The Valparaiso University men’s soccer program has announced its coaching staff for the 2017 season.
Valpo head coach Mike Avery has tabbed veteran coach and former professional player Chris Pfau as the team’s top assistant, while two-time Valparaiso graduate Brendan Roth returns to his alma mater as an assistant coach.
Pfau comes to the Crusaders after spending the last six seasons guiding the University of Houston women’s soccer program. Pfau was also the head women’s coach at Akron (2008-12) and Evansville (2005-06) before taking over at Houston.
“I’ve known Chris for the better part of 25 years,” Avery said. “He’s a longtime friend. He’s been one of my closest coaching confidants. He’s someone I’ve always talked to over the years about soccer, coaching, life and family. When I had the opportunity to bring him on staff, it was something I couldn’t pass up.”
At Houston, Pfau led the Cougars to their first postseason berth since 2010 in his first season. He coached Cami Koski to American Goalkeeper of the Year honors in 2013.
During his tenure at Akron, Pfau took a Zips team that hadn’t reached the MAC Tournament in any of its first eight seasons to the MAC East Division title and three straight MAC Tournaments. His Akron side put together back-to-back undefeated seasons against MAC East Division foes, going 5-0 in 2009 and 4-0-1 in 2010.
“He was my first choice,” Avery said. “I think he’s going to bring a lot of experience and interesting ideas. Our players are going to benefit from having such an experienced soccer person around. He’s a really good coach first and foremost. He’s got a great eye for talent; he’s a great teacher of the game. At the end of the day, our program and players are going to benefit from this.”
Pfau also had success during his time at Evansville, leading the Purple Aces to the 2006 Missouri Valley Conference Finals and the 2007 MVC Tournament. Evansville enjoyed the seventh-best improvement nationally in his first season in 2005.
Pfau’s extensive resume also includes experience as the Director of Coaching for the Junior Irish Soccer Club (2002-03), the women’s head coach at St. Mary’s College (2002-03), the men’s head coach at Mount Mary College (1999-02), an assistant for the Cincinnati River Hawks of the A-League (1997-99) and the head coach of Cincinnati United Soccer Club (1995-99).
Before his coaching tenure began, Pfau was a highly successful player at Old Dominion. He was a team captain, four-year starter and all-region honoree during his collegiate playing days, which spanned from 1985-89. Pfau went on to enjoy a lengthy professional playing career in the APSL, WPSL and WSL from 1989-99.
Roth is back to begin a second stint on Valpo’s staff in 2017. He was a member of Avery’s first recruiting class and played for the Crusaders from 2007-11. He appeared in 66 matches and made 42 starts during his collegiate career. After graduation, Roth spent four years on Valpo’s staff, including time as the reserve team coach and the director of soccer operations. He earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Valpo.
“Brendan has been with me as a player and as an assistant coach longer than anybody,” Avery said. “He has so much institutional knowledge. He loves the program dearly.”
Roth spent the 2016 season as the head coach at Calumet College of Saint Joseph’s.
“He’s really grown as a coach,” Avery said. “I can tell that the head coaching experience has been invaluable to him as a coach. He’s gained confidence, experience and savvy. I’m excited to add all of those elements into our staff.”
In addition, David Stroud returns for his fourth season as an assistant coach for the Crusaders. Stroud works directly with the team’s goalkeepers. Avery will have the rare luxury of having three assistants with previous head coaching experience.
“It’s a really experienced group,” Avery said. “We have ambitious players that not only want to do well while they’re here, but most of them want to play beyond here. We’ve put together a staff that can help them achieve those goals.”
The program continued its history of successfully helping assistant coaches advance their careers after stints under the tutelage of Avery.
Pfau replaces Kelly Altman, who accepted a position at New Mexico after four seasons at Valpo. Roth fills the role previously occupied by Adam Ponder, who recently joined Wright State’s staff.
Former Valpo assistants have gone on to hold positions at various notable programs. Rick King moved on to Duke, Jeff Oleck to Northwestern, Cailean Bailey to Yale, Phil Ruskin to Cal Poly and Andy McCaslin to Ferris State as the women’s head coach.
“That’s a testament to our program,” Avery said. “People recognize that we’re doing something right here at Valpo.”