Michael O’Neill named head coach of NIU women’s soccer

DEKALB, Ill. – Michael O’Neill has been selected as the new head coach of the Northern Illinois University women’s soccer program, vice president and director of athletics for NIU Sean T. Frazier announced Monday, March 14. O’Neill joins the Huskies as the sixth head coach in program history after leading Saginaw Valley State for the past eight years, guiding the Cardinals to the NCAA Tournament three times.

“I’m very excited to have Michael O’Neill join the Huskie family as our next women’s soccer head coach,” said Frazier. “Hiring an experienced head coach with a history of league success was important to us in this process. Michael has proven his ability to build a program that has achieved a high standard both sportingly and academically. , and he is the right person for NIU I would also like to thank (Senior Associate Athletic Director) Courtney Vinson for his hard work in directing our research.”

During his tenure at Saginaw Valley State, the O’Neill Cardinals won 77 games and he mentored 35 All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) selections.

“I am extremely excited to join the NIU women’s soccer program,” said O’Neill. “As soon as the administration reached out and expressed interest in me, it was something that I knew would be perfect for me and my family. I’m excited and under no illusions that It’s going to take a lot of hard work, but I’m grateful for this opportunity and grateful to Sean (Frazier) and Courtney (Vinson) for trusting me to lead this program.”

Last season, O’Neill led the Cardinals to a school-best 14 wins as they qualified for the first time in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Division II tournament, before falling to eventual national champion Grand Valley. State. O’Neill mentored six All-GLIAC winners in the 2021 campaign, including Stephanie Strong, who scored a program-record 14 goals, and Olivia Argeros, who posted a school-record 13 shutouts.

Saginaw Valley State has won double-digit games in six of O’Neill’s eight seasons, including his freshman year in 2014 when the Cardinals reached the NCAA Tournament for only the second time in franchise history. school. After inheriting a program that was under .500 the season before he arrived, O’Neill guided Saginaw Valley to an 11-4-3 mark in his first season, winning the program’s first NCAA Tournament game then. that they beat Ohio Dominican in the first round. Four Cardinals earned all-conference honors, including GLIAC Goaltender of the Year Claire Spleth.

O’Neill and the Cardinals won 10 games in the 2016 and 2017 seasons, reaching the GLIAC Tournament Finals in 2017. Saginaw Valley State returned to the NCAA Tournament in the 2018 season as the Cardinals posted a record of 12-4-4. Four players earned All-Conference honors in the 2018 campaign, including Molly Vanderhoff, who was also named All-American Scholar United Soccer Coaches.

The Cardinals won 12 games in the 2019 campaign, finishing second in the regular season in the GLIAC. During his eight seasons in Saginaw Valley, O’Neill led the Cardinals to four top-three conference finishes.

Prior to taking charge of the Saginaw Valley State women’s soccer program, O’Neill spent two seasons (2012-2013) as an assistant coach with the Cardinal men’s soccer program. In 2012, O’Neill helped the Saginaw Valley State men to an 18-win season by capturing the GLIAC title and advancing to the NCAA Division II National Championship game for the first time. of the program’s history. Seven players have earned All-GLIAC honors, with Zach Myers and Jason Wise becoming the first two players in school history to earn All-America recognition. Myers was the 2012 National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NCSAA) Division II National Player of the Year and also earned Academic All-America honors.

In addition to his stint at Saginaw Valley State, O’Neill also served as an assistant coach for the Flint City Bucks in USL League Two during the summer of 2021.

As a player, O’Neill ranks third in career assists at Tiffin University, having played for the Dragons from 2008-2011, helping the school to three GLIAC Tournament titles (2008, ’09, ’11). Originally from Luton, England, O’Neill received his bachelor’s degree from Tiffin University in Sports and Leisure Management in 2012.

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