John Basalyga, the head coach of the Northern Kentucky University men’s soccer team, received a national honor after leading the Norse in a great season that had a picture-perfect ending.
Basalyga was named the NCAA Division II National Coach of the Year by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America in a season that saw the Norse win the program’s first NCAA championship.
The Norse finished with a 20-2-3 record this year, including winning their first Great Lakes Valley Conference Championship in 15 seasons and their first national championship in program history by defeating Rollins College 3-2.
The 2010 Norse team featured Steven Beattie who won the NCAA Division II National Player of the Year for the second consecutive year. He led all Division II players with 68 points and ranked second nationally in goals scored with 26 and in assists with 16. In this championship season, he also became NKU’s all-time leading scorer.
Other contributors to the team were Paul Andrews, who ranked second on the team with 10 assists and led a defensive unit that allowed just 24 goals over a span of 25 games and collected nine shutouts, earning him a spot on the All-GLVC Second Team.
The Norse also had the GLVC Freshman of the Year in Michael Holder, who was also a key factor in the success of the team throughout the season, and by netting the game-winning tally in the national championship victory.
Prior to accepting the NKU job, Basalyga compiled a 325-93-58 record as boys’ soccer coach at Turpin High School in Cincinnati for 24 years. He led the team to 15 sectional championships, and was named the Ohio High School State Coach of the Year in 2001.
Basalyga carried his success over to NKU. When he accepted the head job in 2003, the Norse had posted losing records in five of the last six seasons. In his first season, the team had a 4-9-3 record. He was able to turn the program around as the Norse have finished the last seven seasons with winning records.
Basalyga has been able to gradually have his teams get a little bit better each year. In 2005, Basalyga’s squad won the first GLVC Tournament game for the men’s soccer program since 1997 by upsetting the third-seed Wisconsin Parkside. In 2006, he led them to the program’s first appearance in the NCAA Tournament. In 2007, his team set a school record by winning 22 games, including a perfect 13-0 conference record. That performance earned him his second consecutive GLVC and Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year awards.
In 2008, Basalyga set a new standard for the program by taking the Norse to the Division II Final Four. In 2010, he topped all of his previous successes by leading the team to NKU’s first men’s national championship.
In his eight seasons as the Norse head coach, Basaylga has an impressive record of 116-39-19.
During his time he has coached seven All-Americans, 19 All-GLVC performers, two GLVC Offensive Player of the Year award winners in Beattie and Braden Bishop, one Defensive Player of the Year in Andy Bacon and a Division II Player of the Year in Beattie.
Also in his tenor, the soccer team has transitioned into the $6.5 million NKU Soccer Stadium, ending a 10-year period of Norse soccer playing off-campus in Wilder, Ky.
The 1,000 seated stadium allowed the Norse to host NCAA championship tournaments.
Story by John Minor