Coach Jones on Camps: “The Loyola Soccer Camps are a vital part of our recruiting process. Our camp programs allow each player to come and experience Loyola University Chicago, and get a feel for the Men’s Soccer program in it’s entirety. We put the players through sessions that mimic the level of college soccer, and give them the opportunity to experience a high intensity soccer environment in which we hope they thrive. For myself and our staff, it also gives us an opportunity to explore each players’ personality and character, which are often as important as a players soccer ability. A number of our current players have been through the Loyola Camp program, and we want to continue to find future Ramblers through these camps.”
Neil Jones, who spent three seasons as the associate head coach at Northwestern University, is set to begin his fifth season as the head coach of the Loyola University Chicago men’s soccer program. Jones was named to his current position on December 20, 2012. In addition to helping the Wildcats to back-to-back Big Ten Conference titles and NCAA Tournament appearances during his stay in Evanston, Ill., the Auckland, New Zealand native helped UC Santa Barbara to the 2006 national championship as an assistant coach for the Gauchos.
Jones led the Maroon & Gold on a historic run during his fourth season at the head of the Loyola bench. The Ramblers closed the year with a final record of 14-4-1, setting a single-season school record for wins, en route to winning their first NCAA Tournament game in program history and securing the University’s first Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title in any sport. Loyola completed its third consecutive unbeaten season at home, going a perfect 9-0-0 in games played at Loyola Soccer Park. Jones helped guide 10 student-athletes to All-Missouri Valley Conference honors, with five going on to receive All-West Region accolades from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA). Highlighting that group was midfielder/defender Grant Stoneman, who went on to become the second student-athlete in program history to be selected as an NSCAA All-American. Jones’ team also continued its strong work in the classroom, earning the NSCAA’s Team Academic Award for a sixth consecutive season, with three Ramblers also landing on the Valley’s Scholar-Athlete Team for men’s soccer. On the individual front, goalkeeper Andrew Chekadanov became the second Rambler in as many seasons to be selected as a Scholar All-American by the NSCAA, while midfielder/defender Kirill Likhovid earned Academic All-District accolades from the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).
A 2004 graduate of UC Santa Barbara, Jones also owns a master’s degree from UCSB. He holds an “A” license from the United State Soccer Federation (USSF).
Pat Flinn is set to begin his first season with the Loyola University Chicago men’s soccer program in 2017. Flinn arrives in Rogers Park following a three-year stint at the University of Chicago in Hyde Park. The Roswell, Ga. native presided over a record-setting stretch for the Maroons that saw the team make three straight appearances in the NCAA Division III Men’s Soccer Tournament.
Flinn played collegiately at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pa. from 2004-07. Flinn, who earned the captain’s armband during his senior season, was a member of a pair of Atlantic 10 Conference championship sides during his time with Dukes.
Flinn earned his Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Duquesne in 2008.
Michael Mauro is set to begin his second season on the coaching staff at Loyola University Chicago in 2017. Mauro joins the Maroon & Gold after a two-year stint at Colgate University. In 2015, the Bristol, Conn. native helped lead the Raiders to a 10-7-2 overall record that included a 7-2-0 mark in conference play en route to claiming the school’s first Patriot League regular season crown since 2010. He aided in the development of seven All-Patriot League selections and a pair of All-Academic honorees during his time in the Empire State.
After spending one season at the Air Force Academy, Mauro transferred to a tradition-laden Louisville program. He was a member of the Cardinals’ 2010 NCAA College Cup Runner-up team before taking over the reigns of the starting goalkeeper role in 2012. Mauro started in 15 games that season, racking up 11 victories and six clean sheets as Louisville advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament.
Mauro earned his Bachelor’s degree in Sport Administration from Louisville in 2013.
Barry Bimbi will enter his seventh year as the women’s soccer head coach at Loyola University Chicago in 2017, and has the Ramblers poised to become a contending team in the Missouri Valley Conference.
In 2016, Loyola finished the year with a record of 5-11-3 and 2-4-0 in Missouri Valley Conference play. The sixth-seeded Ramblers pulled an opening-round upset in the Missouri Valley Conference Women’s Soccer Championship as they downed third-seeded Northern Iowa, 1-0, before bowing out of the league tournament to Evansville in a penalty shootout for the second time in as many seasons. Shelby Koch, Jenna Szczesny and Sienna Cruz all earned Second Team All-MVC accolades, with Cruz also being tabbed as a member of the Valley’s All-Freshman Team. For the seventh time in as many seasons, Loyola was honored by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) with the organization’s College Team Academic Award for its work and dedication in the classroom.
A native of Pittsburgh, Pa., Bimbi spent four seasons (2007-2010) as an assistant women’s soccer coach at the University of Pittsburgh, where he served as the program’s recruiting coordinator and was in charge of player development. In each of his last seasons there, the Panthers developed an All-Big East Rookie Team player, marking the only two occasions in program history that accomplishment has occurred.
Bimbi began his coaching career at his alma mater, spending six seasons at Saint Francis (Pa.), as an assistant on the men’s staff. There, he helped lead the Red Flash to the program’s first-ever back-to-back winning records in Northeast Conference play and aided in the recruitment of four academic All-Americans.
Bimbi has also coached several Olympic Development teams and earned his USSF “A” license in 2005.
A 1994 graduate of Saint Francis (Pa.), Bimbi earned four All-Northeast Conference honors as a player, including first team recognition as a junior. He led the conference in scoring as a freshman and was a three-time team captain. In February, 2011 Bimbi was inducted into the Saint Francis (Pa.) Athletics Hall of Fame.
Bimbi and his wife, Melissa, are the proud parents of a son, Amedeo, and daughter, Lena.
Franky Pelaez is set to begin his third season on the Loyola University Chicago women’s soccer coaching staff. A native of Cartagena, Colombia, Pelaez serves as an assistant coach. Pelaez joined the Ramblers after a successful stay at Marquette. During his 19-year stint in Milwaukee, Wis., he helped guide the Golden Eagles to a 282-104-39 record, highlighted by nine regular season conference championships, including five BIG EAST titles, two BIG EAST Tournament Championships and a pair of Conference USA Tournament titles. Marquette racked up 19 consecutive 10-win seasons with 11 seasons of 15 or more wins as it appeared in the NCAA Tournament 12 times during Pelaez’s stay at the school. He also directly assisted in the development of 113 all-conference, 63 all-region and 12 All-America selections.
Prior to arriving at Marquette, Pelaez spent four years as the head boys’ and girls’ soccer coach at A.C. Reynolds High School in Asheville, N.C. During his four seasons at the helm, Pelaez compiled an 88-21-6 overall record, earning Western Carolina Coach of the Year honors for both boys and girls following the 1995 and 1996 seasons. He was also tabbed as the Boys’ Coach of the Year in 1993. Under Pelaez’s guidance, both sides captured their first conference titles in school history while also qualifying for the state quarterfinals on three separate occasions as well.
Pelaez played collegiate soccer at UNC Asheville, serving as the Bulldogs’ captain as a senior. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Visual Arts from the school in 1992.
Pelaez married the former Melissa Moffatt in July of 2008. The couple has two children, Gabriella and Leela.
Katie Berkopec is set to begin her first season as a member of the coaching staff with the Loyola University Chicago women’s soccer team. Berkopec, a native of Apple Valley, Minn., will serve as an assistant coach and will work with the team’s goalkeepers.
Berkopec arrives in Rogers Park following a two-year stint at Winona State as a graduate assistant coach. In 2015, she was part of a staff that helped guide the Warriors to a third consecutive appearance in the NCAA Central Region Tournament. Berkopec assisted in the development of goalkeeper Rachel Oleson, who posted 11 shutouts and sported a 0.69 goals against average that ranked 26th nationally in 2015.
Berkopec earned her Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education from UW-Oshkosh in 2015 before earning a Master’s degree in Education Leadership at Winona State.