Nov. 26, 2012
CINCINNATI — Neil Stafford has been named women’s soccer head coach at the University of Cincinnati, as announced Monday by UC director of athletics Whit Babcock.
Stafford comes to UC from Central Michigan University where he has spent the last four years, including the past two as head coach. He’d previously served eight seasons as head coach at NCAA Division II Assumption College in Worcester, Mass., where he became the school’s all-time winningest head coach. His overall coaching record in 10 seasons is 102-71-9.
“I am very pleased to bring Neil Stafford to UC to be our women’s soccer head coach,” said Babcock. “He comes to lead the Bearcats having already proved himself as a builder of championship-caliber teams. He coaches winners on the field and in the classroom, already has a successful recruiting base here in Ohio and brings a blue-collar work ethic to the job. He is a great fit for our program.”
The Chippewas finished 15-7-1 this past season, ending their season in an overtime loss to the University of Michigan in the first round of the NCAA national championship tournament. They won the west division of the Mid-American Conference and were the No. 2 seed for the league’s postseason tournament, reaching the finals and losing to top-seeded Miami University. The Chippewas season was further highlighted by a 2-0 win over West Virginia University, which would go on to win the Big XII Conference championship, and a scoreless draw at 12th-ranked Marquette University. CMU was extended an at-large invitation to the NCAA national championship tournament, becoming the first program in MAC history to earn an at-large. The Chippewas ended the season with an RPI of 36 and were ranked third in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Great Lakes Region.
In 2011, the Chippewas were 15-3-3, the best single-season winning percentage in school history, and set the MAC record for fewest goals allowed in conference regular-season play with four. The team’s 0.41 goals against average was fifth-best in the nation.
Along with the on-field success, Stafford’s teams also had impressive academic achievements. The Chippewas earned the NSCAA Team Academic Award both years, posting the highest team cumulative grade point average in the nation in 2011 and ninth best in 2012. Six student-athletes earned College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-America honors during Stafford’s two years at the helm.
“It is an honor to be a part of the Bearcats family,” said Stafford. “I am incredibly grateful to Whit and (women’s soccer administrative oversight) Brendan Fouracre for this opportunity to lead this program forward.
“I would also like to thank Central Michigan University for the wonderful opportunity they gave me. The support and guidance that (CMU athletic director) Dave Heeke, (CMU executive associate director of athletics) Marcy Weston and the rest of the CMU family gave me has allowed me to make this jump to UC and the Big East. I will look back fondly on my time at CMU and cherish the memories we were able to make there.
“With UC, it’s about looking forward and focusing on the task at hand. It’s going to be a wonderful project and I look forward to making the UC family and the city of Cincinnati incredibly proud of this soccer program.”
At Assumption, Stafford twice led the Greyhounds to the NCAA Division II national championship tournament regional finals. His 2005 team was ranked as high as third in the nation and he was the Northeast-10 Conference coach of the year in 2004.
Stafford came to Assumption as associate head coach in 2000 and was named head coach a year later. He left to become an assistant coach at CMU in 2009 and was promoted to head coach in 2011.
Stafford served as an assistant coach for the W-League’s Boston Renegades from 1999 to 2001, helping to guide the team to two championships during that time. He was also an assistant coach at his alma mater, Southern New Hampshire University from 1995 to 1997.
Stafford earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology from Southern New Hampshire University in 1996.