University of AL - Birmingham

UAB Blazers Athletics
Bartow Arena - 1720 2nd Ave. S Birmingham, AL 35294
Division 1 Alabama Southeast
Public Large National competitor


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Erica Demers

Erica Demers was named the third head coach in UAB women’s soccer history on May 22, 2017 and wasted no time in putting her imprint on a program that saw its win total increase by 11 games in her first season.

Picked to finish last in a preseason poll voted on by the Conference USA head coaches, Demers orchestrated one of the best turnarounds in the NCAA by guiding the Blazers to an 13-4-3 overall record, a 7-2-1 mark in league play and a third-place finish. Demers completely revamped the Blazer offense and made it one of the most formidable units in Conference USA, as the Blazers went from 18 goals scored in 2016 to 39 in 2017 to rank fourth in the league. MidfBioielder Amy Brewer flourished under Demers’ tutelage and was among the league leaders in points (25), goals (10) and assists (5) on her way to earning All-Conference USA First Team accolades. Fellow midfielder Rachel Green also earned a spot on the All-Conference USA First Team after finishing with 17 points on seven goals and three assists.

Demers also helped the Blazers become one of the stingiest defensive teams in Conference USA, finishing her debut season tied for first in the league for the fewest goals allowed. Keeper Kelsey Daugherty paced the league with a 0.76 goals against average, recorded the second-most shutouts in a single season (7) in school history and was tied for third in the league with 95 saves. Daugherty was selected as the Conference USA Goalkeeper of the Week four different times in 2017 and also earned a spot on the All-Conference USA First Team.

Overall, Demers guided UAB to its most wins since 2004 and owns the most single-season victories by a first year head coach in school history.

Demers kept UAB among the top teams in C-USA in her second year, posting 18 points and a third place finish and the Blazers' first back-to-back berths in the C-USA Championship since the 2008 and 2009 seasons. The Blazers also had their first back-to-back winning seasons since 2003 and 2004. Daugherty would go on to become Conference USA Goalkeeper of the Year as well as being named First Team All-Conference, United Soccer Coaches All-South Region First Team and Conference USA All-Academic First Team. She was named Conference USA Goalkeeper of the Week two times while posting six shutouts. Kamilah Mustafa was named to the C-USA Second Team after leading the league in game-winning goals with five.

In 2019, a pair of Blazers were recognized by Conference USA today as the league released their 2019 All-Conference teams. Junior defender Audria Wood and freshman goalkeeper Eve Beyer were named All-Conference Third Team. Beyer was also named to the All-Rookie Team. As a team, UAB was second in C-USA with a goal against average of 1.12, only surrendering 19 goals in 17 matches including seven shutouts.

Demers arrived in Birmingham following three successful seasons as an assistant coach at Iowa under Hawkeye head coach Dave Dilanni. During that time, Demers helped the Hawkeyes to 29 victories, coached three All-Big Ten performers, two all-region selections, and 31 Academic All-Big Ten recipients.

During the 2016 season, Iowa posted an 8-11-0 record with a young team featuring eight freshmen and 12 underclassmen. Freshman Natalie Winters started all 19 games and was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team to become the first Hawkeye to do so since 2013.

Academically, the Hawkeyes thrived, as 16 student-athletes earned Academic All-Big Ten recognition, tying a program record.

In 2015, Demers helped senior Hannah Clark lead the Big Ten in saves (105), saves per game (5.83) and tie for sixth in shutouts (6). Clark ended her career as the winningest goalkeeper in program history (36 victories) and was tops in the record books in career shutouts (26) and third in career saves (321).

The Hawkeyes earned the NSCAA Ethics and Sportsmanship Award and six student-athletes garnered Academic All-Big Ten recognition.

In her first season in Iowa City, Demers guided the Hawkeyes to a 14-7-1 overall record and a 7-5-1 Big Ten mark to notch the program's third top-five league finish since 2011. The seven Big Ten victories tied the program record for Big Ten wins in a single season and the 14 wins were the second-most in school history.

After entering the Big Ten Tournament as the No. 5 seed, Iowa posted victories over No. 23 Rutgers and Northwestern to advance to the tournament championship game for a second straight season. Two seniors -- Cloe Lacasse and Melanie Pickert -- capped their Hawkeye careers with All-Big Ten First Team and All-Region First Team honors. They were the first pair in school history to earn All-Big Ten First Team honors in the same season and the first two players to garner All-Region First Team recognition.

Demers joined the Iowa program after spending nine seasons with DiIanni at Grand Valley State, the final two as associate head coach. She helped the Lakers post a 189-12-17 record, capture three NCAA Division II national titles, win nine-straight GLIAC championships and nine NCAA regional championships.

Under Demers' tutelage, Grand Valley State became one of the best offensive programs in the nation. The team set program scoring records in six-straight seasons, including a school-best 92 goals in 2010.

Demers was instrumental in the development of All-America forward Katy Tafler, who holds the top spot in the Grand Valley record books with 269 points (114 goals, 41 assists) -- a total that ranks third in NCAA history. She also coached five GLIAC Offensive Player of the Year selections.

In addition to her coaching duties, Demers served as the school's recruiting coordinator, camps coordinator and instructor, strength and conditioning coach and fundraising director. She also was instrumental in the team's academic success, as she coached two Academic All-American of the Year honorees, eight Academic All-Americans, one Elite 88 Award winner and more than 40 athletes to GLIAC All-Academic honors during her tenure.

Demers began her coaching career at The Citadel, where she served one season as a graduate assistant.

As a student-athlete, Demers played four years of Division I soccer at Oakland University, where she led the Grizzlies to four straight conference tournament titles and three straight NCAA Tournament appearances. She was a two-time first-team Mid-Continent Conference selection and was Mid-Con Player of the Year in 2002. She ended her career with 55 points on 15 goals and 25 assists.

Demers played for the Canadian U-21 National Team and was part of the Canadian National Championship team in 2000. In 1997-98, she played for the National Training Centre team and was a member of the Ontario Provincial Team for five years.

The Welland, Ontario, Canada, native graduated from Oakland with a bachelor of science in health science in 2004 and earned her master's degree in education from Grand Valley State in 2009.

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John Robertson

John Robertson enters his second season with the Blazers as assistant coach.

In UAB Women’s Soccer’s first ever Spring championship season during 2020-21, Robertson played a pivotal role in a bounce-back year that saw the Blazers double their win tally (8) and total goals scored (33) from 2019, despite playing 2 less games. The green and gold also made its return to the Conference USA championship quarter-final, all whilst navigating through the uncertainty of a world pandemic.

In 2020-21, attacker Lexxe Lipsey led C-USA in points (17), shots (49), tied first for goals (8) and ranked 2nd in shots-per-game (3.27) on her way to earning All-Conference USA Second Team. Midfielder Stella Kiss also earned a spot on the All-Conference USA Second Team after finishing the year with 6 goals. In an exciting offensive unit which saw 9 different players score and 13 register assists, Slovakian freshman forward Laura Zemberyova bagged 11 points and tied 3rd in assists (5) on her way to securing All-Freshman First Team honors.

Robertson heads up the Blazers’ high performance mental skills program, leads the goalkeeping unit and assists in all facets of running the program. In his first year back in Birmingham since volunteering in 2018, Robertson also helped freshman keeper Anika Toth rank 4th in the league in saves (42) and save percentage (0.778), while placing second in minutes played (1061:55).

Robertson spent the 2019 season as assistant coach in an historic, championship-winning campaign with NCAA DII University of Montevallo. The Falcons won the Gulf South Conference Tournament and went to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007 after posting a 14-4-4 record and spending a record 10 consecutive weeks in the regional rankings. He worked closely with defensive stalwarts, Mel Stevens, an All-Region defender, and Hannah Waki, an All-Conference First Team selection. Forward Romee Contreras also picked up All-GSC, D2CCA All-Region, First Team USC All-South honors. In that storied 2019 campaign under Robertson’s tutelage, Sophomore Goalkeeper Annie Mason led the league in overall save percentage (0.894) at the close of GSC play, and ranked 3rd with a 0.74 goals against average. She was named Gulf South Defender of the Week two times while posting five shutouts to double her career tally (10) and got named to the All-Conference Tournament Team for her efforts. The California-native saved her best performance of the year for the GSC Tournament semifinal, posting a career-high 12 saves and forcing three penalty misses in a dramatic shootout against DII powerhouses, West Florida. Montevallo’s success was built on a dynamic attacking philosophy that recorded a program-high 10 regular season conference wins, 50 goals, 18 different players producing at least one point and 14 different goal scorers. The success on and off the field saw him secure United Soccer Coaches' South Region Staff of the Year honors along with head coach Jake Wyman.

Prior to 2019, Robertson volunteered for Blazers Head Coach Erica Demers where he worked primarily with the goalkeepers and defenders. The Blazers secured the third seed in Conference USA regular season play and made it to the tournament quarterfinal. In that 2018 season in the Magic City, he trained Kelsey Daugherty, who would go on to become Conference USA Goalkeeper of the Year as well as being named First Team All-Conference, United Soccer Coaches All-South Region First Team and Conference USA All-Academic First Team. She was named Conference USA Goalkeeper of the Week two times while posting six shutouts and now plays professionally with Djurgårdens IF in the Swedish women’s top flight.

The Fyvie, Scotland, native first joined the Blazers in 2018 after working as the men and women’s assistant coach at his alma-mater, Maryville College (TN), for the 2016 campaign. In another historic campaign, Robertson helped guide the Maryville men to both USA South Conference Regular Season and Conference Tournament glory for the first time in program history, since moving to the conference four years prior. The two trophies and 18 wins secured the Fighting Scots’ first DIII NCAA National Tournament appearance since 2005. Robertson saw All-American forward Caleb Lucas score 21 goals and tally 10 assists in just 21 games. Lucas led the conference in goals (14) and points (52) in the league campaign. Fellow senior Timmy Baker also broke the Maryville All-Time record for assists in a single season (16). Robertson also worked with a young Lady Scots side who led the conference in clean sheets, with 9 in 14 league games on their way to a double-digit win season and a Conference Tournament semi-final run.

A former four-year lettermen with the Fighting Scots himself, Robertson played in defense for a team that was rated as high as 14th in the nation. During his collegiate career, he won three Great South Athletic Conference regular season and conference tournament championships. In 2011, he was named to the Great South Atlantic All-Conference team and voted Team Defensive MVP, and, in his 2012 senior year, Robertson captained his side as the Scots transitioned to the USA South, and he was again an All-Conference selection, the Overall Team MVP, as well as an All-Conference Academic Team and All-Region Team scholar.

Robertson earned a bachelor's degree from Maryville in English Literature with a minor in writing communications in 2013.

After college, Robertson returned home for two years to study and continued to play for Maud Juniors in the Scottish minor leagues, completing his Masters in Journalism from Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University. He worked as a lead news reporter for daily newspaper, The Press & Journal — serving a readership of 70,000 per day, covering two thirds of Scotland. Then, 2015 saw him travel and work in South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, where he continued his soccer career in Perth, WA, until coaching brought him back to the States.

In 2017, Robertson began his formal coaching education with The FA Level 1 & Level 2 badges in Manchester, England, as well as his FA Goalkeeping Level 1, before transitioning back to the USA to move permanently to Alabama with his wife, Rachel.

He has continued to coach youth soccer locally during his time in Birmingham and is currently on staff for both Alabama ODP and South Region, as well as coaching at Alabama FC and leading Goalkeeping for Hoover SC.

He holds his USSF C License, and a United Soccer Coaches Level 1 in Goalkeeper coaching.

During 2020, Robertson also completed former Manchester United and England coach Eric Steele’s inaugural GK Nexus Coaching Mentorship program.

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Rachael Collins

Rachel Collins joined the UAB Women's Soccer staff in July 2021.

Collins comes to the Magic City after spending the past two seasons at Alabama as a volunteer assistant coach. While in Tuscaloosa, she coached five All-SEC performers, including Reyna Reyes who played on the Mexican Senior National Team and was named to the United Soccer Coaches' All-Southeast Region Third Team.

Prior to Alabama, she served as an assistant coach for two seasons at UC Davis. In her time with the Aggies, she coached four All-Big West players. Among them was Alexis Smith who is UC Davis' all-time leader in shutouts and saves.

As a player, Collins attended Pepperdine University (2013-17) and played a key role in the Waves' on-field success after earning a spot in the starting lineup during her freshman season and maintaining it throughout her college career. Her two-way play as a midfielder led Pepperdine to multiple NCAA Tournament appearances, including a Sweet 16 berth during the 2014 season.

Pepperdine selected Collins as a Maurice Hilliard Award recipient, received annually by a student-athlete that exemplifies the attributes of Christian faith, character and leadership. Collins also earned West Coast Conference Commissioner's Honor Roll, WCC All-Academic Honorable Mention and Scholar-Athlete accolades throughout her undergraduate career.

Collins has a USSF D license.

She earned her Bachelor of Science in Sports Medicine from Pepperdine in 2017 and is pursuing her master's in sports administration from Alabama.

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Alex Latorre

Alex Latorre joined the UAB women's soccer staff in July 2021.

In addition to working with the Blazers, Latorre is the Coaching Director at Hoover Soccer Club for U 13’s to U’ 19’s .

Prior to landing in Birmingham, Latorre was the head men's coach at York College in York, Neb. for four seasons and the women's coach for one season.

In his time with the Panthers, he led the men's team to 34 victories and had an impressive eight match turnaround, taking the team from five wins in 2017 to 13 in 2019. The 13 victories in 2019 was the most for the program since joining the NAIA. That same season, York also advanced to the semifinals of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) for the first time in school history.

On the women's side, Latorre led the Panthers to an upset victory over the first place team in the KCAC, Friends College. Under his guide, Breanna Bembenek was named KCAC All-Conference Second Team.

Latorre was also an assistant coach with Southwestern Oklahoma State on the women's side (2009-10) as well as Oklahoma Christian, serving both the men's and women's teams (2004-06).

He played collegiately at Oklahoma Christian, where he captioned the Eagles to their best record in school history at 17-4-1 during his senior season in 2001.

After his sophomore season with the club, he was drafted by the Kansas City Attack, an indoor team in the National Professional Soccer League. Following his time at OC, he played for the Minnesota Thunder of the USL First Division.

A native of Bauru, Brazil, Latorre resides in Birmingham.

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