Former UMass men's soccer interim head coach Devin O'Neill, a West Springfield native, completed his third season as head coach of the Western New England University men’s soccer program in 2017.
The Golden Bears were again one of the top teams in the CCC last fall under O'Neill's leadership, as Western New England finished 12-7-1 overall and 6-2-1 in league play to earn the third seed in the CCC Tournament. Six student-athletes earned All-CCC honors, including Offensive Player of the Year Troy Remillard, who went on to become Western New England's fourth All-American in program history.
O’Neill led the Golden Bears back to the national stage during his second season in 2016, as Western New England earned a trip to the NCAA Division III Tournament for the ninth time in program history after claiming the team’s sixth CCC title and first since 2013.
Western New England, which earned the fourth seed in the 2016 CCC Tournament, defeated Roger Williams at home in the quarterfinals and came away with a thrilling penalty kick shootout victory at top-seeded Endicott in the semifinals before scoring four unanswered goals in the title-clinching triumph at Wentworth. In the NCAA Tournament matchup against Brandeis, the Golden Bears equalized in the 87th minute before falling in overtime to the Judges, who would go on to reach the national semifinals.
Four of O’Neill’s student-athletes earned All-CCC honors in 2016, highlighted by first team selection Troy Remillard, who led the conference with 17 goals. Seniors Kevin Strobel and Brandon Bolger and junior Logan Pingree were also recognized.
O’Neill led the Golden Bears to a successful 2015 campaign during his first season in charge, as the team went 8-1 in Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) action on its way to the second seed in the CCC Tournament. Western New England reached the CCC semifinals for the first time since 2013 and earned a bid to the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) New England Tournament.
Five of O’Neill’s student-athletes garnered All-CCC recognition at the conclusion of the season, including senior defender Colin Macdonald, who was also named an ECAC Division III New England All-Star.
O’Neill was named head coach at Western New England on March 5, 2015. He came to Springfield after serving on the Minutemen's coaching staff from 2012-14, including as interim head coach in 2014 and as an assistant during the 2012 and '13 seasons under the late Sam Koch.
"I am so excited to be the next men’s soccer Coach at Western New England," O'Neill, who will begin his duties on Monday the 9th, said. "I feel very fortunate for this opportunity and want to thank Dr. Theulen, (Senior Associate Director of Athletics) Joe Sassi, (Assistant Athletic Director/Business Manager) Jody Lemoi and the entire search committee for selecting me. During the search process, I was so impressed with the positive energy in the department and I look forward to working closely with my new colleagues.
"We will evaluate our progress in three areas including academic achievement, strong citizenship including impacting our local community, and athletic success. The Commonwealth Coast Conference is outstanding in the sport of men’s soccer and will provide a great challenge as we pursue future CCC championships.
"I am excited to meet the entire team and begin our work together in the non-traditional season. I also am looking forward to continuing the recruiting efforts begun by coaches Sullivan and Tim Larocca (an assistant who served as the head coach on an interim basis during the search process) as we look to secure the recruiting class of 2015," said O'Neill.
O'Neill, who will be entering his 22nd year as a college coach in 2015 with the Golden Bears, has a 95-104-22 NCAA head coaching record over 12 seasons that includes previous stops at Division I East Carolina University (1999-2002) and Division III Gettysburg College (2003-09).
"We are extremely pleased to have Devin joining our Athletic Family," stated Theulen, who noted he received 120 applications. "His coaching resume speaks for itself. We were all very impressed by his background, his knowledge, and, in particular, his energy. Devin will be a great fit as we transition into a new era of Western New England University Men's Soccer."
O'Neill, 45, graduated from Middlebury College in 1991 and received his master's degree from Springfield College in 1993.
He came to UMass following a two-year stint at Bradley University in which the Braves participated in the NCAA Tournament each season. At Bradley, O'Neill helped the D-I Braves to a pair of NCAA appearances in 2010 and 2011, marking the first time in the program's history to make back-to-back trips to the national tournament. In his two seasons in Peoria, the Braves posted a 26-15-5 record with 15 wins in 2011 for the second-most wins in program history.
O'Neill returned to his home state of Massachusetts after spending time in the collegiate ranks as both a head coach and an assistant coach. Prior to joining Bradley as an assistant coach in 2010, O'Neill was the head coach at Gettysburg for seven seasons and at East Carolina for four more. He started his coaching career in 1994 at Lafayette College before moving on to Fresno State (1996-97) and Ohio State (1997-99).
At Gettysburg, he compiled a 68-46-18 overall record, including a 38-25-8 mark, and two runner-up finishes in the highly-competitive Centennial Conference. He coached 27 all-conference and nine NSCAA All-East Region players during his Bullets tenure. In his final three years with the ECU Pirates, O'Neill led the team to its best three-year winning percentage in the program's history and produced ECU's first-ever Major League Soccer and US National Team player in Clyde Simms.
As an assistant coach at Lafayette, O'Neill helped the Leopards to consecutive Patriot League titles in 1994 and 1995. He then moved on to Fresno State where the Bulldogs won the Western Athletic Conference crown and reached the NCAA Quarterfinals in 1996. Before beginning his head coaching career, O'Neill also spent two years as an assistant at Ohio State from 1997-98 and helped the Buckeyes to a runner-up finish in the 1998 Big Ten Conference Tournament.
A three-sport athlete at Middlebury, O'Neill captained both the soccer and ski teams and also played golf. He earned NSCAA All-New England Region honors on the soccer pitch as a senior in 1990 and he was a two-time (1989-90) All-American skier.
O'Neill replaces Erin Sullivan who resigned in January to take the men's soccer post at Williams College, his alma mater. "Erin Sullivan did a wonderful job during his tenure as head coach and he has left the program in great shape. I will work hard to build upon his excellent work and strive to continue the program’s record of success."
The Golden Bears' storied program has produced an all-time record of 473-359-75 (.563) since its founding in 1966, six Commonwealth Coast Conference championships since entering the league in 2007, nine NCAA Division III tournament appearances, four Division III All-America citations from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, and 28 trips to postseason play.
O'Neill and his wife, Mimi, are the proud parents of three children: daughter Brooke (16) and sons Sean (14), Shay (10). The family makes their home in Belchertown.
|2015||11||9||0||.550||8-1/2nd||5 All-CCC Selections, ECAC Appearance|
|2016||11||10||1||.523||6-3/4th||CCC Champions, NCAA Tournament, 4 All-CCC Selections|
|2017||12||7||1||.625||6-2-1/3rd||6 All-CCC selections|
|Totals||34||26||2||.565||20-6-1 (.760)||1 CCC Title, 1 NCAA Tournament Appearance, 15 All-CCC Selections|