Nick Roberts, the 2016 MEC Coach of the Year, will enter his 12th season leading the Urbana men’s soccer program in 2019. Roberts carries over 20 years of coaching experience and he is currently the longest tenured head coach at Urbana University.
Roberts helped guide the school's transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II in 2010 while building the UU men’s soccer program into a national contender. Since joining the Mountain East Conference in 2013, Roberts has guided the Blue Knights to a 43-23-7 regular-season record against conference opponents. In that same time span, Roberts has recorded a 30-17-4 record in home games played at UU Stadium.
Numerous players have received post-season honors, highlighted by the program's first All-American, Lewis Dunne (2016), and the team's first Academic All-American, Thibaut Bourrier (2017).
Last fall, Roberts led a young squad featuring five freshmen starters to the team's fourth straight conference tournament appearance. Urbana finished the campaign with an overall record of 8-7-1 (7-4-3 MEC) including a scoreless draw against fifth-ranked Charleston.
In 2017, despite returning only four players from a large graduating class, the Blue Knights compiled a credible 10-7-1 record and third-place finish in the MEC. The team opened the season ranked No. 12 in the country in the United Soccer Coaches NCAA D II preseason poll, its highest preseason ranking ever.
The 2016 season was one to remember for the Blue Knight men's soccer program.
UU advanced to the Atlantic Region Final (sweet 16) for the second straight year, made the first appearance in the Mountain East Conference Championship game, hosted the first-ever NCAA postseason event on UU's campus, and featured the first All-American in program history (Lewis Dunne).
Also, the Blue Knights (14-5-1, 9-3 MEC) finished 13th in the final 2016 NSCAA Division II rankings. UU received votes in 10 of the 12 weekly polls while appearing 12th in Week 2 - a new school record. UU has now been ranked among the nation's elite programs in 18 of the previous 20 NSCAA polls, dating back to the 2015 season.
Under Roberts, UU tied the school record for most wins (14) and outscored opponents 48-17 while averaging nearly three goals per match. Team records set in 2016 include: wins (14 - tied), highest winning percentage (.700 - tied), fewest goals allowed (17) and lowest goals-against average (0.83).
Individually, there were eight Blue Knights to earn All-MEC honors led by Nathan Jones (Defensive Player of the Year) and Raphael Northoff (Freshman of the Year). Jones, a four-year starter at keeper, ended his career as the team's leader in career GAA (1.00), season GAA (0.64), career shutouts (25), season shutouts (nine), highest season save percentage (.850), and most games played in goal (73).
UU continued its tradition of success in the classroom, as well, with 19 of 21 players recognized on the All-MEC Fall Academic Teams.
In 2015, the Urbana men’s soccer team built the finest season in school history under its veteran coach, highlighted by the school’s first-ever NCAA Tournament berth (any sport) and NCAA Second-Round victory at Millersville (1-0). The Blue Knights went on to face MEC-rival Charleston in the Atlantic Region Final, where they fell 1-0 on a late goal, and closed the season ranked 16th in the country.
The historic campaign included the first-ever NCAA national ranking for any sport at UU on September 29. The Blue Knights remained in the national and regional rankings the rest of the season, while closing out the year ranked 16th in NCAA Division II. Ultimately, the Blue Knights finished one win shy of the school record with an overall ledger of 13-5-2, and finished second in the MEC regular season standings with a league record of 8-3-1.
During his tenure at UU, Roberts has mentored numerous all-region and all-conference players. In 2015, a school-record five players earned All-Atlantic Region honors (Nathan Jones, Ben Fitzpatrick, Lewis Dunne, Aaron Burt, and Raoui Lassoued). In addition, eight Blue Knights were named All-MEC performers in 2015.
Following his philosophy of competing at the highest levels both on and off the pitch, the 2015 squad also made history in the classroom. A total of 14 men’s soccer student-athletes landed on the 2015 AD’s Fall Honor Roll (3.25+ GPA), continuing the impressive trend of teams that have maintained a 3.0 or higher GPA under Roberts. Additionally, senior Michael McFarlane was voted to the 2015 College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District Men's Soccer First Team.
After four years of building the program, the results began paying off for Roberts and the Blue Knights in 2012 with the first league title in program history as a member of the Great Midwest Athletic Conference. Roberts was tabbed the GMAC Coach of the Year after UU finished 10-7-1.
Roberts has a long history in coaching and has been actively involved with coaching youth, ODP and directing youth programs in Ohio and California since 1994.
From 2002 to 2006, Roberts served as Director of Coaching and Player Development for Santa Rosa United, a 40-team youth soccer club in Santa Rosa, California. SRU won two national youth soccer titles under the direction of Roberts, a feat the organization had never accomplished before. He also served on the Santa Rosa Board of Directors, and the Sonoma Soccer Complex Board of Directors, which were the driving forces in raising $1.5 million to build the new soccer complex for Santa Rosa United.
Today, Roberts continues to serve as an educator as the Director of Coaching for the Springfield Thunder Soccer Club. He plans curriculum, provides player and coaches with training and education, and advises on the board for development of the club. Roberts formerly coached at Classic Eagles Soccer Club in Columbus, Ohio, where he won the state championship in 2012.
Roberts has also coached at the highest level of soccer, serving a four-year appointment (1997-2001) as an assistant coach and head scout for the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer (MLS). There, he was mentored by Tom Fitzgerald, who is one of only a few coaches to win NCAA Championships at the Division I (UCLA) and Division II (University of Tampa) levels.
While working as a member of two East Coast Conference finalist teams with the Crew, Roberts was held responsible for assisting with player development. Many of those players went on to represent their respective countries in international play, including five players on the 1998 USA World Cup squad.
From 1994 to 1997, Roberts was a player/head coach in the United Soccer League (USL) for the Columbus club, where he was named to the USL National All-Star team as a coach in 1996. The All-Star game was played in Dublin, Ohio against the Shamrock Rovers, a famed Irish professional team.
His extensive playing background also includes time spent at the high amateur levels in England. He played at the youth and senior levels with Witton Albion FC, Winnington Park FC and Knutsford Town in the highly competitive Cheshire League.
While growing up in England, Roberts completed the English Football Association Preliminary Coaching license at the age of 19. He directed and coached at one of the England FA coaching centers in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire in 1988.
He went on to play collegiately at Mercyhurst University, where he was a four-year starter from 1989 to 1993. He earned all-conference honors with the Lakers and completed his degree in business marketing. After graduation, he completed his coaching education with the U.S. Soccer Federation National ‘A’ license in 1997. He also attained the National Soccer Coaches of America Premier Coaching Diploma in 2009.
Coach Roberts resides in Columbus with his wife, Kori, and their three children.