BR-120 Fresno Pacific got a massive upgrade during the offseason and it didn’t come in the form of a forward, a goalkeeper or even a scorekeeper. It came in the form of arguably the most important piece to the puzzle — the head coach.
Rob Podeyn is accustomed to greatness. Just last season, while at the helm of South Baptist (MO), the longtime skipper amassed a 16-5-1 record that saw the squad win the conference championship, earn a Top-25 national ranking and an NCAA Tournament berth — the second in a row for the team.
SBU scored a staggering 50 goals during the 2014-15 season under the watchful eye of Podeyn, ranking the team sixth overall in offensive production in all of Division II. Last season at Fresno Pacific, the team posted just 23 goals, resulting in 1.44 per game. Over the course of his 13-year career, Podeyn teams have scored an average of 2.5 goals per game. If the offensive-minded coach can boost the Sunbirds’ offensive output that much, the team will see its stock skyrocket.
“I am honored that Fresno Pacific has chosen me to lead the women’s soccer program and I’d like to thank President Richard Kriegbaum and Director of Athletics Leslie Schuemann for inviting me to join the FPU family,” Podeyn said in a release after being hired. “This is a special group of young women who want to be successful and are committed to building a championship program in the PacWest Conference. I am excited and ready to help them reach these goals and to build FPU into an elite NCAA Division II program.”
Building an elite program won’t happen overnight, especially when you consider that the team hasn’t enjoyed a double digit win total in the past decade and went 6-8-2 last year.
That lack of success will do little to deter Podeyn, though. When he took over the program at Southern Baptist, the team was pitiful. Before that, he rebuilt Northwood (TX), Williams Woods (MO) and Central Florida. At Northwood, he took a team that went 3-12 and turned it around to become a nationally ranked school that won two conference championships.
Podeyn’s new team will see trial by fire entering its 2015 campaign as the Sunbirds take on BR-90 CSU East Bay in its opener on Sept. 3 and follow that up with games against BR-4 CSU Stanislaus and BR-69 CSU Monterey Bay. In a perfect scenario, FPU will be 2-1 when it enters a relatively easy part of its schedule, facing BR-206 Chaminade and BR-118 Hawaii Hilo in consecutive games.