Written By: Rhode Island Athletic Dept.
KINGSTON, R.I. - Michael Needham has been named the seventh head coach in the history of the University of Rhode Island's women's soccer program, it was announced today by Director of Athletics Thorr Bjorn.
Needham, a 1996 graduate of the University Rhode Island, returns to Kingston after a two-year stint as head coach at New Mexico State in which he oversaw the start of the Aggies soccer program.
"We are very excited about having Michael Needham return to URI to lead our women's soccer program," said Bjorn. "He is a proven winner with a passion for URI soccer. I believe our women's soccer program should compete year-in and year-out for an A-10 championship and the NCAA tournament. I am very confident that Michael is the person that will be able to achieve those goals for the University of Rhode Island."
In two seasons in Las Cruces, Needham guided the program to 16 wins, including a nine-win campaign in the program's inaugural season in 2009. That season, Needham guided NMSU to the postseason, entering the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Tournament as the fifth seed. The Aggies finished the season ranked No. 15 in the NCAA in attendance, averaging 1,129 fans for seven home matches.
"I would like to thank Thorr Bjorn, Sue Bergen, and the search committee for their confidence in my ability to lead this program," Needham said. "The University of Rhode Island has always been close to my heart, and the opportunity to come back to Kingston as a head coach is one that I have always been preparing for. I believe in the University and the community and know that we can do special things in the soccer program at URI."
Under Needham, several New Mexico State student-athletes earned All-WAC honors. In 2010, midfielder Crystal Burns was a second team all-conference selection, while in 2009, goalkeeper Katie Graul was a first team selection and midfielder Jazmin Cardoso earned second team honors.
Needham's teams at New Mexico State were also successful in the classroom. The 2010 squad earned the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Team Academic Award, after posting a team GPA of 3.33.
Prior to New Mexico State, Needham spent two seasons as the top assistant coach at George Mason. While with the Patriots, Needham was responsible for every aspect of the program, including on-field direction, budget responsibilities, daily program operations, and the student-athletes' academic success. He was also the program's recruiting coordinator and orchestrated two of the top recruiting classes in Mason history.
From 2005-06, Needham served as an assistant coach at UNLV, where he assisted the Rebels to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances after winning the Mountain West Conference title both seasons. While with the Rebels, Needham worked with and trained the defensive unit. UNLV's 2005 squad allowed just 14 goals en route to a program-best 13 wins. Needham also made a solid impact in the recruiting at UNLV, posting classes that were consistently ranked in the West region and in the top five throughout the Mountain West Conference, according to Soccer Buzz Magazine.
Needham also served as an assistant at Drury University in Springfield, Mo. from 2002-03 and was an assistant at URI from 2000-01. He also has extensive experience coaching outside the collegiate ranks. He worked with the Region IV Olympic Development Program as a staff coach and prior to that he was with the Nevada Olympic Development Program as head coach. He also spent time at the United Soccer Academy in Delray Beach, Fla., as the Director of Coaching.
The Killingworth, Conn. native has his United States Soccer Federation National `A' License, a National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) 'Premier Diploma' in addition to an NSCAA Advanced National Diploma with Distinction and an United States Soccer Federation National Youth Licensure.
He earned a bachelor's degree in exercise science in 1996 from Rhode Island and a master's degree in physical education from Drury in 2003. After a standout four-year career with the Rams, Needham played professionally with the Municipal Goecechea, in the Costa Rican Premier League in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Needham and his wife, Christy, have a daughter, Riley.