Photo and story courtesy of Princeton Athletic Communications
PRINCETON, N.J. -- Julie Shackford, one of the greatest coaches in the history of Ivy League women’s athletics, has announced that the 2014 season will be her final one as the head coach of the Princeton women’s soccer team.
“It has been my great honor to coach Princeton women’s soccer for the last 20 years,” Shackford said. “I’m very proud of our record on the field, but more than that, I have been extremely lucky to have the opportunity to coach such great young women, see how they’ve grown together and maintain strong relationships with them for years after they graduate. I wanted to make the announcement now so that we can move forward and focus on the upcoming season, which we are all very excited about.”
Shackford, who will be leaving Princeton at the conclusion of her 20th season, took her team to the 2004 NCAA College Cup Final Four, something unmatched in Ivy League women’s soccer history. She is also one of two Ivy League women’s soccer coaches to put together two perfect 7-0-0 league seasons.
Her legacy includes six Ivy League championships, eight NCAA tournament appearances (the most by an Ivy women’s soccer coach), a national Division I Coach of the Year Award, three regional Coach of the Year honors and the distinction of having won more games coaching soccer at Princeton than any coach with either the men’s or women’s program.
In addition, every single player to play for Shackford at Princeton has graduated (or, in the case of the current players, is on pace to graduate).
“As an alum of the women’s soccer program, I can fully appreciate the incredible job that Julie Shackford has done here for the last 20 years,” Princeton’s Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux said. “She has worked tirelessly to build the women’s soccer program to national prominence, and she has also been an outstanding role model for her players. On behalf of all of Princeton, I would like to thank her for everything she’s done here. At the same time, I would also like to say that we are fully committed to identifying the best possible successor to build on what Julie has accomplished and to continue to provide our women’s soccer players with a great experience here.”
Shackford’s record is 196-109-26 through her first 19 years at Princeton. She will enter her final season four wins shy of the 200-win mark.
A three-time All-America at William & Mary and three-time Olympic Festival participant as a player, Shackford started the program at Carnegie Mellon in 1991 and went 42-21-4 in four seasons while also earning a master’s degree in public management before coming to Princeton in 1995.
She inherited a team that had had four straight non-winning seasons and had only won one previous Ivy League championship, back in 1982.
She then built the program to have 16 winning records in her first 19 seasons. She has coached 37 first-team All-Ivy League selections and the Ivy League Player of the Year five times.
“It's impossible to express the profound impact Shacks has made on the Princeton soccer program,” said Emily Behncke, the 2005 Ivy League Player of the Year. “Taking nothing away from the Ivy League championships, NCAA appearances, and magical Final Four run of 2004, her impact goes far beyond the soccer field. Shacks cares deeply about each of her players and, more than anything, is driven to help them achieve their full potential. She is an honest coach who never backs out of a tough conversation in order to help a player realize that potential. I still find myself guided by her advice today. She has amassed many impressive accolades during her coaching career, but I find her lasting legacy to be how she helped everyone one of us identify and strive to realize our full potential."
Shackford won her first NCAA tournament game – and the second for the program and first since 1982 – in 2001 with a 3-1 win over Loyola (Md.).
It was three years later, in 2004, that Princeton had the best
season in Ivy women’s soccer history. The Tigers went 19-3-0,
7-0-0 in the league, and then defeated Central Connecticut,
Villanova, Boston College and Washington to reach the national
semifinals before falling to UCLA.
Her second perfect league season was in 2012, when Princeton also won an NCAA tournament game on the road for the first time in program history.
Shackford is a member of the William & Mary athletic Hall of Fame and the Virginia/DC Soccer Hall of Fame. She has also worked with the U.S. national team program, served as an ODP coach, been honored by the New Jersey officials’ organization and has been extremely active in the local Central Jersey youth soccer culture. She holds an A coaching license from U.S. Soccer and has taught NSCAA courses at the state level.
“I have had a great 20 years at Princeton,” Shackford said. “My children [13-year-old Kayleigh and 11-year-old twins Keegan and Cameron] have basically grown up on this campus and around the program. I couldn’t have had better role models for them than the women who have come through the program. I will miss Princeton terribly, but I am excited about the next chapter in my life. I do want to thank [former Director of Athletics] Gary Walters for giving me this amazing opportunity.”
A national search for her successor will be held at the conclusion of the 2014 season.