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, enters his seventh season as the head coach of the Loyola University Chicago men’s soccer program in 2019. 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.
Under Jones’ tutelage, the 2018 Ramblers won 10 matches to mark the third time in the last four years Jones’ squad cracked double-digits in the win column. The Ramblers finished as the No. 2 seed in the MVC Tournament to mark the second highest regular season finish in Jones’ tenure. Due to the success on the field, many of his players were recognized as All-MVC selections, such as Grant Stoneman and Josh Lagudah taking home Defensive Player of the Year and Goalkeeper of the Year respectively. His group of student-athletes continued the track record of exceptional work in the classroom, highlighted by the United Soccer Coaches Team Academic Award, as well as Marius Kullmann taking home numerous academic honors.
Loyola battled its way to a 7-8-3 record in 2017, Jones’ fifth year in Rogers Park. The Maroon & Gold recorded impressive road wins over Xavier and Missouri Valley Conference regular-season champion Missouri State. Five Ramblers earned All-Missouri Valley Conference accolades, a quintet that was highlighted by the First Team trio of Elliot Collier, Kyle Thomson and Grant Stoneman. Collier went on to become the first Rambler in program history to be selected in the Major League Soccer (MLS) SuperDraft after being taken in the third round by the Chicago Fire. Jones’ group also continued to excel off the field, collecting the United Soccer Coaches Team Academic Award for a seventh-straight season.
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 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).
In Jones’ third year in charge in 2015, Loyola finished the season with an impressive 10-4-5 mark, recording the program’s first 10-win campaign since 2008. For a second consecutive season, Jones’ team recorded an undefeated mark at home, going 5-0-2 in contests played within the friendly confines of Loyola Soccer Park. The duo of First Team All-Missouri Valley Conference selections Eric Schoendorf and Tim Dobrowolski helped Loyola post a sparkling 0.39 goals against average that led the nation. Schoendorf became the first player in league history to take home both Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors from the Valley, while Dobrowolski was named the league’s Goalkeeper of the Year for a second-straight season. Both went on to be tabbed as All-West Region honorees by the NSCAA, where they were joined by Daniel Hare and Kyle Thomson. Loyola also continued its strong work in the classroom. Schoendorf became the first student-athlete in program history to be named an Academic All-American by the NSCAA and joined Hare on the Valley’s Scholar-Athlete Team for men’s soccer for a second consecutive season. The Maroon & Gold also went on to pick up their fifth-straight NSCAA Team Academic Award.
Jones’ second season in Rogers Park proved to be highly successful as he led the Maroon & Gold to its first winning record since the 2008 season. Jones and his coaching staff were recognized as the Missouri Valley Conference’s Coaching Staff of the Year following a breakout 8-6-5 campaign, while Tim Dobrowolski and Eric Schoendorf were tabbed as First Team All-Valley selections and NSCAA/Continental Tire All-West Region honorees. The season was highlighted by thrilling overtime victories against conference rival Bradley and No. 20 Northwestern, the Ramblers’ first win over their neighbors from Evanston, Ill. in over a decade, as well as the program’s first-ever victory in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, a 3-1 triumph over Drake. The team also received recognition for its strong work in the classroom. Hare and Schoendorf both earned spots on the Valley’s Scholar-Athlete Team for Men’s Soccer, while the team was recognized with the NSCAA’s Team Academic Award for the fourth consecutive year.
Jones helped guide the Ramblers to a fifth-place finish and a berth in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament during his first season as the bench boss in Rogers Park. The team finished with a final mark of 6-11-2 but were able to collect victories in its final two conference contests to finish the season on an upswing. The 2013 campaign also saw Brian Bement and Ryan Howe receive All-Missouri Valley Conference accolades. Bement became the focal point of Jones’ attack, netting a team-high eight goals, while Howe was a fixture in the Rambler lineup, starting in 16 of the 17 games that he saw action in.
A 2004 graduate of UC Santa Barbara, Jones also owns a master’s degree from UCSB. He holds an “A” license from the United States Soccer Federation (USSF).
Pat Flinn will enter his third season as an assistant coach with the Loyola University Chicago men’s soccer program in 2019. Flinn, who also serves as the team’s recruiting coordinator, arrived in Rogers Park following a three-year stint at the University of Chicago in Hyde Park.
Flinn comes to Loyola following a three-year stay at the University of Chicago in Hyde Park as an assistant coach. 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.
In 2016, the University of Chicago put together a Banner season that saw the program set new records in a handful of categories including wins (17), shutouts (15) goals against average (0.39) and points (156). The Maroons finished the year at 17-1-2 and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament as Flinn and the rest of the staff were honored as the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s (NSCAA) Central Region Coaching Staff of the Year to go along with University Athletic Association Coaching Staff of the Year honors.
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.
The Loyola University Chicago men’s soccer program announced Ricardo Pinto to the coaching staff for the 2019 season. Pinto most recently served as the assistant coach at University of North Carolina-Wilmington. He will work primarily with the Rambler goalkeepers.
“Our entire program is excited to welcome Coach Ricardo Pinto to Loyola. Ricardo comes highly regarded, and from a very successful program at UNC-Wilmington,” head coach Neil Jones said. “After meeting with him on campus, and speaking to many of his former colleagues, we knew that he would be a great fit for the Men’s Soccer program. Ricardo will hit the ground running with recruiting, training, as well as alumni and community relations, and our summer camp programs. We’re very happy to welcome him on board.”
Pinto is fresh off a one-year stint with a Seahawks team that qualified for the 2018 NCAA Tournament with a 12-5-3 record. Under his guidance, UNCW finished 18th nationally in team goals against per game and 19th nationally in team save percentage. Pinto also coached goalkeeper Ryan Cretens to a Second Team All-CAA honor.
A 2016 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Pinto’s first job out of college was spending the 2017 season at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida. He helped the Hatters post a 7-7-2 record and capture the Atlantic Sun Conference regular season championship. He coached the conference’s Goalkeeper of the Year in Joseph Melong and A-Sun Freshman of the Year Deniz Dogan as the Hatters finished conference play unbeaten at a 4-0-2 clip.
Pinto was also a member of the coaching staff at GPS Florida, serving as the Director of Goalkeeping while acting as the head coach for the U-12 GPS Florida Select I team.
Prior to his arrival at Stetson, Pinto served as an assistant coach at Iowa Lakes Community College. The program registered a 14-5-0 record and earned a No. 15 national ranking with him on staff.
A native of Beaverton, Oregon, Pinto earned his ‘D’ license from the United States Soccer Federation in December of 2017. That same year, he earned his Master’s Degree from the University of South North Dakota in Sport Management.
“I’m extremely humbled to receive this opportunity here at Loyola University Chicago,” Pinto said. “I’d like to thank Coach Jones for allowing me the chance to work alongside Coach Flinn and Coach Barnes. The moment that I stepped on campus and met all the players I knew that this was the place where I wanted to be. I’m excited to continue to build upon the success that Coach Mauro achieved before me.”
Jones and his staff return 19 letterwinners, including three goalkeepers from last year’s squad that went 10-7-2 and finished as the Missouri Valley Conference runner-up
Barry Bimbi will enter his eighth year as the women’s soccer head coach at Loyola University Chicago in 2018, and has the Ramblers poised to become a contending team in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Bimbi oversaw one of the nation’s top offenses in 2017 as the Ramblers closed the season with a 13-7-0 record and finished third in the Missouri Valley Conference, going 4-2-0 in league play. Led by United Soccer Coaches Third Team All-Midwest Region honoree Jenna Szczesny, who was also one of five Ramblers to earn All-MVC accolades, the Maroon & Gold finished second nationally in goals scored, finding the back of the net an astonishing 61 times as they easily shattered the previous school record in the category. Bimbi’s team picked up a pair of impressive road wins over power five conference opponents in Iowa and Kentucky, before downing Valparaiso by a final count of 2-1 to earn a fourth consecutive trip to the semifinals of the MVC Women’s Soccer Championship. Loyola also continued its run of impressive work away from the field, earning the United Soccer Coaches Team Academic Award for an eighth-straight season.
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 fourth season on the Loyola University Chicago women’s soccer coaching staff. A native of Cartagena, Colombia, Pelaez is entering his first year as the team’s associate head coach after spending his first three seasons in Rogers Park 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 second season as a member of the coaching staff with the Loyola University Chicago women’s soccer team. Berkopec, a native of Apple Valley, Minn., serves as an assistant coach and works 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.