Head Coach Noreen Herlihy is entering her 20th season as the Slippery Rock University women’s soccer head coach with a chance to become only the 11th coach in women’s Division II soccer history to record 250 wins. She is leading a young soccer team, and hoping that they mirror the same success they experienced last season as Atlantic Region Champions.
Herlihy is looking to lead this team to a 19th consecutive winning season. The first year that she took over was the year that women’s soccer at SRU became a varsity sport. She was given the task of rebuilding a program that had not seen much success. SRU finished with a 5-13 record in Herlihy’s first year as head coach in 1995, and they haven’t had a losing record since.
Success is not a new thing to Herlihy, as she has been experiencing that all her life. She played on Ireland’s national soccer team from 1985-1988, where she played against the likes of England, Scotland, Holland and Sweden. She also has a pair of All-American honors to add to that list from her time at Mercyhurst University.
As an assistant coach at Mercyhurst in 1993 and 1994 she helped lead them to a pair of Division II final four appearances before taking over the rebuilding process at the Rock.
She wasted no time in this rebuilding project leading the Green and White to a 14-5 record in her second season in 1996, which led to a Pennsylvania State Athletics Conference (PSAC) “Coach of the Year” award.
Because of that success, Herlihy was asked to help rebuild the men’s soccer program in 1997. She served as a dual-team head coach for the next four years before going back to coaching only women’s soccer in 2001. She was the first woman to become head coach of the men’s program, and in her first season there, she led them to a 10-8 record, doubling their win total from the year prior.
The Rock began their postseason success in 2000 with their first appearance in the PSAC playoffs. Since then, the results have been spectacular, with the team averaging 13.6 wins per season since 2001. To go along with those wins per year the team has made ten appearances in the PSAC playoffs, nine trips to the NCAA tournament, has earned three PSAC regular season titles and two PSAC tournament championships.
“I’m proud, and I feel like it’s a wonderful thing to have stability for a program,” Herlihy said. “I’ve had great help over the years, and great student athletes who take pride in wearing the jersey for this university.”
When asked about her possibility of entering the 250 win club she gave all the credit to the team, saying that that win total does not drive her.
The real drive and enjoyment she gets is from seeing the team do well. Junior midfielder Crysta Ganter said that while Herlihy is a professional head coach, she does have a fun side as well.
“It’s been a very good experience so far,” Ganter said. “she’s very serious when it comes to playing, but jokes around at practices and makes sure we laugh every day.”
Herlihy is looking to continue the streak of winning seasons, starting with the team’s first game on Sep. 4 against Millersville University.