Billy Colton enters his fourth season as Gannon’s head men’s soccer coach in 2022, and his eighth year overall as a member of the staff. He owns a 37-9-3 record in his first three campaigns with the Golden Knights making the NCAA Division II Tournament both years it was held. (NOTE: The NCAA did not hold a tournament in 2020 due to COVID-19). It marks the first time Gannon’s men’s soccer team made consecutive NCAA Tournaments since 1989-90.
The Golden Knights finished with a 16-3-3 record in 2021. They finished tied for first with Mercyhurst in the PSAC West with a 7-1-2 record in conference play and went in as the second seed, reaching the PSAC Championship game for the second straight year. It marked the fifth straight PSAC Tournament appearance for the Golden Knights. Gannon defeated Seton Hill (2-1) and Lock Haven (1-0) before suffering a 2-0 loss to Millersville in a snowy championship game. It was a rematch of the 2019 PSAC title game and the third time in the last four seasons Gannon had reached the PSAC Championship game.
Gannon then faced the Marauders once again in the second round of the NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional. The two teams would battle to a 2-2 tie after 110 minutes. They moved to penalty kicks to determine who would advance, with Millersville prevailing 4-3. The Golden Knights would finish the year ranked 18th in the final United Soccer Coaches Division II Top 25 after climbing as high as 12th during the season.
Colton’s players received numerous postseason awards. Sergio Del Castillo would earn All-American honors both athletically and academically, earning second team CoSIDA Academic All-America accolades United Soccer Coaches Scholar All-American academically. He was a third team United Soccer Coaches and D2CCA All-American, the tenth Gannon player recognized by the United Soccer Coaches and the sixth by the D2CCA.
Three players earned United Soccer Coaches All-Atlantic Region honors. Del Castillo was a first team selection, Bautista Corti was named to the second team and Toby Gower to the third team. In addition, Del Castillo and Corti were named to the D2CCA All-Atlantic Region first team.
Corti was voted the PSAC West Defensive Athlete of the Year, while five Golden Knights earned All-PSAC West honors. They included Corti, Del Castillo and Joe Knox as first team selections. Gower and Bek Nurlanbek were both second team selections.
With the 2020 season interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Gannon was able to play six matches in the spring of 2021, finishing with a 3-3-0 ledger.
In his first season at the helm of the program, Colton guided the Golden Knights to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2012. Gannon finished with an 18-3-0 record for the program's second-best finish in history. The Golden Knights clinched their first-ever PSAC West regular season crown while posting a 9-1-0 record in conference play.
Gannon downed West Chester in the PSAC Semifinals, 2-1 in overtime, to advance to the PSAC Championship game for the second time in three seasons. Gannon fell in the championship to Millersville, 1-0, but earned its way to the NCAA Tournament as a No. 2 seed in the Super Region 1.
As the No. 2 seed, the Golden Knights hosted the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament and earned a first-round bye. Colton led Gannon to a 5-0 triumph over No. 10 Assumption in the second round after Assumption had upset No. 7 West Chester. As the highest remaining seed, Gannon hosted the third round and quarterfinals. The Golden Knights would see their season come to a close in the third round with a 3-0 loss to third-seeded Charleston (WV).
Following the 2019 season, Colton was named the PSAC West Coach of the Year, while his players swept the other major awards. Alex Lee Yaw was named the PSAC West Player of the Year, Chandler Hallwood was named the PSAC West Defensive Athlete of the Year, and Del Castillo was named the PSAC West Freshman of the Year.
Colton produced three United Soccer Coaches All-Americans, a D2CCA All-American, the D2CCA Atlantic All-Region Player of the Year, five D2CCA All-Region selections, five United Soccer Coaches Atlantic Region selections, and seven All-PSAC West honorees. Colton and his staff were also named the United Soccer Coaches Atlantic Region Coaching Staff of the Year.
Colton's players also excelled in the classroom and brought home various academic awards: the PSAC Men's Soccer Champion Scholar, a CoSIDA Academic All-American, two United Soccer Coaches Scholar All-Americans, and three United Soccer Coaches Scholar All-East First Team selections.
As an assistant coach, Colton helped the Knights to three straight seasons of double-digit victories and PSAC playoff appearances. He came to Gannon as an assistant beginning with the 2015 season, helping the Golden Knights improve their win total in the first year before embarking on back-to-back 11-win seasons.
Gannon ripped off an eight-match unbeaten streak midway through the 2017 season on its way to an 11-7-1 overall record. The Golden Knights reached the PSAC Tournament championship match for the first time in program history.
The team had a similar season in 2018, going 10-2-1 over a stretch of 13 games heading into the final game of the regular season. There, they faced Millersville for an outright regular season championship, and qualified for the PSAC Tournament for the third straight season, ending the season with a 10-6-2 ledger.
Colton previously spent time as a coach in the New York Red Bulls organization of Major League Soccer prior to his arrival at Gannon, working in the training program department during two different stints in 2012 and 2015. In between, he served as the head of youth development for the Laindon Orient F.C. (2014-15) and a coach with Advanced Total Soccer Coaching (2014). Other coaching experiences include time with the Erie Gunners, Family First (Pa.) Sports Park summer camps and Great Lakes (Pa.) Soccer.
Colton was a standout player at Mercyhurst from 2007-11. A four-year starter, he earned first team all-conference accolades every season. His numerous honors included three all-region selections and a pair of All-ECAC all-star accolades. He finished his career second all-time at Mercyhurst in goals with 55 in 66 starts, just one goal shy of the school record. He also ranks third on Mercyhurst’s all-time scoring chart with 121 points. His efforts in the classroom resulted in two ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District awards.
Those contributions helped the Lakers rise as high as fourth in the nation on two occasions in 2008 and 2011. Mercyhurst qualified for three consecutive NCAA Division II Tournaments (2009-11). He was named Mercyhurst Rookie of the Year in 2007 and team MVP in 2008.
Colton also played four seasons with the Erie Admirals Soccer Club during a time that spanned the last three years of his collegiate career and one post-collegiate year. He helped the Admirals advance to the national championship match during the organization’s inaugural season in 2009, before finishing third in 2011 and 2013. The squad was tabbed No. 1 in the nation twice (2009 and 2011). In all, the Admirals posted a 42-9-5 record during Colton’s four years.
A forward on the soccer field, Colton concluded his playing career with Waitakere United in New Zealand in 2013. He was part of a 30-man squad in the Oceania Champions League, competing against players who played in the 2010 World Cup for New Zealand.
The Pitsea, England, native received his bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Sports Communication and English from Mercyhurst in 2011, graduating with honors. He earned his master’s degree in Business Administration from Gannon in 2018. Colton and his wife, Jennifer, live in Erie with their son Jack, born July 2, 2021.