Soccer vs Louisiana Lafayette
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.
In year two, El-Zare continued to build. Despite a 5-11-3 overall record, he continued to see improvement in the Golden Eagles. Senior Casey Adkins was dubbed All-Conference USA (Third Team), while Adkins and sophomore Brittany Taylor both earned First Team C-USA All-Academic honors.
As a team, the 2014 squad was recognized for its work in the classroom as the National Soccer Coaches Association (NSCAA) announced the Golden Eagles as one of its annual Team Academic Award winners. In addition, soccer saw 22 student-athletes tally a 3.0 grade point average or higher to be named on the Conference USA Commissioner's Honor Roll. The 22 student-athletes recognized was the second most for Southern Miss on the year behind football (27) and the most among female sports. Seven of the student-athletes recorded a GPA of 3.75 or better to earn C-USA Commissioner's Academic Medals.
Prior to Southern Miss, El-Zare came to Hattiesburg 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.
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