Stu Riddle finished his second season with the Norse in 2018. NKU posted a 10-7 record, which was the most wins for the program in the Division I era. The team also achieved a No. 9 ranking in the United Soccer Coaches North Region poll earlier in the season. The North Region included all four teams that advanced to the Final Four of the 2018 NCAA College Cup.
Freshman Alex Willis was named the Horizon League Freshman of the Year and to the All-Horizon League First Team. He was also selected to the United Soccer Coaches All-North Region Second Team, the Top Drawer Soccer Freshmen Best XI First Team, and the College Soccer News All-Freshman First Team. Willis finished the season ranked as the 11th-best freshman by Top Drawer Soccer. Sophomore Alex Grieve earned All-Horizon League Second Team honors, and freshman Stian Jørgensen was named to the All-Horizon League Freshman team.
Under Riddle's guidance, Willis finished fourth in the NCAA in goals scored, Greive tied for fourth in the nation in total assists, and the team ranked ninth in the NCAA in scoring offense with 2.18 goals per match.
The 2018 season also saw Rikard Lindqvist and Jim Barkei earn Horizon League All-Academic Team honors. Additionally, Lindqvist was named to the Google Cloud Academic All-District Team and the Google Cloud Academic All-America Third Team, as selected by CoSIDA. Prior to this past season, the team achieved a 3.48 GPA in the Spring of 2018 semester, which was the highest GPA in program history.
In Riddle's first season with the Norse in 2017, the team had a winning 7-6-4 record, which was just the third winning season in the Division I era for the program. Jim Barkei was named the Horizon League Goalkeeper of the Year and to the All-Horizon League First Team, and Harvey Moyes earned Horizon League All-Freshman Team honors. The 2017 season also saw the team record eight shutouts and allow just 17 goals, which were both records in the Division I era. NKU also improved its RPI ranking by 71 spots from 205 to 134.
Northern Kentucky University Director of Athletics Ken Bothof announced the hiring of Riddle as Head Men's Soccer Coach on January 9, 2017. Riddle is the fourth-ever head coach of the Norse.
"On behalf of Norse Nation, I would like to welcome Stu and his family to Northern Kentucky University," said Bothof. "His experience building Division I soccer programs is invaluable as we look to him to continue fostering a culture of success for a program with a storied history. He has displayed a commitment to both athletic and academic success that make him a great fit for our department, campus and community."
Riddle comes to NKU following a four-year stint as head men's soccer coach at the University at Buffalo where he most recently led the Bulls to their second-straight Mid-American Conference Championship match appearance.
In addition to leading Buffalo to a pair of MAC Championship appearances in each of the last two seasons, Riddle guided the Bulls to the program's winningest season in over a decade in 2016 with a record of 12-4-3, which included a school-record 10 shutouts. The Bulls garnered NSCAA top-25 votes for five-consecutive weeks and ended the season with a school record No. 47 ranking in the RPI and No. 4 ranking in the Great Lakes Regional poll. Russell Cicerone, one of Riddle's players at Buffalo for the last four years, is projected by DraftUtopia.com to be selected in the second round of this year's MLS draft, which occurs later this week.
"I would like to thank Ken Bothof and Dan McIver for giving me the opportunity to lead the men's soccer program at NKU. It was very clear throughout the interview process how professionally run the athletic department is and how important the men's soccer program is to the administration," said Riddle. "The facilities and support network are second-to-none and I can't wait to get on campus, ingrain myself into the local soccer community and work with the team to bring the success this program deserves to NKU."
The Wellington, New Zealand native has eight years of experience as a head coach at the Division I level. He has amassed a 61-68-21 career record.
Riddle has made four MAC Championship appearances in the last seven years at two different MAC institutions – Buffalo and Western Michigan. He has coached 17 All-MAC selections along with one conference player of the year and one freshman of the year while 13 players have also received All-MAC Tournament Team honors under his guidance.
In his third year as head coach at Buffalo in 2015, Riddle led UB to its first winning season since 2008. He has also guided his teams to success in the classroom, as the program posted a 3.0 GPA or better in each of his four seasons as head coach to earn the NSCAA Team Academic Award. In the last two seasons alone, Riddle has coached 15 academic All-MAC student-athletes.
Prior to coaching at Buffalo for four seasons, Riddle was the head coach at Western Michigan for four years from 2009 through 2013 where he led the Broncos to a pair of MAC Championship appearances. In his second year at WMU, Riddle led the team to its best MAC record in school history and also guided the Broncos to their winningest overall record in seven years at 10-8-1. His squad was also recognized by the NCAA for posting an APR progress rate score in the top 10 percent of Division I men's soccer teams.
A 1998 graduate of Coastal Carolina, Riddle began his coaching career as a Volunteer Assistant Coach at his alma mater after playing collegiately for the Chanticleers. He earned All-Big South Conference honors as a player and also played professionally in Australia, England, Scotland and the New Zealand National Team.
His coaching career included stops at the University of Evansville, the University of Southern Indiana and Fairfield University where he served as an assistant coach. He also coached the Kalamazoo Outrage Soccer Club from 2007-08 in the organization's debut season in the United Soccer League's Premier Development League. Riddle earned a master's degree in public service administration from Evansville in 2007 while serving as the assistant coach of the Purple Aces for two seasons.
Northern Kentucky men's soccer has a rich tradition of success, highlighted by a Division II national championship in 2010. Since its inception in 1980, the program has amassed a 384-291-64 overall record (.563 winning percentage), seven conference titles and 14 All-Americans, including the 2010 DII National Player of the Year, Steven Beattie, who currently plays professionally for Cork City FC after being drafted by Toronto FC.
The Norse remained competitive throughout the Division I transition, which began in 2012 and included two winning seasons en route to a 30-31-15 record during the four-year reclassification period. The department was granted official Division I status in August of this year after completing the four-year transition.