HIGH POINT, N.C. – Leading their team to its first appearance in the NCAA Championship Tournament in 2018, High Point University men’s soccer received South Region Staff of the Year recognition from the United Soccer Coaches organization this Friday.
“To be recognized by your coaching peers is a tremendous honor.” said Head Coach EJ O’Keeffe. “We had twelve teams out of our region play in the NCAA tournament, so to be recognized is extremely humbling. Our student-athletes drive this program forward. They make it enjoyable to show up to work every day to push them and the program forward. This recognition is a reflection of the great support staff we have in our athletic department. I can’t thank them enough for everything they do for myself, our coaching staff and our players.”
Each year, eight Division I coaching staffs from around the country are selected as the top coaching staff in each of their individual regions. Staffs are voted on by a group of their peers within the college soccer coaching community, selecting those that best exemplify the qualities expected to build and maintain a successful program. This is the first time that High Point has received the South Region Staff of the Year honor, getting selected over coaching contingencies from the likes of No. 2 Wake Forest, No. 5 Louisville and No. 6 North Carolina.
This year’s staff was led by Head Coach O’Keeffe, directing the Panthers for his fourth season, while completing his ninth year with the club overall. He’s joined by fifth-year Assistant Coach Josh Gillon, second-year Assistant Coach Travis Morris and first-year Assistant Coach Erik Casterline.
The current High Point staff brought their side to new levels in 2018, bringing the Panthers to their first-ever NCAA Championship Tournament, and collecting their second straight Big South regular season title. The 2018 Panthers’ regular season win percentage (.844) is the highest in the program’s Division I history, while their No. 12 national ranking earlier in the season is the highest any team in High Point history has achieved.
With seven starters and over 90 percent of their point production likely returning for 2019, the Panthers looked poised to continue making history in the proceeding years under O’Keeffe and company. With 42 wins over four years Coach O’Keeffe’s .656 winning percentage is the highest of any HPU men’s soccer coach in DI history, as he is just six victories away from surpassing Peter Broadley for the second-most wins in the Panther Division I era.