Veteran coach was the program's winningest coach with 222 wins in Amherst
Duo honored on Wednesday for excellence in the classroom and in sport.
UMass is 3-0-1 at home this season
By Jeff Thomas, Springfield Republican
Minutemen and Blue Hens face each other at 1 p.m.
The 2013 campaign marked the 23rd season for Sam Koch as the head coach of the UMass men's soccer program. The longtime, veteran leader is the most successful coach ever in program history. Under his guidance, the Minutemen have won four regular-season Atlantic 10 titles, two Atlantic 10 Tournament titles, made three NCAA Tournament appearances, and earned a spot in the 2007 NCAA National Semifinals. During his tenure in Amherst, the 29-year head coaching veteran has produced two All-Americans in Jeff Deren (2001-02) and Zack Simmons (2007), three Academic All-Americans, one Academic All-American of the Year, a two-time Atlantic 10 Offensive Player of the Year, an Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year, an Atlantic 10 Midfielder of the Year, two Atlantic 10 Rookies of the year, two Atlantic 10 Tournament MVPs, 27 All-Region selections, 62 All-Atlantic 10 players, 29 Academic All-Atlantic 10 honorees, two players to the Atlantic 10 All-Conference Teams, a two-time Atlantic 10 Scholar-Athlete of the Year, and 23 Atlantic 10 All-Tournament picks.
Not bad for the four-time Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year, who has crafted UMass into one of New England's top programs and has the Minutemen striving for national recognition. Koch has compiled a 222-182-45 (.545) overall record in Amherst, recording 13 winning seasons and four Atlantic 10 regular-season titles. Koch's squads produced five-straight winning seasons from 1999-2003, the most since UMass had six straight from 1969-74.
The highlight of the program under Koch's guidance has been the three NCAA Tournament appearances including the 2007 run that led to the NCAA College Cup. The Minutemen captured the nation's attention after winning the Atlantic 10 Tournament and then upsetting No. 1 seed Boston College in the NCAA Second Round. Koch first cemented himself as one of the great coaches in program history when he guided the Minutemen to the 2001 NCAA Tournament - the first NCAA tournament bid in UMass soccer history. In 2008, UMass again made history gaining the program's first-ever at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. All-told, the Minutemen are 5-3 in NCAA Tournament games with Koch at the helm.
The true measure of a coach, however, is not always in the wins and losses and the X's and O's, but rather the impact they have on their players lives. Former three-time captain and one of just two Atlantic 10 Tournament MVP's in program history J.R. Pouncey echoed that sentiment.
"Playing for Coach Koch and the UMass men's soccer team was the greatest experience of my life. Coach Koch is a great person and a great coach and it was an honor and privilege to play for him. I thank him for shaping me into the individual I am today. Getting an education and playing soccer at UMass was the greatest time of my life and I am grateful for the four years I had."
Over the past 13 seasons, Koch's teams have posted a 140-117-23 (.541) record, including a remarkable 70-47-10 (.591) conference mark. The Minutemen have been nearly unbeatable at home during that span, recording a 79-39-18 (.647) mark in Amherst.
The winningest men's soccer coach in UMass history with 222 total victories, Koch passed legendary coach Lawrence Briggs with his 124th win, a 3-2 victory over Towson in the opening game of the 2002 Navy Classic. He then picked up his 200th career win on Oct. 3, 2003, with a 3-0 victory over George Washington. The 2004 match at George Washington was also a historical moment for Koch as he notched his 150th win at UMass. George Washington gave Koch his 250th career win on Oct. 26, 2008 which earned him a congratulations card from former UMass basketball coach and current Kentucky bench boss John Calipari.
Koch's teams have recorded 13 10-win seasons under his guidance, while the program had only managed that feat three times in the school's history prior to his arrival.
In his 29 seasons as a head coach at UMass and Stanford, Koch sports a 280-235-64 (.540) mark, averaging nearly 10 wins per season. Following the 2013 season, he ranks 21st on the NCAA active coaches victory chart.
Koch surpassed the 200-win barrier with a 3-0 blanking of George Washington on Oct. 3, 2003, and picked up No. 225 on Sept. 10, 2006, with a 1-0 overtime win against St. Bonaventure.
For his success at UMass, Koch has four times been named the Atlantic 10 Conference Coach of the Year, claiming the honor first in 1992 when he also picked up New England Coach of the Year accolades. Koch again took the conference's top coaching honor in 1994 after leading the Minutemen to their first-ever Atlantic 10 regular-season title, and then again in 2002 and 2008. In 2007 and 2008, he was a finalist for the NSCAA/adidas National Coach of the Year after leading UMass to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time in program history.
He has guided UMass to 12 appearances in the A-10 postseason tournament, including six trips to the championship game (1992, 1994, 1995, 2001, 2007, 2008), and a pair of tournament titles in 2001 and 2007.
Koch's philosophy of teamwork and putting the good of the team over individual recognition has served his squads well over his career. In 29 seasons as a head coach, his teams have just twice had consecutive losing seasons and have won 10 or more games on 14 occasions.
In his time at UMass, Koch has had several memorable seasons.
The most memorable has been one of the most recent. Not only was the 2007 edition one of the most memorable in program history, but arguably in the entire history of the UMass athletics program.
Celebrating their 75th anniversary, the Minutemen overcame a tough 2-4 start to the season to win the Atlantic 10 Tournament and march through the NCAA Tournament all the way to the National Semifinals. The team made national headlines for it's amazing run.
UMass set a school record with 17 wins after earning an NCAA Tournament bid for just the second time in school history. To the surprise of Koch and his squad UMass was chosen to host the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Rudd Field. After defeating Boston University in the first round, UMass dispatched No. 1 Seed Boston College in Newton setting the stage for magic. Thousands packed Rudd Field to see UMass get wins over Central Connecticut and Illinois-Chicago en route to a first-ever College Cup berth.
For his efforts Koch was named an NSCAA Coach of the Year Finalist, while goalkeeper Zack Simmons was named a Third-Team All-American and UMBRO/Soccer News Net National Player of the Year. In the final poll of the season, UMass was ranked No. 4 in the nation - its highest ever ranking.
No longer a team to be overlooked, 2008 started similarly to 2007 with the Minutemen going 2-6-1 in non-conference play. Koch rallied the team after a loss to Rhode Island to start A-10 play and the Minutemen responded going 7-0-1 to win the league's regular-season title. Included in that stretch was a win over No. 10 Saint Louis and a defensive stand which allowed just four goals in eight games. In the A-10 Tournament, UMass defeated No. 17 Saint Louis again before falling in a tightly contested championship game to Dayton. For the first-time ever, UMass received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and was picked to host a first-round game. Nationally-ranked Harvard and UMass stood toe-to-toe, but it was the Crimson who advanced on a golden-goal in double overtime.
The Minutemen had a tremendous start to the 2006 season going 6-0-1 - the second-best start in school history - to earn a No. 22 national ranking. UMass hit a tough mid-season slump and were not able to recover, but did make a bit of history by pitching a school-record 10 shutouts and allowing just 19 goals.
In 2003, UMass stormed out of the gates with a remarkable 7-2-1 mark after 10 contests and the highest ranking in school history at No. 13.
The 2002 season started slowly, but the Minutemen hit their stride, winning their second A-10 regular-season title in three years, and sporting a school-record 12-game unbeaten streak in the process. UMass' 8-1-2 conference record was its best in school history. The Minutemen finished 12-6-2, their fourth straight season of 12-plus wins under Koch, which earned him A-10 Coach of the Year for the third time in his 12 years at the helm. That squad set a new single-season mark for goals scored with 55.
In 2001, Koch led the Minutemen to their first-ever NCAA Tournament berth after claiming the school's first Atlantic 10 Tournament title. For his accomplishments, Koch was honored by his peers as the 2001 NSCAA New England Coach of the Year.
The 2000 year brought Koch his second A-10 regular-season title with a 12-6 mark.
In 1999, Koch brought his program back from a 4-12-2 year in 1998 to an impressive 13-7 season and a spot in the A-10 Tournament for the fifth time in only his ninth season.
In 1996, the Minutemen collected eight shutout victories and allowed the fewest goals (17) since 1979.
The 1995 Minutemen, coming off the 1994 A-10 regular-season championship, tied a school record with 15 wins thanks to an explosive offensive attack that set a then-school record with 54 goals scored. All this despite losing one of the school's all-time leading scorers and not having a proven replacement to fill his shoes in what some had previously dubbed a "rebuilding year."
Before coming to UMass, Koch was the head coach at Stanford University from 1984-89. While in Palo Alto, he compiled a record of 58-53-16 (.520). In 1987, he was named Pacific Soccer Conference Coach of the Year by his peers.
Prior to his six seasons at Stanford, Koch was an assistant coach at Brown University and Boston College, as well as a staff instructor at the U.S. Soccer School. Since 1985, he has been a member of the Western Region Olympic Development coaching staff. Koch holds the United States Soccer Federation "A" License and the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Advanced National Diploma.
Koch was a four-year soccer letterwinner at Colby College where he earned a B.S. in History and Environmental Science in 1979.
Koch, 59, is a native of Concord, Mass., and resides in Hadley, Mass., with his wife, Suzanne, and his four children, Christopher (20), Jeffrey (17), Benjamin (16) and Katherine (14).
Koch Year-By-Year Coaching Record
* Denotes A-10 Regular-Season Championship.
Last updated, June 1, 2014