It’s taken 25 years, but Pfeiffer men’s soccer head coach Bob Reasso is finally getting another chance at leading a team to an NCAA championship.
The veteran coach led Rutgers to the 1990 Division I championship game, which the Scarlet Knights lost in penalty kicks to UCLA.
Now, he will get another try at raising the trophy with his players when the Falcons (24-0) face Cal Poly Pomona (17-2-3) at 3 p.m. CT in Saturday’s Division II championship match.
“These opportunities come around so infrequently,” Reasso said. “I am lucky to have been in this position before. History is history. The only thing that really counts is tomorrow. I’ve got great players, a great community, a great school — I’m a very, very lucky man.”
Reasso also is thankful that this time around, his players will get some rest before finale, especially after the Falcons survived double overtime in hard-fought, physical game against Charleston (W.Va.) Thursday night.
“When we lost to UCLA on penalty kicks, you played on Saturday and then you played on Sunday,” Reasso said. “You played four 15-minute overtimes and then it went to penalty kicks. That was the last year it happened, probably because I complained so much. It went to a Friday-Sunday schedule the next year.”
Reasso spent 29 seasons at Rutgers before “retiring” from coaching in 2009. During his tenure with the Scarlet Knights he put together a 351-183-71 record, while advancing to the NCAA Tournament times, including three appearances in the Men’s College Cup.
The 1973 graduate of Pfeiffer returned to coaching when his alma mater called three years ago. The program has quickly improved since his arrival. In his first season in 2013, the team posted a record nine wins better than the year prior. Last year, Reasso took Pfeiffer to its first-ever NCAA Tournament.
Now, Reasso has Pfeiffer in position to be the first undefeated champion in Division II men’s soccer since Southern Connecticut State posted a 20-0 mark en route to winning it all.
“This program has really been turned around since Coach Reasso was appointed head coach,” said Pfeiffer junior striker Nathan Regis, nation’s leading scorer with 30 goals. “He has really changed the program.”
But Reasso is quick to credit his players for the turnaround of his alma mater.
“It’s emotional, but as every coach will tell you players make coaches, it’s not the other way around,” Reasso said. “We brought in good players, and we have a unique community. That closeness of our small campus really resonates in everything we do.”
Pfeiffer’s opponent in Saturday’s match, Cal Poly Pomona, also has a chance to make history. The Broncos also are playing in their first championship game. Until this season, CPP had made just one NCAA appearance (1998). This year, the Broncos have won four straight NCAA matches and enter the contest with the Falcons on an eight-game winning streak.
“I’m proud to be a part of this wonderful program,” said Cal Poly Pomona senior midfielder Alexander Turkston. “They’ve handed us a brilliant opportunity. We’ve worked hard and taken our chances. It’s paying off for us, and we’re really happy.”
The Broncos rank 15th in the nation with a 0.76 goals against average, but may have their hands full with the offensive-minded Falcons, who lead the nation with 10.33 shots on goal per game.