BANNER ELK, N.C. - Lees-McRae College Athletic Director, Craig McPhail, has announced that former Slippery Rock coach, Matt Thompson, has been named to take the helm of the Bobcats men's soccer program which is currently ranked No. 2 in the NCAA after falling in the championship game in 2009.
"We conducted a national search, made many phone calls, and brought several coaches to our campus and everything led us to Coach Thompson," McPhail said. "His abilities to teach, recruit, retain and develop student-athletes at a national level is what we were looking for in our men's soccer coach search."
"I am excited to be given the opportunity to coach at Lees-McRae in an already prestigious program," Thompson said. "It is going to be a challenge to fill the void Coach Whalley has left, but I am confident I can come in and have a positive influence on the players. The foundations are set to challenge for conference and national honors again this coming year."
"I have a fantastic assistant coach in Jay Benfield, a former goalkeeper at UNC-Greensboro, who knows the players and the program," Thompson said. "It will make the transition easier both for myself and the players. We already have a high caliber of players, but I hope to add a couple of fresh faces into the mix for the fall of 2010."
Thompson led Slippery Rock to an 18-4-1 record, a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Championship and an appearance in the Sweet Sixteen in 2009, it was the team's third NCAA appearance after making it in 2008 and 2005. In 2008, Thompson led his team to a 14-7-1, and in 2005, his team captured the PSAC title with a 12-8-2 record.
In eight seasons at Slippery Rock, Thompson compiled a 84-67-11 record which is a .552 winning percentage. In the past six season at The Rock, Thompson's team turned in six consecutive winning seasons and his 2009 team snapped the schools single-season win mark with 18 wins.
"What he accomplished at Slippery Rock is amazing, and I feel
very confident he will be able to continue our proud tradition of
men's soccer here at Lees-McRae as he becomes part of the Bobcat
family," McPhail said.
Prior to coaching at Slippery Rock Thompson was an assistant coach at Division I Robert Morris for three seasons.
As a player, Thompson earned two All-PSAC Conference Honors and three Western Pennsylvania All-Star honors while at Slippery Rock. He was the team's MVP in 1997, earned four varsity letters and was named team captain for two seasons.
Thompson and his wife, Danielle, have two sons, Liam, who is seven, and Joshua, who is two.
"My wife fell in love with the area on a recent visit, and the move will be great for our family," Thompson said. We are looking forward to living in the community and getting to know community in Banner Elk, who I hope will continue to support the men's soccer program at Lees-McRae."