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Liz Driscoll named women’s soccer assistant coach

Former Wellesley head coach has impressive track record as a player and leader

Liz Driscoll, the new women’s soccer assistant coach.

The BU women’s soccer team is heading into the fall after its best season ever. “But there’s no reason why we can’t go deeper into the NCAA tournament this year,” says new assistant coach Liz Driscoll, who will begin her Terrier tenure on August 1.

It’s that kind of competitive attitude that brought Driscoll to the attention of head coach Nancy Feldman when she sought to replace Jen Goff, who departed last spring. Driscoll compiled a record of 63-35-11 in her seven years as head coach of Wellesley College, and her impact was felt immediately with the Blue: in 1999, her first season there, she brought Wellesley, with a 17-2-1 record, to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Division III tournament after capturing the New England Men’s and Women’s Athletic Conference (NEMWAC) title.

The 17 victories were a school record, and Driscoll was named NEWMAC Coach of the Year. But Feldman’s familiarity with Driscoll goes beyond her reputation. Indeed, in the past few years she has worked with the native of Essex County, England on CityKicks, a collaborative effort that partners the Boston Public School system with the local soccer community, giving inner-city middle school girls a chance to play on organized soccer teams. “She is full of good humor, and has a great disposition, and a positive outlook,” says Feldman.

The Terriers, who advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division I tournament last year —and boasted a 14-5-4 record — also have a positive attitude. The team lost eight seniors to graduation, but its 2006 recruiting class was ranked tops in the America East conference by Soccer Buzz magazine. Furthermore, BU enjoyed an undefeated spring exhibition season, beating Brown, Providence, Harvard, and the Renegades (a team of former college players and Boston area youth soccer stars). The Terriers tied Boston College and Northeastern, allowing a total of two goals in the six games.

“Last year, the sophomores-to-be didn’t get a lot of playing time,” says Feldman. “But they learned a lot from watching and got to showcase their skills in the spring exhibition. They’re going to be really hungry in the fall.” Some women’s college soccer observers expect an inevitable letdown on a team with so much youth coming in, but the Terriers take umbrage with that assumption. “It was implied that we’d take a dip, and the players took it personally. They’ve got a bit of a chip on their shoulder, and Liz knows how to both motivate a group and develop individual players.”

This year’s Terrier youth movement suits Driscoll just fine. “It’s a great time for me to join the team,” she says. “We have 10 new players coming in, and we can all be new together. It will be a smooth transition.”  Her style is to “put players at the center” and refrain from interfering in drills and scrimmages during practice. “I want them to get the most out of practices. I don’t want to constantly stop what they are doing to coach them. It’s a style similar to Nancy’s, and I think we’ll work well together.”

As a player, Driscoll’s school record 34 of goals helped Franklin Pierce College to three appearances in the NCAA Division II Final Four, culminating in a national championship in 1994. She began her coaching career the following year as an assistant at Wellesley, served as interim head coach at Lock Haven University in 1997, and was head coach at Lock Haven in 1998, when the Lady Eagles posted a 7-1-2 in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.

“Liz is a joy to be around,” says Feldman. “She’s going to be learning the ropes of Division I recruiting, but she’s a natural at interacting with people and she can connect with players well. Her breadth of experience as a head coach, and the success she’s had as both a player and a coach, will be a welcome addition to our program.”