BRIDGEWATER, Va. --- Bridgewater College president George Cornelius and director of athletics Curt Kendall have announced the hiring of Ryan Bennison as the head coach of the College’s men’s soccer program. He succeeds Matt O’Toole who resigned after two years at the helm of the Eagles’ program.

“In Ryan we have found the person best suited to meet the high expectations we have for all our academic and extracurricular programs, including our men’s soccer program,” said Cornelius. “Ryan has proven himself to be an effective recruiter, an exceptional coach, and someone who values and fosters the academic success of his players.”

Bennison takes over the Eagles program after serving three years as the top assistant coach at Anderson University, a member of the Division III Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference. While at Anderson, he helped lead the team into the upper half of the conference standings. The Ravens finished the 2009 season with a third-place finish in the conference standings. A year later, the team turned in one of the best seasons in Anderson history with a second-place finish in both the regular season and conference tournament. Bennison recruited the conference freshman of the year in 2009 and 2010.

Bennison adds head coaching experience at both the club and high school levels. He coached three years at Ruston (La.) High School winning a district title in 2008 and finishing with a three-year record of 30-9-2. He was named the District 2-5A Louisiana Coach of the Year in 2008. He also served as head coach of the Hoosier FC Club U-16 Boys Premier Team for two seasons. He is a member of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and has earned the national diploma, goalkeeping certificate and professional development certificate.

Bennison also served three years as director of student ministries at Crossroads Church. While there he started a youth program at the church and CrossOver, an inner-city outreach program.

As a player, Bennison played four years of collegiate soccer at Anderson University where he was a starter each season. He was named the Heartland Conference Player of the Year in 2000 and was a two-time all-conference first-team selection. He was team captain twice, helping lead the Ravens to their two best seasons in school history.

Bennison graduated from Anderson with a bachelor of science in family science. He graduated summa cum laude from John Brown University with a master’s degree in ministry with an emphasis in leadership and higher education.