Mohammed El-Zare was named the head coach of the Southern Miss women's soccer program on December 26, 2012 after a long and distinguished career in the world of college soccer.
The first year of the El-Zare Era of Southern Miss soccer was highlighted by team and individual success. The Golden Eagles set new records and produced other performances that ranked among the best in program history en route to one of the better seasons in a decade.
Southern Miss finished the 2013 season with a 7-9-4 record, the most wins in a season since an 8-11-0 showing in 2007 and the fewest losses in a season since going 4-9-2 in 2005.
All told, the 2013 Golden Eagles either set a record or cracked the top 10 in 18 team categories. Seven wins tied for sixth most victories in a season and the Golden Eagles' four ties set a new school record. The 2013 squad set new marks in saves (138), save percentage (.807), saves per game (6.9), total shots (323), total minutes played (21,092) and goalie minutes played (1,913).
Southern Miss' 43 goals were second most in a season behind only the 1997 squad that scored 44. Thirty assists were fourth most in school history and 116 total points were just three off the record of 119 set by the 1999 team.
Two Golden Eagles, Danica Roberts and Brittany Taylor, landed on the All-Conference USA Team. Roberts, a senior forward, earned third-team honors while Taylor, a freshman keeper, was named to the All-Freshman squad. It was the first time a Golden Eagle was recognized on the All-Conference team since 2011.
Roberts finished 2013 as an offensive star, not just for the team but among conference and national strikers. Her 13 goals were second most in a season in program history. Thirty-one total points in a season was third most all-time and five assists tied for seventh. Roberts led Conference USA in both overall points and goals the year.
Despite having played just two seasons in Hattiesburg, Roberts still managed to establish herself in the career record books with 19 career goals (seventh best) and an average of 0.5 goals and 1.13 points per game (both second best in school history).
Taylor set new single-season marks in a number of goalie-specific categories - 128 saves broke the record of 107 set by Hannah Vanderboegh in 2011 while an average of 7.1 saves per game bested the single-season mark of 6.69 set by Leslie Schoeplein in 2002.
Roberts and Taylor weren't the only Golden Eagles to make their mark during the 2013 season. Junior Brooke Hendrix put up seven assists, which was the fourth most in school history. Casey Adkins, a junior defender, earned First Team Conference USA All-Academic and tied the mark for most starts in a season (20). Senior Chelsea Cruthirds registered the program's 14th all-time hat trick.
El-Zare came to Southern Miss after a long and distinguished career in the soccer coaching profession, having led the Mobile Soccer Club as its Director of Coaching since 2007. During that span, El-Zare also assisted on the coaching staffs at the University of Mobile on the men's side and the women's side at the University of South Alabama (2002-11).
In 2011 with Mobile, El-Zare helped lead the team to the 2011 Southern States Athletic Conference Championship while coaching six SSAC All-Conference members and five NAIA All-Americans.
While at South Alabama, the squad advanced to the Sun Belt Conference Tournament in seven consecutive seasons and finished as the 2005 runner up.
Prior to his move to Alabama, El-Zare was an assistant on the women's side for two years at FIU. While in Miami, he was also the Director of Coach and Player Development for the Cape Coral Soccer Club (1999-02).
Additional collegiate coaching experience for El-Zare included a four-year run at Saint Thomas University where he served as the assistant men and women's coach during the 1995 season before taking over the women's program from 1996-98.
El-Zare's club experience includes time working with the Olympic Development Program of the Alabama Youth Soccer Association since 2002 and the Florida variant of the program prior to that.
Professionally, El-Zare was a coach for the Women's United Soccer Association and spent time as a player with the Florida Stars of the USISL out of Miami and the Al-Kuroom Vineyard F.C. in Alexandria, Egypt.
El-Zare earned his degree in Athletic Training and Physical Education from Lincoln Memorial University in 1992 while also performing as a scholarship student-athlete. He holds a USSF `A' license, an NSCAA Premier diploma, a USSF National Youth License, a KNVB-Dutch Soccer Association Advanced license, a TOPS Soccer license, and an AYSO Intermediate license.
What They Are Saying About Mohammed El-Zare:
"In searching for the right coach to lead our program, we had to find someone with an excellent resume for developing and recruiting talent, but also someone with a passion for working with our tremendous student-athletes at Southern Miss. I believe our committee found the right person for the job in Mohammed El-Zare. His plan for success is directly in line with what we were searching for, and we are all very excited to have him as a part of the Black and Gold family." - Jeff Hammond, Director of Athletics
"I am happy to welcome Coach "Mo" to the Golden Eagle family. He has tremendous respect in the soccer community, is a student of the game, and has been successful in player development while playing and coaching at a very high level. I am looking forward to him building a competitive women's soccer program at Southern Miss." - Sonya Varnell, Senior Associate AD/SWA
"As a guy who was given the gift of great leadership from my high school, college and pro coaches (Paul Bryant and Don Shula) on the game of football and the game of life, I appreciate people like Mohammed who make character development as important as athletic development. It has been a pleasure working with him through the years. When we work on both, everyone wins." - Bob Baumhower, NFL Pro Bowler and restaurateur
"I would like to place on record a big thank you to Mohammed for all he has done for youth and college soccer in the state of Alabama. Although he will be missed, I am sure that many of our young players will benefit from his recruitment at the college level in the years to come. Mohammed has been a wonderful example for players and coaches alike and we wish him and his family every success in his new role." - Gwynne Williams, Alabama Soccer Association
"I am very excited for Coach Mo. He has been one of my biggest supporters throughout my career. Without him, I may not have been able to accomplish the things that I did. Mo truly understands the game of soccer, especially the women's game, and I consider myself very fortunate to have had him as my coach. He is an outstanding coach who taught me things that I carried with me through my college and pro careers. These girls and the program are very lucky to have him take over the team, and I look forward to the future success of University of Southern Mississippi soccer." - Stacy Bishop, former professional women's soccer player