 2001 national championship team. Porter's duties as a Tar Heel assistant coach pretty much include all aspects of the program. North Carolina was 14-3-4 overall in 2016. They had a stellar season in which they were awarded the number nine seed in the NCAA Tournament and played their way into the College Cup for the seventh time in the history of the program.    

John Mark Andrade


Andrade will enter his ninth season as an member of the Providence coaching staff and his fourth as the associate head coach under head coach Craig Stewart. Andrade served as the head coach at Dean College in 2008 before coming to Providence in 2009 under then head coach Chaka Daley who is now the head coach at Michigan. Andrade was a four-year starter at Syracuse where he was an All-Big East selection in 2000 and 2001 and team captain in 2001. He then played professionally in Portugal for Maritimo F.C. and Fafe F.C. In 2016, Providence was 15-7-0 with a 7-2-0 mark in Big East Play. The Friars claimed the Big East Regular Season title for the first time in the history of the program in 2016. They capped off a successful season with a brilliant run in the NCAA Tournament advancing past Delaware, number one seeded Maryland, and Creighton in the NCAA Tournament before falling to UNC 1-0 in the Elite Eight. 

Phil Jones


Jones begins his eighth season as a member of Mike Noonan's coaching staff at Clemson in 2017 and his seventh as the associate head coach. In 2009 Jones served under Noonan as an assistant coach at Brown. Prior to that he was an assistant coach for four seasons at his alma mater Embry-Riddle where he was a four-time All-Florida Sun Conference selection as a player from 1999 through 2002. Under Noonan's direction, Jones has been a part of a major resurgence at Clemson. The Tigers have earned five consecutive berths in the NCAA Tournament. In 2015 Clemson had a banner season in which they were 17-3-4 overall and advanced to the College Cup and the NCAA National Final. In 2016, the Tigers were 14-4-5 overall and played their way into the Elite Eight.   

Brian Rowland


Veteran Maryland head coach Sasho Cirovski speaks highly of the contribution that Rowland makes as a member of the Terp coacing staff. Rowland will enter his seventh season as an assistant coach at Maryland in 2017 and third as the Terp associate head coach. Before becoming the associate head coach Roland served as the Terp recruiting coordinator. A former four-year starter in goal and two-time captain as a collegiate player for UMBC, Rowland's has played a key role in developing several very solid Maryland goalkeepers. The Terps were 18-1-2 overall in 2016 with a program record fifteen game winning streak and a 7-0-1 mark in Big Ten play. They claimed the Big Ten Regular Season and Tournament Titles and were awarded the number one seed in the NCAA Tournament. 

Ryan Hopkins


Hopkins begins his fifth season as an assistant coach at Denver in 2017 and his third under head coach Jamie Franks who became the Pioneer head coach in 2015. Hopkins works primarily on the defensive side of the ball with a focus on the play in goal. He has helped develop a tenacious Denver defense that allowed a total of only eight goals in 2015 and thirteen in 2016 when they led the nation with a 0.46 goals against average. Hopkins also served as an assistant coach at Wisconsin for a year and at Cal Poly for four seasons. The Pioneers reached new heights in 2016 going where no other Denver team has every gone before with a 20-1-3 overall record that included the program's first ever trip to the College Cup. The Pioneers became the first team in 2016 since Clemson back in 1977-1978 to secure back-to-back unbeaten regular seasons. The Denver coacing staff was named the 2016 National Coaching Staff of the Year by the NSCAA.    

Leonard Griffin


Griffin was hired by Portland head coach Nick Carlin-Voight in 2016 where he contributed to all aspects of the program including recruiting. He previously served as an assistant coach at his alma mater UCLA in 2014 and 2015 under Jorge Salcedo. His resume also includes one season as an assistant coach at California in 2013 under Kevin Grimes and three seasons as an assistant at Saint Mary's. Griffin played at UCLA from 2000 through 2003 during which he named an All-American in 2013 and helped the Bruins secure a National Championship in 2002. He also played six seasons in the MLS. Portland made a big jump forward in 2016 winning the WCC Title for the first time since 2002 and returned to the NCAA Tournament field for the first time since the 2009 campaign. 

Bob Thompson

UMass Lowell 

Thompson will enter his fourth season at UMass Lowell in 2017 under head coach Christian Figueroa and his first as the associate head coach. UMass Lowell was 13-1-2 overall in 2016 and captured the America East Regular season championship for the first time in program history. They were in their fourth and final season of the Division I transition period in 2016 and therefore ineligible for postseason play. Thompson served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator in 2012 and 2013 under Ed Kelly at his alma mater Boston College. While a collegiate player under Kelly's guidance, he had a productive career that included being named the MVP of the Big East Tourney as a sophomore in 2000 and again as a senior in 2002 when the Eagles advanced to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament. Thompson was the top assistant and recruiting coordinator at Tufts in 2011. Thompson's resume also includes three seasons as an assistant at Northeastern. 

Jukka Masalin


Masalin will enter his sixth season as a member of Ian McIntyre's coaching staff at Syracuse and his fourth as the associate head coach. He is involved in all aspects of the program including recruiting, player training and development, game preparation, and scouting. Syracuse has emerged as a force on the national scene earning a berth in the NCAA Tournament four out of the past five seasons and advancing to the Sweet Sixteen the past three seasons. The Orange were awarded the number eight seed in the 2016 NCAA Tournament and finished the season with a solid 12-4-4 overall record. Their accomplishments in 2016  included a 0.57 goals-against-average which was the fifth best in the nation. Masalin's coaching resume also includes experience as an assistant coach at Hartwick in 2008 and 2009 and as the head assistant coach for the Atlanta Silverbacks in the USL First Divison from 2004-2007. 

Ben Pirmann

Michigan State 

Pirmann will begin his seventh season as an assistant coach at Michigan State in 2017 under the guidance of head coach Damon Rensing who has been at the helm of the Spartan program since 2009. Rensing stated, "Ben has been a part of some of the most important games and most successful seasons in recent history at MSU." Michigan State rebounded from a 8-9-2 overall record in 2015 to improve to 13-5-2 overall in 2016 to earn the program's sixth berth in the NCAA Tournament in the past eight seasons. Pirmann was a four-year letterman and three year starter as a collegiate player at Michigan State. He is involved in all aspects of the program as a member of the Spartan coaching staff. Prior to returning to East Lansing, Pirmann was an assistant coach at Western Michigan for two seasons and currently holds a National B license.  

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