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Erik Ronning
Colgate University
Head Coach

Since his arrival in 2005, the Raiders have made the Patriot League Tournament in six of the seven seasons, winning consecutive Patriot League Championships in 2007 and 2008 as well as the most recent title in 2011. The Raiders 2007 Championship marked Colgate’s first title in 10 years, and the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance in 41 years. In 2008, the Raiders won both the regular season Patriot League Title as well as the Tournament Title.

In his first year, Ronning made great strides with the program, guiding the team to its first Patriot League Tournament appearance since 1999. The Raiders had one of the best starts in history, going undefeated in their first five games. Posting a 9-7-3 overall record, six of the squad’s seven losses were by just a single goal.
Eclipsing the previous season, Colgate began the 2006 with a nine-game unbeaten streak, which included six shutouts. Ronning’s Raiders were one of the final three unbeaten teams in the country and the last team in the nation to allow a goal. The squad finished in the top 12 in three NCAA defensive statistical categories. Ronning helped put Colgate men’s soccer on the map as the squad appeared in the national rankings and earned a mention on His players were honored by the NSCAA, the Patriot League, and multiple soccer news outlets.

The 2007 campaign is a season that Colgate soccer fans will not soon forget. After an undefeated season at Van Doren Field, Colgate advanced to the Patriot League Championship game after a shootout win over Bucknell in the semifinals. In the title tilt, Colgate defeated Lafayette, 1-0, and was selected to play South Florida in Tampa in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Despite out-shooting the Bulls, the Raiders fell 2-1. Eric Anton (’08) and Dan Belke (’08) were named the Patriot League Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, respectively and Daniel Kerley (’09) became the program’s first ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American.

Following a successful 2008 season, the Raiders attempted to continue the streak in 2009. Despite putting forth a strong effort, the Raiders were unable to reclaim their title as Patriot League Champions. Chris Ross (’10), was drafted by Chivas USA in the fourth round of the MLS SuperDraft and teammate Alex Weekes (’10), was chosen to play with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds of the USL second division after taking part in the USL Showcase.

In the 2010 season, Ronning lead his team to an 8-6-5 overall record. The Raiders were ranked in the NSCAA Mid-Atlantic Region poll all season, reaching the No. 1 spot for two consecutive weeks on Sept. 26 and Oct. 5, during which the team was also ranked No. 24 nationally (on the week of Oct. 5). Colgate also went 5-0-2 in conference play, winning the 2010 Patriot League Regular Season title, earning him the Patriot League Coach of the Year award. He also had seven players named to the all-league teams as well as the Goalkeeper of the Year.

Ronning then led the 2011 team to its fifth Patriot League Tournament Title and NCAA appearance with an 11-5-6 overall record. After narrowly missing out on a regular-season title, the team was able to advance to the championship game as the No. 2 seed on penalty kicks and eventually defeat host and No. 1 seed, American, to secure the title. The Raiders fell to Rutgers in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament in Piscataway, N.J. He had five players named to the All-Patriot League Teams as well as the Patriot League Offensive Player and Rookie of the Year. Three players were selected to the NSCAA All-Mid-Atlantic Teams and one was an ECAC All-Star Second Team Selection. PL Rookie of the Year Jimmy McLaughlin signed with the Philadelphia Union at the end of the season while PL Offensive Player of the Year Steven Miller was invited to attend the InfoSport Pro Soccer Combine.

A former Raider himself, Ronning was a four-year starter and team captain in 1996. He was named first-team all-Patriot League and team MVP his senior year. After graduation, Ronning worked as Colgate’s assistant coach from 1997-2001, where he was the primary recruiting coordinator. His recruiting efforts included five all-New York region selections, one Patriot League Rookie of the Year, and 10 all-Patriot League selections. The 1998 team earned a national ranking while the 1997 squad was both the Patriot League regular season and tournament champions and appeared in an NCAA play-in game.

In 2001, Ronning was hired as the Northwestern University men’s soccer assistant coach. In his four years with the Wildcats, Ronning moved up in the coaching ranks, becoming an associate coach under two-time NSCAA Regional Coach of the Year Tim Lenahan. He was an essential part of Northwestern’s success in putting them on the radar in the national picture.

After finishing the 2000 and 2001 seasons with a combined 1-30-4 record, the Wildcats improved leaps and bounds. In 2004, the school earned its first top 25 national ranking with a 15-6-2 record. The squad set school records for most wins in a season, most conference victories, highest regular season finish in the Big Ten and reached the championship game of the Big Ten Tournament. The Wildcats made their first NCAA Tournament appearance and were the only first-year team to advance to the second round of the tournament.
With responsibilities including field coaching, player development, opponent scouting and game preparation, as well as recruitment of prospective student-athletes, Ronning was recognized by College Soccer News as one of the top assistant coaches in the country in both 2002 and 2004.

Outside of collegiate soccer, Ronning has been the head coach of the Sockers FC Chicago, a highly competitive elite boys soccer club for two years. He has also been a member of the USYSA Region II Olympic Development Program staff and a scout for the Adidas Elite Soccer Program (ESP). Ronning also coached the New York State West Olympic Development under-17, under-15 and under-14 teams from 1999-2001.

He holds an NSCAA Advanced National diploma as well as a United States Soccer Federation (USSF) ‘A’ coaching license.

Mark Plotkin
Depaul University
Assistant Coach

Former Blue Demon standout midfielder Mark Plotkin was named assistant coach Feb. 6, 2012 after spending the last two seasons as the Director of Operations for Northwestern men’s soccer.
Plotkin was a four-year starter for DePaul coach Craig Blazer and finished his career in 2009 tied for fifth all-time in games started He was an integral part of the most successful men’s soccer class in school history.
Plotkin and classmates Steffen Vroom and Patrick Hopkins helped lead DePaul to four consecutive appearances in the BIG EAST Championship tournament, including final four appearances in 2007 and 2008.
Plotkin was a driving force behind the Blue Demons winning their first BIG EAST Red Division title and earning their first appearance in the NCAA tournament in 2007. What Plotkin, Hopkins, Vroom and their classmates had was a special quality that allowed them to evolve in to a gritty band of overachievers.

Joe Alhern
Northwestern University
Assistant Coach

Joe Ahearn joined the Northwestern men’s soccer program in February of 2013 as an assistant coach. Ahearn arrives at Northwestern after six seasons as the head men’s soccer coach at Missouri S&T and also worked on the coaching staffs at Colgate and DePaul.

"Joe is a great addition for Northwestern," Lenahan said. "He has been one of the most well-liked and well-respected coaches at each of his stops. In contacting references Jean Lenti Ponsetto, Director of Athletics at DePaul, Vicky Chun, Director of Athletics at Colgate, and Mark Mullin, Director of Athletics at Missouri S+T, they were unanimous in their raves about Joe as a terrific person and great coach. In addition to working our camp for the last 10 years and having worked closely with head coach Erik Ronning (former Northwestern assistant coach) at Colgate. Ahearn comes to Northwestern with 11 years of coaching experience, including six as a head coach. While at Missouri S&T, Ahearn enjoyed success as the first coach to lead the Miners to the NCAA Division II Tournament and the regional championships game. In 2010 the Miners were GLVC Regular Season Co-Champions and he was honored as a finalist for the Division II National Coach of the Year award while also earning the distinction of Great Lakes Valley Conference Coach of the Year.

He also coached the first two All-Americans in program history in goalkeeper Pat McNamee and defender Spencer Brinkmeyer. Both players were key components to the Miner defense in 2010 that posted 11 shutouts and had the third-best shutout percentage in NCAA Division II.

During his two seasons at Colgate, Ahearn helped guide the Raiders to two appearances in the Patriot League Tournament and was the assistant director of the university’s boys soccer camps.

Ahearn began his coaching career at his alma mater, DePaul, spending three seasons on the Blue Demon sideline. Aside from his coaching duties, he served as the primary recruiting coordinator and liaison between the student-athletes and athletic academic counseling. The Blue Demons received the Conference USA Academic Excellence Award in 2003 and six players were named to the Conference USA Commissioners Honor Roll during his tenure.

Prior to that, he worked as the equipment operations coordinator for the United States Soccer Federation and traveled with the national team to the 2002 World Cup, held in South Korea and Japan. He also traveled with the team when it took part in the Under-20 World Championships in Argentina.
A 2000 DePaul graduate, Ahearn played 67 games over his four-year career and started every game his last three seasons. He was selected to the Conference USA all-league team as a third-team selection following the 1999 season and was chosen as his team’s most valuable player.

He is the holder of a United States Soccer Federation National A coaching license.

Neil Jones
Loyola University
Head Coach

Neil Jones, who has spent the last three seasons as the associate head coach at Northwestern University, was named head coach of the Loyola University Chicago men’s soccer program on December 20, 2012. In addition to helping the Wildcats to back-to-back Big Ten Conference titles and NCAA Tournament appearances during his stay in Evanston, Ill., the Auckland, New Zealand native helped UC Santa Barbara to the 2006 national championship as an assistant coach for the Gauchos.
Jones spent three years as head coach Tim Lenahan’s right-hand man at Northwestern and helped the Wildcats to a pair of NCAA appearances, including a run to the Sweet Sixteen this fall. During his three seasons on Lenahan’s staff at Northwestern, the Wildcats compiled a 32-19-11 (.605) record, posted an Academic Progress Rate (APR) of 1000, and earned a National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Team Academic Team for having a team grade-point average of 3.0 or higher.
Prior to his arrival in the Midwest, Jones spent four years as an assistant men’s soccer coach at his alma mater, UC Santa Barbara, where he helped the Gauchos win 68 percent (57-23-12) of their matches and advance to four NCAA Tournaments.
As a student-athlete at UCSB, Jones was a four-year starter and two-time team captain for a program that finished as the 2004 NCAA Runner-Up after falling to Indiana University on penalty kicks. A two-time All-Big West Conference selection, the center back/striker, who racked up 28 goals and 16 assists in his career, was a Academic All-American and was tabbed 2003 Big West Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
A 2004 graduate of UC Santa Barbara, Jones also owns a master’s degree from UCSB. He holds an "A" license from the United State Soccer Federation (USSF).

Cailean Bailey
Yale University
Assistant Coach

Bailey completed his second year as a member of Brian Tompkins’ staff in 2012. In his first year with the program, the Bulldogs won five more games overall than the previous year and three more Ivy games.
At Yale, Bailey has coached five All-Ivy selections and a Third Team Academic All-American and two Academic All-Region honorees.
Bailey joined the Yale staff after spending two years at Valparaiso. The Crusaders posted a 19-15-4 overall record during his tenure, the best two-season mark in program history. He tutored 2009 Horizon League Goalkeeper of the Year Ryan Schwarz. In addition, he served as head reserve team coach leading them to a 20-4-3 record over two seasons.
Bailey also has experience coaching ODP and US Development Academy teams, while also serving as a staff member at elite high school recruiting camps throughout the country. In addition, he serves as the head coach of the Connecticut Beachside Soccer Club Under-15 Boys team.

Bailey was a four-year letterwinner at Illinois College, where he served as team captain for three seasons. He earned a bachelor’s degree in communications and rhetorical science as well as a bachelor’s degree in management and organizational leadership (sport) in 2008. He then completed his master’s degree in sports administration from Valparaiso in 2010.

Joey Worthen
University of South Carolina
Assistant Coach

Former South Carolina standout Joey Worthen joins the coaching staff as an assistant coach for the 2012 season. Worthen was a letterwinner for the Gamecocks from 1998-2001.
While at South Carolina, Worthen was a four-year starter for the Gamecocks, and served as team captain during his senior season. He was named the Independent Rookie of the Year in 1998, while he helped lead Carolina to the NCAA Tournament in 1998, 2000 and 2001. In his career, South Carolina posted 50 victories, while individually, Worthen scored 25 goals and collected 15 assists for 65 points. He scored 12 game winners for Carolina.
Following his time with the Gamecocks, Worthen went on to play nine years professionally. He spent time with Real Salt Lake in Major League Soccer, while also playing for the Carolina Railhawks and the Richmond Kickers. He was named the Rookie of the Year while playing for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, when he led the team in minutes, starts and assists. He played in the 2005 USL Championship game with the Kickers, and then in 2010 helped the squad capture the Championship title.
Worthen has coaching experience as a volunteer assistant with Huston-Tilotson University in Austin, Texas and one season as an undergrad assistant at South Carolina. He holds his USSF National "B" License.

Devin Rensing
Stevens University
Head Coach

Head coach Devin Rensing lead the Stevens Institute of Technology men’s soccer team to the Sectional Final of the NCAA Division III Men’s Soccer Championship last Fall, collecting the team’s eighth-straight conference championship and amassing an 18-3-1 record. Rensing’s first season on the banks of the Hudson included a 16-game winning streak, an 18-game unbeaten streak and the team’s first perfect Empire 8 regular season and tournament since 2007. The Ducks boasted nine All-Empire 8 selections and two Capital One / CoSIDA Academic All-District student-athletes.
Rensing came to Castle Point from Harvard University, where he was the assistant coach for the past six months. Prior to joining the Crimson, he was the assistant at Colgate University.
In his last season at Colgate, Rensing helped guide the Raiders to an undefeated record in Patriot League play and a top-25 national ranking. The team was ranked fifth in the final regular-season Mid-Atlantic National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Poll.
The Raiders were ranked in the NSCAA Mid-Atlantic Region poll all season, reaching the No. 1 spot for two consecutive weeks on Sept. 26 and Oct. 5, during which the team was also ranked No. 24 nationally (on the week of Oct. 5). Colgate went 5-0-2 in conference play, winning the 2010 Patriot League Regular Season title.
In total, Rensing won four Patriot League titles with Colgate, including back-to-back championship seasons in 2007 and 2008. He helped to mold over a dozen All-Patriot League selections and the Raiders posted an overall record of 37-26-11 with a splendid 18-5-5 Patriot League mark in that time.
Rensing came to Colgate from the University of Central Arkansas, where he was the assistant men’s soccer coach during the 2006-07 academic year. He helped the Bears make the transition from Division II to Division I, earning a 6-8-2 mark in their first season at the top tier. Rensing was in charge of travel arrangements, scouting opponents, game tape breakdown, recruitment, and helped plan and run practices.
He spent 2005-06 as an assistant coach at Loyola University Chicago, where he was in charge of conditioning, travel, training goalkeepers, and organizing specific alumni events.
Rensing transferred to Eastern Illinois University in 1999 from Forest Park Community College. He played for the Panthers for two seasons, earning third-team all-Missouri Valley Conference honors as team captain. Rensing graduated in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology.
A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Rensing has worked with the Arkansas Olympic Development Program since February 2006, acting as head coach of the ’94 boys state team.

Rich Nassif
Benedictine University Athletics
Head Coach

Nassif has spent the last three seasons as an assistant at his alma mater, Northwestern University. This fall, Northwestern won the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles for the first time in school history, advancing to the NCAA Tournament and finishing ranked 22nd in the nation. During his tenure at Northwestern, the Wildcats reached the NCAA Tournament on six occasions and received a ranking as high as second nationally.

Nassif worked with the goalkeepers daily and helped mentor all-time shutout holder Misha Rosenthal as well as 2011 First Team All-Big Ten and Freshman All-American selection Tyler Miller. Additionally, Nassif was involved in all aspects of recruiting, conditioning, scouting, and travel.

Nassif graduated from Northwestern University in 2007 with a double major in history and political sciences. Nassif worked his way from a walk-on who joined the soccer program after an injury late in preseason, to a captain prior to his senior campaign. Nassif began his professional tenure at Northwestern as the Director of Operations in 2007. The Chicago resident holds a NSCAA Advanced National Diploma.

Matt Klosterman
North Central College
Head Coach

Matt Klosterman was hired as the head men’s soccer coach at North Central College before the start of the 2007 season. Klosterman has compiled a 35-46-6 (.437) mark at the helm in five seasons, including a 10-5-2 campaign in 2011, the team’s best finish since the 1999 season.

He guided the previously winless Cardinals to a 4-12-1 finish in his first season at the helm, then followed with a record of 8-9 in 2008, guiding North Central to its first Sal Vaccaro Tournament Title since 2004. His 2009 squad finished 8-10, capturing the Sal Vaccaro Title for the second straight season, the first time the feat has been accomplished since the 1998 and 1999 seasons. Under Klosterman’s direction the 2009 Cardinals recorded the most wins in College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin play since 1999.
Klosterman came to the College after five years as the head men’s and women’s coach at Buena Vista University (Iowa), where he recorded the highest win total and highest winning percentage in club history. His teams qualified for the conference postseason tournament in each of his last four years at the helm. Klosterman coached 19 all-conference players (men and women), 32 Academic All-Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (IIAC) honorees, eight College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District award-winners, and three CoSIDA Academic All-Americans. In addition to his coaching duties, Klosterman served as an instructor in the exercise science department at Buena Vista.
Klosterman joined Buena Vista after being an assistant coach at Loras College and head coach of Dubuque Senior High School in Dubuque, Iowa, for two seasons. A native of Dubuque, Klosterman was captain of his squad at Dubuque Senior High School and was also a captain at Loras College.
In 1999-2000 he coached in Bogota, Colombia, leading a high school girls team to conference semifinals in the first year of their program. He graduated magna cum laude with a double major in English Literature and History from Loras in 1999. He was an NSCAA Academic All-Region student-athlete and a two-time All-IIAC Academic Team member. He received his master’s degree in athletic administration from Loras in 2002. Klosterman holds a National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Premier Diploma and a master’s degree in athletic administration. The Premier Diploma is the top-level soccer coaching course offered in the U.S.

Joe Clark
Washington University
Head Coach

Joe Clarke has continued Washington University’s tradition as a soccer power, having led the Bears to a 177-79-32 (.670) record in 15 seasons. Clarke, the head coach at Saint Louis University for 14 years, was named Washington U.’s sixth men’s soccer coach in May 1997.
Clarke has guided the WU men’s soccer team to 14 winning seasons during his tenure on the Danforth Campus, and he has won at least 11 games in 11 of those campaigns.
Last year the Bears posted a 15-4-1 record, securing the program’s ninth-straight winning season and the second-most single-season wins under Clarke’s guidance. The Bears also advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row, falling 1-0 to eventual national champion Ohio Wesleyan University.
In 2010, Washington U. started the year with a 10-0-2 record, marking the program’s best start to a season since 1979. Clarke earned 2010 NSCAA Central Region Coach of the Year accolades for the first time in his career. Clarke wasted little time building on Washington U.’s storied soccer tradition. He quickly fused his team into a formidable unit that advanced to the NCAA regional final – falling to eventual national champion Wheaton College. The Bears finished his first year with a 14-6 ledger. Clarke coached several All-Americans at Saint Louis, including 1995 Missouri Athletic Club National Player of the Year, Matt McKeon. He was named either a conference or region coach of the year three times with the Billikens. In his last six years with the Billikens, Clarke guided SLU to four league championships, including three in the Great Midwest Conference and one in Conference-USA. Born and raised in St. Louis, Clarke grew up playing in the youth soccer leagues of St. Louis. He graduated to the playing fields of McBride and Normandy high schools before enrolling at Saint Louis University in 1972, where he graduated with a degree in marketing in 1976. With the Billikens, Clarke helped Saint Louis U. capture NCAA national championships in 1972 and 1973. A defender, he earned All-America honors in 1975. Clarke’s playing and academic careers were far from over after his collegiate days at Saint Louis. He went on to play for the St. Louis Stars and California Surf of the now-defunct NASL. Clarke earned his law degree at Pepperdine University while with the Surf.
A seven-year professional career came full circle when Clarke returned home to play for the St. Louis Steamers. Following his final pro season with the Steamers in 1982, Clarke was given the opportunity to coach at his alma mater following the retirement of hall-of-famer Harry Keough after the 1982 season.

Jimmy Connors
Camden Community College (NJ)
Head Coach

Connor was an all-conference, All-South Jersey and all-state player at Vineland High School before attending Illinois State University, where he played two seasons with the Redbirds. After transferring to Richard Stockton College, he earned First Team All-New Jersey Athletic Conference honors in both 1996 and 1997, while also being named First Team All-Region in 1996. Despite playing only two years with the Ospreys, Connor stands among the program’s career leaders with 40 goals (fourth) and 98 points (fourth). He also set single-season marks in 1997 with 25 goals and 60 points. 

 Connor has played professional soccer with the South Jersey Barons (1997-98), the Philadelphia KiXX (1997-2001), the Delaware Wizards (1999-2001), the Harrisburg Heat (2001-03) and the Reading Rage (2001-04).
Returning to Richard Stockton, Connor served five years as an assistant coach, beginning with the Ospreys’ national championship season in 2001. Connor received his B.A. in Sociology from Stockton in December, 2003. Connor, who lives in Washington Township with his wife, is a Special Education teacher at Bridgeton High School.

Ryan Lakin
Illinois Wesleyan
Head Coach

In 2011, Ryan Lakin began his seventh season as Illinois Wesleyan University’s men’s soccer coach. A three-time "Coach of the Year" in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin while at Millikin (1998, 1999, 2001), Lakin became IWU men’s soccer head coach in June 2005.

In seven seasons, Lakin’s Titan squads have compiled an overall record of 47-61-14 (.443 winning percentage) and have been 21-21-7 (.500) in CCIW action, including wins in 2007 and 2005 over nationally-ranked Wheaton.

Lakin has coached 23 Illinois Wesleyan players who have earned all-conference honors, nine who have garnered all-region honors and one Academic All-American (Ikenna Odinaka, second team in 2007).

A 1995 graduate of Illinois State University, Lakin was the men’s and women’s soccer coach at Millikin from 1998 to 2002. His men’s teams compiled a record of 54-29-3 (.645) in five seasons with a league co-championship in 2001.

His Big Blue women’s teams were 27-60-4 overall (.319) and 4-31 in the CCIW (.114) over the same period.

After playing soccer and basketball at St. Charles, Ill., High School, Lakin was a soccer letterman at Illinois State and earned "Most Improved Player" for the 1992 Redbirds team and was the 1993 team captain. He was chosen to the Missouri Valley Conference all-league and all-tournament squads. He was named to the all-Midwest region team.

He was an assistant coach for the Lincoln College men’s soccer team in 1994 and was director of coaching for the Bloomington-Normal Soccer Club from 1995 to 1998, when he started at Millikin.

Lakin was assistant director of coaching at Barrington (Ill.) Area Soccer Association and FC Barrington, where he was responsible for the operation and oversight of 2,000 recreational players, 35 travel teams and 15 staff coaches.

He is also part of the Olympic Development coaching staff and an instructor on the coaching education staff for the State of Illinois. With the Illinois Youth Soccer Association and FC Barrington, Lakin co-developed and co-instructed the first pilot program for the development of a recreational coaching license, which will eventually be implemented throughout the state, region and national levels.

Matt Edwards
Knox College
Head Coach

Matt Edwards was hired as the head men’s soccer coach at Knox College in February of 2012.  He most recently served as an assistant coach in 2011 at Amherst College in Massachusetts.  He was the associate head coach at Springfield College in Massachusetts for four years prior to joining the coaching staff at Amherst.
While at Springfield, Edwards helped lead the Pride to a 12-8-1 record and an appearance in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) semifinals in 2010.  Amherst also enjoyed success with Edwards on the coaching staff, compiling a 16-2-2 record.  The Lord Jeffs won the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) title and advanced to the NCAA Division III Sweet Sixteen.
Edwards – a native of Southampton, England – believes recruiting, which he was heavily involved in at Amherst, will be one of his strengths at Knox. Before coaching at Springfield, Edwards was an academy coach at the Southampton Football Club in England.