Addition of Minneapolis, Minn. product brings 2015 recruiting class to ten
Ramblers face challenging slate, highlighted by games against four 2014 NCAA Tournament participants
Kelkheim, Germany native set to join Ramblers in the fall
Eight-member class receives 3.5-star rating from website
Six-game slate sees Ramblers face teams from across the region
Neil Jones, who spent three seasons as the associate head coach at Northwestern University, is set to begin his third season as the head coach of the Loyola University Chicago men's soccer program. Jones was named to his current position on December 20, 2012. In addition to helping the Wildcats to back-to-back Big Ten Conference titles and NCAA Tournament appearances during his stay in Evanston, Ill., the Auckland, New Zealand native helped UC Santa Barbara to the 2006 national championship as an assistant coach for the Gauchos.
Jones' second season in Rogers Park proved to be highly successful as he led the Maroon & Gold to its first winning record since the 2008 season. Jones and his coaching staff were recognized as the Missouri Valley Conference's Coaching Staff of the Year following a breakout 8-6-5 campaign, while Tim Dobrowolski and Eric Schoendorf were tabbed as First Team All-Valley selections and NSCAA/Continental Tire All-West Region honorees. The season was highlighted by thrilling overtime victories against conference rival Bradley and No. 20 Northwestern, the Ramblers' first win over their neighbors from Evanston, Ill. in over a decade, as well as the program's first-ever victory in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, a 3-1 triumph over Drake. The team also received recognition for its strong work in the classroom. Daniel Hare and Schoendorf both earned spots on the Valley's Scholar-Athlete Team for Men's Soccer, while the team was recognized with the NSCAA's Team Academic Award for the fourth consecutive year.
Jones helped guide the Ramblers to a fifth-place finish and a berth in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament during his first season as the bench boss in Rogers Park. The team finished with a final mark of 6-11-2 but were able to collect victories in its final two conference contests to finish the season on an upswing. The 2013 campaign also saw Brian Bement and Ryan Howe receive All-Missouri Valley Conference accolades. Bement became the focal point of Jones' attack, netting a team-high eight goals, while Howe was a fixture in the Rambler lineup, starting in 16 of the 17 games that he saw action in.
Jones spent three years as head coach Tim Lenahan's right-hand man at Northwestern and helped the Wildcats to a pair of NCAA appearances, including a run to the Sweet Sixteen this fall. During his three seasons on Lenahan's staff at Northwestern, the Wildcats compiled a 32-19-11 (.605) record, posted an Academic Progress Rate (APR) of 1000, and earned a National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Team Academic award for having a team grade-point average of 3.0 or higher.
"I am very excited to be a part of the athletics department and University with all of the resources and energy being invested," Jones commented. "I look forward to competing for Missouri Valley Conference championships and NCAA Tournament appearances on a consistent basis, as well as working with the student-athletes on a daily basis to not only make them better soccer players, but also aid in their development as men."
Prior to his arrival in the Midwest, Jones spent four years as an assistant men's soccer coach at his alma mater, UC Santa Barbara, where he helped the Gauchos win 68 percent (57-23-12) of their matches and advance to four NCAA Tournaments.
As a student-athlete at UCSB, Jones was a four-year starter and two-time team captain for a program that finished as the 2004 NCAA Runner-Up after falling to Indiana University on penalty kicks. A two-time All-Big West Conference selection, the center back/striker, who racked up 28 goals and 16 assists in his career, was a Academic All-American and was tabbed 2003 Big West Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
"This is a great hire for Loyola University and I am sure that their players and administration there will soon learn what our players know - that coach Jones is passionate about developing a successful program on the field, successful student-athletes in the classroom, and successful people in life," Northwestern head coach Tim Lenahan said. "I can't thank Neil enough for his contributions to Northwestern soccer. Not only have we experienced unprecedented success with two Big Ten championships and a Big Ten Tournament title during his three years here, but his impact in developing our fan base and the marketing of the program to the Chicagoland community has been phenomenal. It's a big loss for us at Northwestern, but I'm very happy for Neil."
A 2004 graduate of UC Santa Barbara, Jones also owns a master's degree from UCSB. He holds an "A" license from the United State Soccer Federation (USSF).