Adam Cooper enters his 15th season as head coach for the Gaels in 2020 and is the most successful coach in program history.
He is a 4-time WCC Coach of the Year, has led the Gaels to the best stretch of seasons in school history and owns the program's top marks for wins-per-season, overall and WCC winning percentage and conference victories. His teams have finished among the top half in the league standings in nine of the last 10 years.
In 2019, Saint Mary's repeated their success with a 16-2-0 record and made the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season. Cooper picked up his second straight WCC Coach of the Year award and led the Gaels to a perfect 7-0 conference record, the first time any WCC school has ever accomplished the feat. Anders Engebretsen and Remi Prieur were named All-Americans with Engebretsen earning First Team honors in addition to being named WCC Co-Player of the Year. SMC ranked with the top-15 in the country for the entire season and topped out at No. 6 midway through the season. A loss to UC Davis concluded the team's 31-match undefeated streak that stretched back to 2017. A total of nine Gaels earned All-WCC honors and the team claimed Co-Player (Engebretsen), Goalkeeper (Prieur), and Defender (Filippo Zattarin) of the Year recognition.
The men's soccer team had one of the best campaigns in Saint Mary's athletics history in 2018 as they posted an 18-0-2 record and were the only Div. I team to go undefeated. The Gaels peaked as high as No. 4 in the United Soccer Coaches' poll and led the nation in goals scored and goals against average. SMC defeated three ranked teams during the season, including No. 24 Oregon State in the NCAA Tournament, and set a program record for goals in a game versus a DI opponent when they torched San Francisco, 8-0.
Saint Mary's was picked to finish third in the WCC in the preseason coaches' poll but Cooper and his staff of Josh Duffy and Charlie Campbell defied all odds by leading the team to an undefeated season and conference title. The staff was named the United Soccer Coaches DI Staff of the Year as well as All-West Region Staff of the Year. Cooper picked up his third WCC Coach of the Year honor to boot.
The team secured their second ever WCC Title in 2018 with a 6-0-1 conference record and claimed the title outright after a 1-0 win over Gonzaga on Nov. 4. The team drew one of the largest crowds ever to a Saint Mary's soccer match during the third round of the NCAA Tournament versus No. 7 Stanford when 2,753 rowdy fans packed in Saint Mary's Stadium. For the first time in program history, the Gaels produced an All-American as Jake Rudel and Remi Prieur were both selected to the Third Team. A total of nine players were selected as All-WCC including Prieur who won Goalkeeper of the Year and Sebastian Schacht who was named Freshman of the Year.
In 2017, Cooper led the Gaels to a 6-6-5 overall record. The Gaels dominated over Loyola Marymount, 5-0, in the 2017 regular season, making that the largest margin of victory since 2003. Cooper had four players selected as 2017 All-West Coast Conference honors, Jake Rudel was named First Team All-WCC, Stephen Dougherty was honored on the Second Team, defender Tobias Clauss was named Honorable Mention, while freshman defender Filippo Zattarin was named on the WCC All Freshman Team.
In 2016, Cooper led his squad to an overall record of 8-8-3, and had a chance to claim the WCC crown heading into the season's final game. The youthful Gaels had 13 freshman on the roster, and still competed at an extremely high level. SMC won its first game over a top-25 team since 2014 in the team's 2-1 overtime victory at No. 17 West Virginia.
The Gaels placed six players on the All-Conference teams as Rafael Sanchez was named to the First Team. Junior Ben Braman and freshman Jakub Svehlik were both honored on the Second Team, while keeper Andrew Konstantino was named Honorable Mention. First year players Jake Rudel and Svehlik were also selected to the WCC All-Frshman team.
In 2014, his team overcame a myriad of injuries to key starters to compile a 12-5-2 record and set program bests for wins in a season, fewest losses in a season and winning percentage. The team's 5-2-0 mark in league play also set a program best as the team finished second in the WCC standings. In 2015, the team equaled that 5-2-0 mark and was just a game away from the league title.
That season, Andre Rawls was one of three Gaels to earn first-team all-WCC honors, became the first SMC player to earn WCC Goalkeeper of the Year and was a NSCAA first-team all-Far West Region selection. He was drafted in the third round of Major League Soccer's SuperDraft by New York City FC.
In 2011, the Gaels registered, arguably, Saint Mary's best season in any sport, as the Gaels advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight in 2011, before falling at eventual national champion, North Carolina. Saint Mary's ended the WCC slate with back-to-back shutouts, lifting SMC to its first-ever West Coast Conference crown. Cooper was named WCC Coach of the Year and eight Gaels were named to the All-Conference Team.
In the 2011 NCAA Tournament, the Gaels went on the road and won three consecutive games at No. 25 CSU Bakersfield, at No. 7 UC Irvine and at Brown. Cooper's Gaels would finish the year ranked No. 14 in the final NSCAA Poll.
A few months later, SMC goalkeeper Doug Herrick was selected by the Portland Timbers in the MLS supplemental draft.
In the NCAA Tournament season of 2009, Cooper was named the West Coast Conference Coach of the Year after guiding the Gaels to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. Cooper's Gaels posted the best record in SMC men's soccer history (10-5-5) and became the first team to post ten wins in a season. Cooper had eight players named to the 2009 All-WCC teams including a Defensive Player of the Year award going to junior Jordan Grider. Cooper was also named the NSCAA/MONDO West Region Coach of the Year following the 2009 season.
In his first season at the helm of the Saint Mary's men's soccer program, Adam Cooper led the Gaels to new achievements. For the first time in school history the Gaels downed ranked opponents in back-to-back games. To start the 2006 conference season, SMC defeated No. 11 USF 1-0 and No. 10 USD 4-2.
On top of the team accomplishments, Cooper guided individuals to numerous weekly honors. Alex Christlieb was named the West Coast Conference Co-Player of the Week and to the College Soccer News, Soccer America and Top Drawer Soccer Teams of the week. Christlieb became the first Gaels to ever receive all four honors in the same week. Dylan Leslie was tabbed WCC Player of the Week the very next selection. Five honors were bestowed on SMC players at the end of the season. Matthew Fitzgerald was named to the first-team while Leslie garnered second-team honors and a selection to the All-Freshmen Team. Desmond Brooks and Christlieb were named honorable mention.
Under the direction of Cooper, two former players were drafted and will continue their soccer careers. Brooks was selected second overall in the Major League Soccer Supplemental Draft by Chivas USA. Brooks became the first men's soccer player at SMC to be drafted by the MLS. Fitzgerald was selected by the California Victory in the 2007 USL First Division College Player Draft.
In addition to Cooper's influence on the Saint Mary's program, the fifth-year head coach was also bestowed another highly-touted coaching position by being named the head coach for of the U.S. Maccabi junior boy's squad. Cooper lead the United States to the World Maccabi Games in Israel in 2009 and a team of 14 and 15 year olds to the Maccabi Pan-American games in Argentina in 2007. Cooper also serves on the Region IV coaching staff.
After serving as an assistant coach for the Saint Mary's men's soccer team for five seasons, Cooper was promoted to head coach as a unanimous choice by the selection committee, players and staff. Cooper officially took over the program on December 29, 2005.
As an assistant at SMC, Cooper was instrumental in the Gaels tying a school-record with nine wins in 2005. Cooper has also stamped his name on some impressive recruiting classes that included, 2003 West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year Matthew Fitzgerald, 2005 Freshman of the Year Michael Clegg and 2004 Second-Team Freshman All-American Brian Mason.
Cooper's coaching experience includes six years as a co-coach of the Los Angeles Maccabi boy's soccer team, which won six straight gold medals in the United States Maccabi Games from 1995-01. He also co-coached the varsity boys soccer team at Calabasas High School from 1999-01, guiding the team to the Frontier League Championship.
Cooper served as the Technical Director for MDSL soccer club from 2003-05, was Diablo FC's Associate Director of Coaching and is currently the Director of Coaching for the Walnut Creek Surf Soccer Club.
Cooper's playing experience includes one year of professional soccer with the Orange County Waves in the Division II A-League where he was the seventh pick in the first round of the 2000 A-League draft. Prior to playing professionally, Cooper was a four-year letter-winner at UCLA, helping the Bruins to the NCAA Championship in 1997 and a Final Four appearance in 1999. During that time he earned Academic All-Conference honors in 1996 and 1999 and completed a bachelor's degree in Sociology