Neil Stafford was named the fifth head coach in the history of University of Cincinnati women's soccer by UC director of athletics Whit Babcock on Nov. 26, 2012.
Stafford arrived at UC from Central Michigan University, where he has spent the last four years, including the past two as head coach, and eight seasons as the head coach at Assumption (Mass.) College. His overall coaching record in 10 seasons is 102-71-9.
In his second season with CMU, Stafford guided the team a 15-7-1 record and the Mid-American Conference's first at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament, where they lost to Michigan in the first round in overtime, 2-1. CMU finished as the MAC regular-season and tournament runners-up, allowing the fewest goals in conference play (six) and posting the most shutouts (six).
Stafford's players earned a plethora of honors in 2012, headlined by Bailey Brandon earning MAC Defensive Player of the Year. Brandon joined four others on the All-MAC First Team, while three Chippewas received MAC All-Freshman honors. Brandon and goalkeeper Stefanie Turner earned Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-District First Team honors for the second consecutive year.
In his first season at the helm, CMU posted one of the most successful seasons in program history. The Chippewas finished with a 15-3-3 record for a school-record .786 winning percentage. CMU's three losses in 2011 were the fewest in a single season in program history. The Chippewas ranked fifth in the country in goals-against average in 2011, allowing just 0.41 goals per contest. Their seven goals allowed in the regular season set a MAC record, breaking the conference's previous record of 12.
Stafford mentored five All-MAC selections in 2011, including four first-team selections and MAC Defensive Player of the Year Liesel Toth. Just as impressively, six players were named Capitol One/CoSIDA Academic All-District V selections, including three first-team selections, also the most in program history.
Stafford's arrival to Central Michigan as an assistant coach in 2009 coincided with the program's two-year reign of the Mid-American Conference.
The Chippewas finished the 2010 campaign with a 16-5-1 record, repeating as regular season and MAC tournament champions, earning their second-straight NCAA tournament berth. The Chippewas produced four first-team All-MAC selections, three All-freshman selections and eight Academic All-MAC selections during Stafford's second season as an assistant coach. CMU became one of two teams in MAC history to win 10 conference games and earn 30 points since the league went to an 11-match format.
In Stafford's first season with CMU, the Chippewas won their first Mid-American Conference title behind a defense that led the nation with 19 shutouts. CMU went 17-4-3 and posted an unblemished 9-0-2 record in MAC play, becoming the first team in conference history to post an unbeaten league record.
With Stafford on hand, CMU churned out a league-high five first-team All-MAC selections and two specialty award winners in MAC Defensive Player of the Year Shay Mannino and MAC Freshman of the Year Bailey Brandon in 2009.
Prior to his time as an assistant at CMU, Stafford spent eight seasons as the head women's soccer coach at Assumption, where he is the program's all-time winningest coach with a 72-61-15 ledger.
At Assumption, he was named the Northeast-10 Conference Coach of the Year in 2004 after guiding the Greyhounds to their first NE-10 conference final, NCAA Division II Tournament berth and NCAA Regional final appearance. Assumption finished the season 14th in the nation with a final record of 15-6. Stafford's squad followed up the breakthrough 2004 campaign with another NCAA Tournament appearance in 2005, finishing 15-4-4 and returning to the NCAA Regional finals, climbing as high as third in the nation.
Stafford arrived at Assumption in 2000 as associate head coach of both the men's and women's soccer programs. Assumption set a men's team record for wins (13), earned a second straight Northeast-10 Conference playoff berth and then won the ECAC Division II championship.
A graduate of Marlborough (Mass.) High School, Stafford lettered in soccer, hockey and tennis and led his soccer team to the semifinals of the state tournament as a junior. He also prepped a year at Worcester Academy where he was named team MVP and earned all-New England honors.
Stafford attended Norwich University, competing in both tennis and soccer, and was named an all-region NESCAC player before transferring to Southern New Hampshire. He led the Penmen to a two-year record of 29-4-4 and then joined the coaching staff as an assistant coach for three years (1995-97), during which the team advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight. He also played professionally with the Boston Storm of the USL.
Stafford was named the Director of Operations with the Boston Renegades (W-League) in 1998 and was also Director of the W-1 National Championships in Boston that year. He later served as the head assistant coach of the Boston Renegades under Peter Bradley (1999-2001). The Renegades advanced to three national final fours and won two W-League National Championships in his final three years. His U-18 Renegades were the national runner-ups in 2000. Stafford also worked with Seacoast United Soccer Club in Hampton, N.H., as the Girls Coaching Director (2002-05). In the summer of 2004, Stafford's Seacoast United Girls 15 squad won its first Super Y-League National Championship.
Stafford earned his bachelor's degree from Southern New Hampshire in 1996 while majoring in sociology.