THERE ARE MANY EXCELLENT ASSISTANT COACHES IN THE COLLEGIATE RANKS WHO HAVE A POSITIVE IMPACT ON COLLEGE SOCCER AND PLAYER DEVELOPMENT. THE VERY BEST ARE EFFECTIVE TEACHERS, COMMUNICATORS, MOTIVATORS, RECRUITERS, AND AMBASSADORS FOR THEIR RESPECTIVE PROGRAMS. MANY, BUT NOT NECESSARILY ALL, ASSISTANT COACHES ASPIRE TO BECOME A HEAD COACH AT SOME POINT. ALL SEEK TO MAKE A POSITIVE CONTRIBUTIOIN IN THEIR CURRENT ROLE.
Damon Nahas – North Carolina – Nahas just completed his eighth season as an assistant coach and associate head coach at UNC as a member of head coach Anson Dorrance’s staff. Dorrance credits Nahas with playing a key role in developing the talent and technical expertise of the Tar Heel players and for playing a valuable role in recruiting.
Before coming to North Carolina Nahas was actively involved in player development, club coaching, and as a national team coach. He has served as the technical director of the Capital Area Soccer League in Raleigh since 2000 where he helped create and implement a technical development curriculum for the coaching staff and players. He was the head coach of the U.S. U15 Girls National Team from 2011-2014 and served as an assistant coach for the U.S. U17 Women’s National Team in 2014. Nahas’ resume also includes serving as the head coach with Cary Clarets PDL, as as assistant coach with the Carolina RailHawks, and as the head coach at Cardinal Gibbons High School.
Nahas played college soccer for North Carolina State from 1992 through 1996 and then professionally with the Wilmington Hammerheads and Capital Express.
North Carolina had another highly successful season in 2023 during which they were 13-2-8 overall, earned their 42nd consecutive berth in the NCAA Tournament, and advanced to the Elite Eight.
Ann Cook – Penn State – The 2023 season was Cook’s 17th as a member of Erica Dambach’s coaching staff at Penn State. Cook and Dambach were teammates together as collegiate players at William and Mary.
Cook’s responsibilities as an associate head coach include player development with a focus on the Nittany Lions productivity on the offensive side of the ball. Cook has been actively involved in the Soccer Without Borders program serving as a member of its advisory board with a focus on bringing about positive change in the lives of girls in Granada, Nicaragua.
Before coming to University Park, Cook honed her coaching skills as an assistant coach at Nebraska from 2005-2007 and Missouri State from 2004-2005 and as the head coach at Drury University from 1999-2000.
Cook knows what it takes to play compete as the highest level. She was a three-time All-American as a player at the College of William and Mary from 1993-1997, a member of the U.S. U-20 team from 1993-1995, and the full national team in 1998.
The Nittany Lions are coming off a banner 2023 season during which they earned their 29th straight invite to the NCAA Tournament, had a 16-3-4 overall record, and advanced to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament.
Gregg Murphy – Santa Clara – Murphy has served as the associate head at Santa Clara as a member of head coach Jerry Smith’s staff for 17 seasons.
Prior to that he was the head coach at Loyola Marymount University for 11 seasons. He has also served as an assistant coach for the U-20 National Team. Murphy began his collegiate coaching career as the coach for both the men’s and women’s programs at his alma mater Chapman from 1990 through 1995. He has also been actively involved in youth soccer over the years.
Murphy was a four-year letterwinner at Chapman from 1981 through 1984 where he was a two-time All-America selection and a three-time All-Conference honoree.
Santa Clara had another very productive season in 2023 during which they were 14-5-2, earned the program’s ninth straight invite to the NCAA Tournament, and became one of only two teams (FSU is the other) to have won an NCAA Tournament game for nine consecutive seasons.
Jamie Smith – South Carolina – Smith joined head coach Shelley Smith’s staff since 2001. He served as an assistant coach at South Carolina for two seasons before being named associate head coach in 2003.
Smith is involved in recruiting and works primarily with the defensive unit annually developing a talented and organized Gamecock defense with an impressive goals against average including the 2023 team that only allowed a total of 12 goals against a very competitive slate of opponents. South Carolina was 12-3-6 overall in 2023 and earned the program’s 11th straight berth in the NCAA Tournament. Smith has helped develop a lot of talented players including most recently Gracie Falla, the SEC Defender of the Year, and netminder Heather Hinz, the 2023 SEC Goalkeeper of the Year and a First-Team Scholar All-American.
Smith’s coaching experience also includes serving as as assistant coach at Brown, Dartmouth College, and as an Interim Head Coach at Vermont. He was a three-year starter as a goalkeeper at Providence College where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree. Smith also played professional soccer after graduating from Providence.
Ryan Higginbotham – TCU – Higginbotham has been a member of head coach Eric Bell’s staff at TCU since Bell became the head coach in 2012. He serves as the associate head coach, the top recruiting assistant, and is actively involved in player training and development. He has played a key role in bringing on board top level talent.
During his tenure to date the Horned Frogs have made their presence known in the highly competitive Big 12 Conference as well as on the national scene earning a berth in the NCAA Tournament seven times in the last eight seasons.
Before coming to TCU Higginbotham served as an assistant coach with the men’s soccer programs at Furman and Akron. He also was the Director of Coaching for the girls division at the Dallas Soccer Club during which time the Texans club claimed four national championships and Higginbotham was named the 2009 NSCAA Girls Youth National and Regional Coach of the Year.
Tim Rosenfeld – Wisconsin – Rosenfeld has been the Badgers associate head coach since 2007 as a member of head coach Paula Wilkins staff.
Rosenfeld works primarily with goalkeepers and strikers. He also is involved in scheduling, recruiting and training sessions. Under his guidance the Badgers have produced an outstanding group of goalkeepers including most recently Erin McKinney who had a 0.68 goals against average with ten shutouts in 2023 and Jordyn Bloomer who was a 2021 All-American and two-time Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year.
Rosenfeld was an assistant coach at Penn State for six seasons and was the was the head women’s soccer coach at St. Francis from 1998 through 2000. He played college soccer for the University of Toronto where he was a goalkeeper and served as team captain as a senior. He also played professionally for ten seasons in the Canadian Soccer League after graduating from the University of Toronto in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education.
Lisa Stoia – West Virginia – Stoia joined the coaching staff at her alma mater West Virginia in 2007 and has served as the senior associate head coach since 2017 under the direction of head coach Nikki Isso-Brown who has been the Mountaineer head coach since the program began. Stoia is actively involved in on-field coaching assistance playing a key role over the years in player development and mentoring. She also manages the Mountaineers’ on-campus visitation, recruiting, and scouting.
Stoia was a student assistant coach at West Virginia in 2004 and an assistant coach at Jacksonville University in 2005 and 2006. She also has national coaching experience, assisting with the US U-19 Women’s National Team Training Camp in 2018.
Stoia had a banner four-year career as a midfielder at West Virginia from 2000-2003 during which she was a four-year letterwinner, set the Mountaineer career record for assists with 33 and games played with 87, and was named the Big East Midfielder of the Year and an NSCAA All-American. She earned a bachelor’s degree in sport management from West Virginia in 2005 and a Master of Business Administration from Jacksonville University in 2007.
West Virginia has earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament 22 out of the last 24 seasons and won the Big 12 Conference Tournament five times with the most recent being the 2022 season.
Mike Piserchio – Alabama – Piserchio joined the Alabama coaching staff as an assistant coach under head coach Wes Hart in 2015. In 2020 he was was promoted to associate head coach. He serves as Director of Player Development with a focus on coaching attacking and transition tactics and defending set pieces. He also serves as the program’s liaison to the strength and conditioning coach, oversees the community service program, and plays a key role in talent identification and recruiting.
Piscerchio was the Director of Coaching for the Colorado Rush for ten years before coming to Tuscaloosa during which time he oversaw the girls ECNL teams, and was an assistant coach for the 2008 U18 Girls National Championship team.
Piserchio played college soccer at the University of San Diego and the University of Denver where he was an NSCAA West Region selection as a senior. He played for one season with the Colorado Rapids of the MLS where he and Hart were teammates in 2003.
During his tenure at Alabama the Tide has earned a berth in the NCAA in 2017, 2021, 2022 and 2023 seasons. Alabama won their first SEC regular season title in 2022 and advanced to the College Cup with a program best 23 wins. Alabama is coming off a productive 2023 season in which they were 12-5-5 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
P.J. Woolridge – UC Irvine – Woolridge has been a member of head coach Scott Juniper’s staff at UC Irvine since 2014 serving as the associate head coach for the past nine seasons.
Before that he was an assistant coach at Cal Poly for eight seasons, at San Diego for three seasons, and at USC for three seasons.
Woolridge was a four-year starter as a player at Cal Poly where he was a two-time first-team all conference selection. He graduated from Cal Poly in 2000 with a degree in psychology. He was a two-time High School All-American at Leland High School and member of the Youth National Team in 1991 and 1993. Woolridge has a USSF National A license.
UC Irvine won the program’s third straight Big West Conference title in 2023 and secured the program’s fifth berth in the NCAA Tournament. They upset number one seed UCLA in the first round and topped Gonzaga to advance to the Sweet Sixteen where they fell to Nebraska to conclude a successful season with a 10-8-6 overall record.
Mike Calise – Harvard – Calise has been a member of the coaching staff in Cambridge for sixteen seasons. He was an assistant coach at Harvard in 2005 and 2006 and from 2010 through 2012 and has served as the associate head coach since the 2013 season. Calise has been a valuable member of Chris Hamblin’s coaching staff since Hamblin became the Crimson head coach in 2016.
Calise serves as the program’s recruiting coordination and is actively involved in team training and player development including most recently defender Jade Rose and midfielders Josefine Hasbo and Hanah Bebar among others. Calise has also served as an assistant coach at Boston College, Arizona State and Princeton. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Boston College where he was a four-year member of the soccer team.
Harvard is coming off a banner 2023 season in which they were 13-4-2 and won the first Ivy League Tournament Championship. The Crimson have earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the three straight seasons and had 12 or more wins in four consecutive seasons.
Jeff Robbins – Clemson – The 2023 season was Robbins 13th as the associate head coach at Clemson as a member of head coach Eddie Radwanski’s coaching staff.
His responsibilities includes serving as the program’s recruiting coordinator, team training with a focus on coaching field players, developing team tactics, and game planning. Robbins has played a key role in bringing a lot of talented players to Clemson including most recently midfielder Megan Bornkamp. defender Makenna Morris and goalkeeper Halle Mackiewicz.
Before coming to Clemson, Robbins was the first assistant at UNC Greensboro from 2008 through 2010 after serving as a volunteer assistant in 2007. Prior to that he spent eight years as the Executive Director and Director of Coaching for the Women’s Spokane Youth Soccer Academy in Spokane, Washington from 1000-2007. From 1997 through 2006 he was the General Manager of the United Soccer League’s Spokane Shadow.
Robbins was a four-year starter at NAIA schools Westmont College and Whitworth University. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in political science from Whitworth in 1995. He holds advanced coaching licenses from USSF and NSCAA.
Clemson is coming off a history making 2023 season during which they were 18-4-4 overall and advanced to the College Cup for the first time in program history. The Tigers have earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the past ten seasons.
Phil Stephenson – Texas A and M – Stephenson has been a member of head coach G. Guerrieri’s staff at Texas A and M for 25 seasons including 14 as the associate head coach.
Stephenson was the Director of Coaching for Buffalo and western New York and served as an assistant coach at Lock Haven University and was the head coach at Methodist College in Fayetteville, North Carolina for four seasons before joining Coach Guerrieri as an assistant coach at Texas A and M in 1999. He played collegiate soccer for Lock Haven University where he was named one of the top 25 players of the century for the university.
Stephenson working in concert with Guerrieri has played has played a key role in player development, team tactics, mentoring, and the development of a winning culture at Texas A and M.
Stephenson is among the reasons why the Aggies have nine SEC regular season titles, seven SEC tournament titles. and have been a staple in the NCAA Tournament with 28 appearances in the last 29 seasons, 15 trips to the Sweet Sixteen, seven appearances to the Elite Eight, and advanced to the College Cup in 2014.