After leading the Hawks to their best record since 2004, fourth-year Men’s Soccer Head Coach Eric Watson was named the SUNYAC Men’s Soccer Coach of the Year award by the conference office on Sunday.
Watson led the Hawks to a 8-9-1 record in 2010, and kept the team in playoff contention until the last day of SUNYAC play.
“It is always a good feeling to be recognized by your peers,” Watson said. “This award is something that I share with the entire team.”
The Coach of the Year award is decided by the coaches in the SUNYAC conference who nominate up to three coaches for the award. Each coach puts in their suggestion for a first, second and third place nomination, and the coach with the most points wins the award.
In addition to the team’s record, Watson coached the Hawks to seven shutouts, which was as many as the team had in the previous three seasons combined.
Watson said that he credits the award to the team for their hard work and dedication over his tenure as head
Fourth-year forward Dave Gardiner thought Watson deserved the award because of the direction in which he led the program over the past few years. He said that looking back at where the soccer program was when he was named head coach and what it has become shows the significance Watson had on his team.
“[The program] was not taken seriously,” Gardiner said. “This year we went into every game and had a great chance of winning.”
Gardiner said that Watson’s style of coaching was calm and collected, which he appreciated.
“He breaks the game down for us at practice and halftime and he explains to you what to do and doesn’t talk down to you,” Gardiner
Watson also had the team work on their fitness, something Gardiner believes helped them succeed this season.
According to Gardiner, Watson would have the team split up practice between playing and fitness drills. He said that this led to the team “going 100 percent” in the final minutes of a game, and allowed them to make good decisions as the clock wound down.
The last New Paltz soccer coach to win Coach of the Year is current Athletic Director Stuart Robinson. Robinson gained the recognition after his 2004 squad won 12 games.
Despite the strong season and step in the right direction, Watson never thought of winning the award during the
“My goal all season long had been to make our team the best we could be,” Watson said.