The 2021 season marks the 22nd in the head coaching career of P.J. Gondek. Beginning in 2000, Gondek's holds the most wins in the history of the men's soccer program.
Post-season play during this time period includes two trips to the NCAA tournament, three to the ECAC tournament and nine SUNYAC playoff appearances including eight to conference semifinals.
Four seasons during his tenure stand among the finest in program history.
For sheer drama, the 2005 season will forever rank near the top of any Blue Devil all-time list. Following a penalty kick shootout loss to Brockport in the SUNYAC semifinal game, the Blue Devils were awarded an NCAA at-large bid -- the start of an improbable run on the strength of three straight overtime wins. First came a 4-3 victory over Carnegie Melon at the John Carroll Regional, then a 1-0 win over regional host John Carroll. Next up was another Regional host, Calvin College, in snowy Grand Rapids, Mich. The teams play scoreless soccer through two overtimes before the Blue Devils claimed a 3-2 victory in penalty kicks and advance to the national quarterfinals, where they fell 2-0 to eventual NCAA finalist Gustavus Adolphus. The Blue Devils finished with a 17-4-4 record, the third time the men have reached the 17-win plateau. At the conclusion of the tournament Fredonia State was ranked No. 15 in the final regular season poll.
Despite losing the SUNYAC championship game in 2006, that season also will be remembered for another penalty-kick victory. It came in the 2006 ECAC Upstate New York championship game against host Oneonta (which was playing its first season at the NCAA Division III level after several seasons as a Division I team). The Blue Devils outperformed the Red Dragons in the PK-round, 3-0, to reclaim the ECAC Upstate title for the first time since 1999.
The 2007 season saw the Blue Devils post a 9-1-1 SUNYAC regular season record and 12-7-2 overall mark, earning conference tournament's top seed and a first-round bye. The Blue Devils edged Cortland 1-0 in the semifinals and moved on to meet Plattsburgh for the title, the Blue Devils' second straight SUNYAC championship game appearance and the fourth during Gondek's nine-year tenure. The Blue Devils and Cardinals battled to a scoreless tie after 110 minutes. Fredonia then claimed the SUNYAC title with a 4-2 advantage in the penalty-kick round and earned an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. But unlike their phenomenal NCAA run two years prior, the Blue Devils were ousted by Hobart, 3-0, in the University of Rochester Regional. SUNYAC awards rained down nonetheless. Gondek was named 2007 SUNYAC Coach of the Year while six players were chosen to the All SUNYAC Team.
Added to his seasons of success was 2016. With an 11-7-2 mark compared to 3-12-3 the previous year, the Blue Devils improved by 6.5 wins -- the largest single-season improvement in program history and tied for fourth best among 2016 NCAA Division III teams.
Gondek played collegiately at Cortland State, where he earned a bachelor's degree and master's degree in physical education in 1993. After receiving his college degree, he was hired as boys' head soccer coach at Seton Catholic High School in Plattsburgh, N.Y., where he inherited a team that had been below .500 the season before he took over. In 1995, Gondek guided Seton Catholic in the New York State Class B quarterfinals.
He then returned to Cortland State to complete a master's degree in physical education which led to a position as the men's assistant soccer coach at Cortland starting in the spring of 1999. He then returned to Plattsburgh -- this time as an assistant coach of the Plattsburgh State Cardinals -- and was on the coaching staff when the Cardinals won the 1999 SUNYAC championship and advanced into the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Gondek has received coaching licenses from two organizations. He also holds a prestigious A license from the United States Soccer Federation and an Advanced National Diploma from the National Soccer Coaches of America. Most recently he has acquired a National Youth License form US Soccer and served in many capacities for the New York West Youth Soccer Association, including 10 years on the staff of the New York State Olympic Development Program.
In addition to his coaching duties, Gondek serves as assistant director of athletics in the Department of Athletics and Recreation, serves as technical director for the local Northern Chautauqua Soccer Association, and teaches classes in the Fredonia State Department of Sport Management and Exercise Science. He resides in Fredonia with his wife, Alison, the director of guidance at Silver Creek Central School, and their daughter Annie, a high school soccer player at Fredonia High School and a premier club player for the Western N.Y. Flash Academy.