Gonzalez takes over at NJIT
Former Dayton assistant becomes Highlanders head coach
NEWARK, N.J. -- Sergio Gonzalez is the new head women’s soccer coach at New Jersey Institute of Technology after assisting multiple championship seasons, including teams at the University of Dayton that advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division I Tournament following both the 2009 and 2010 seasons, NJIT Director of Athletics Lenny Kaplan announced.
Gonzalez spent five seasons at Dayton, which finished 16-1-6 in 2009 and 19-3-1 in 2010 to cap off a total record of 71-21-15 in his time with the Flyers, who were Atlantic 10 Conference champions each of the last two years.
The Dayton class that completed its career in 2010 was ranked 15th in the nation for wins in the players’ four-year careers. The 2009 Flyers also ranked 25th in the final national poll.
Gonzalez assisted head coach Mike Tucker in all aspects of the program, including being the team’s goalkeepers coach and recruiting coordinator.
Under Gonzalez's tutelage, two Flyer goalkeepers earned Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year honors; Niki Reed in 2007 and Katherine Boone in 2009. Lisa Rodgers, who had played youth soccer for Gonzalez in Pennsylvania, earned First Team A-10 honors in 2010, while Reed and Boone also raked in First Team honors.
In 2009, Dayton ranked second nationally in goals against average, while posting a school-record 15 shutouts. In 2010, the Flyers were 10th in goals against average and fifth in shutout percentage.
In Sergio’s last three seasons at Dayton, he was the top assistant for Coach Tucker, the four-time Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year and 2009 NSCAA Region Coach of the Year.
“Sergio is one of the rising young stars in the coaching profession,” said Coach Tucker, who has 235 wins in 16 seasons at Dayton, of his departing assistant. “I hate to lose him, but the chance to have his own program at NJIT is great for him and great for the program there. I don’t have a bit of doubt that he’ll do well.
“He takes pride in his coaching and he’s in it for the players. He has a passion for coaching and he is a tremendous teacher who is very good working with the players to make them better. He’ll make the players (NJIT has) better and he’s a tireless recruiter who will bring in players who will make the program even better.”
Gonzalez worked with Coach Tucker to recruit and coach three Atlantic 10 Defensive Players of the Year, two A10 Offensive Players of the Year, an A-10 Rookie of the Year and an A-10 Midfielder of the Year. One Flyer was a first-team NSCAA All-American in 2009 and two were second-team All-Americans in 2010.
Before joining the Flyers, Gonzalez was an assistant coach under head coach Noreen Herlihy at Division II Slippery Rock (PA) for six seasons (2000-05). At The Rock, he helped the women's team to the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference regular season championship in 2003 and 2004. He also coached three consecutive PSAC Player of the Year honorees, as well as the 2003 PSAC Rookie of the Year.
In 2003 and 2005, Slippery Rock captured the PSAC Tournament championship. The Rock advanced to the national Division II Tournament Round of 16 in 2001 and played in the Tournament first round in 2003.
At Slippery Rock, Gonzalez helped coach a first-team Division II All-American, the 2003 PSAC Player and Rookie of the Year, two All-Americans in 2003, and the 2005 PSAC Player of the Year.
His coaching experience also includes being a director for former United States Women's National Team, Olympic gold medal and World Cup-winning coach Tony DiCicco's Soccer Plus Goalkeeper Camp since 2001.
“Sergio is a great young professional,” said DiCicco. “He’s a soccer junkie who studies the game and he’s learned the ropes with some really good programs and coaches. Being a Division I head coach is a great opportunity that he’s earned.”
While at Dayton, Sergio was the head goalkeeper coach for the Ohio South Olympic Development program and a member of the Region II Olympic Development Program Coaching Staff.
He is currently on the NSCAA Goalkeeper Academy staff and was Director of Goalkeeping for the Ohio Elite Soccer Academy.
Gonzalez is a former standout college goalkeeper in his own right as a four -year starter and team captain at Salve Regina University in Newport, RI, where he holds all the season and career records. He earned three all-conference honors and was a second-team All-Region selection in 1999. He also earned Salve Regina's "Male Athlete of the Year" award in 1999-2000.
Prior to enrolling at Salve Regina, he earned first-team All-State Group 4, Section I recognition at Vernon Township (NJ) High School. His parents still live in Vernon and he is thrilled about returning to the Garden State. “I have a ton of family in the area and it will be great to be around them and have their support."
Gonzalez, who holds a NSCAA Premier Coaching Diploma, received his BA in criminal justice from Salve Regina in 2000. He received his master's degree in student personnel from Slippery Rock in 2003.
“I was very happy when Sergio accepted our offer to become the next head coach for women’s soccer here at NJIT,” said Lenny Kaplan. “This is an exciting time for our program, and I believe Sergio is the guy to help us take our next big step.
“He is a high-energy Jersey native who has been associated with two great programs. And there is no question better times are ahead for the NJIT women's soccer program, and Sergio is the coach to get us there.”
Gonzalez is thankful to his mentors. “I’ve been lucky to work for a lot of great coaches—Tony (DiCicco), his assistant (with the professional Boston Breakers) Lisa Cole (formerly head coach at the University of Rhode Island), Noreen (Herlihy, head coach at Slippery Rock), and Mike Tucker.
“Noreen gave me my first chance to be a coach and it was a great experience helping to build a program from the ground floor to a championship. And then at Dayton, to help get it back up to where it had been a few years earlier under Mike (Tucker). The biggest thing I learned from Mike is that he cares more about them as people than as soccer players. Players have to want to play for you and they’re going to feel that way if they know you care for them.”
Gonzalez sees a bright future for NJIT women’s soccer, which is entering its 16th all-time season and its sixth season of Division I competition.
"I’m excited about this chance at NJIT seeing the resources we have,” said the new coach. “Looking at what we had as a young program at Slippery Rock and then at Dayton, I think the resources are here for this to be a competitive regional program, where we can challenge the top teams.”
Gonzalez is also pleased to retain Manda Risden as assistant coach. Risden, who joined the NJIT staff in 2008, oversaw the program following the resignation of former head coach Kevin Leacock. Prior to coaching at NJIT, Risden had been an assistant coach at Brown for four years and at Rutgers the four years before that. She played high-level Division I soccer at Clemson and Auburn.
“She’s a great person and I’m really happy to have her stay on staff,” said Gonzalez. “She did a fantastic job working with the players in the (coaching) transition, keeping this group together. The work she put in has made it so much easier for me coming in and since we’ve been working together, I’ve found that we share the same vision of what makes a good player and a good program, so I couldn’t be happier.”