Dr. Eric Johnson
Dr. Eric Johnson, the all-time winningest men’s soccer coach in Summit League history, expanded his head coaching duties at Western Illinois University in 2016. Director of Athletics Matt Tanney announced that Johnson agreed to take over as Director of the Soccer programs and serve as the head coach for both the men’s and, in 2016, the women’s team.
In his 20 years as head coach of the Leatherneck men’s team, Johnson owns a 165-189-36 record and taken six of his last 13 teams to the NCAA Division I Tournament. Western has won four regular season conference titles, six conference tournament titles and made eight appearances in the tournament championship match. Overall in his 25 years as a head coach, he owns a 208-242-40 record on the men’s side.
This past season, the Leathernecks secured their sixth-consecutive Summit League Tournament appearance and saw four All-Summit League honorees in Jacob Bevan (First Team), Ben Fiddes and Fernando Pacheco (Second Team) and Daniel Collins (All-Newcomer Team). Bevan led The Summit League with nine goals and 23 points during the regular season, and the team finished third in the league standings. Pacheco also earned All-League Academic honors under his coaching. The team secured a spot in the league tournament with a 3-3 overall record with wins over IUPUI (2-0), Oral Roberts (4-0) and Fort Wayne (4-1). The Leathernecks closed out the season with an 8-10-1 mark for 2016.
On the women’s side, Johnson doubled the team’s wins from the previous year in his first season at the helm of the program. The women gained Summit League wins over South Dakota (1-0) and Omaha (1-0) and reduced their goals-allowed from 40 to 24 in the 2016 campaign. His team also saw Emily Bollman earn Summit League Player of the Week Honors for Feb. 26 for her game-winning overtime goal against Missouri State.
2015 saw Johnson lead the Leathernecks to their fifth-straight Summit League Tournament appearance. Johnson coached Summit League Offensive Player of the Year, Drew Whalen, as well as a pair of Second Team All-Summit League honorees (Austin Gochneaur, Erick Bloom). The 2015 squad finished the season with the league’s highest-scoring offense, as Western led The Summit League in both goals (28) and assists (26). Western qualified for the tournament with a 3-3 league mark, with victories over Omaha (2-1), IUPUI (2-1), and Eastern Illinois (6-0). A defeat to top-seeded Denver in the opening round of the tournament ended the season for Western, who closed 2015 with a 6-11-1 mark,
In 2014 Coach Johnson and the men's soccer Purple and Gold jumped out to an early lead in Summit League play. Wins over Fort Wayne (1-0), Omaha (1-0), and Eastern Illinois (1-0) helped the Leathernecks to a 3-0-1 record while also posting a six-game shutout streak and eight-game unbeated streak. However, Western ended the season with back-to-back losses to Oral Roberts and Denver, dropping WIU into a four-way tie for first place. In The Summit League Tournament the Leathernecks defeated Oral Roberts 2-1 to advance to the championship game for the fourth straight year. A 3-1 loss to Denver in the final ended the 2014 season. Coach Johnson finished the year with an overall record of 9-7-3 and Summit League record of 3-2-1.
There were seven Leathernecks named to All-Summit League teams in 2014. Mario Alvarez, Charlie Bales, Erick Bloom, and Yves Dietrich all earned first team honors. Austin Gochneaur was named second team while Jacob Bjornsen and Alejandro Pacheco were named all-newcomer. Charlie Bales garnered his second Defensive Player of the Year award while Yves Dietrich became Western's first Goalkeeper of the year.
The 2013 season found Coach Johnson and the Leathernecks fighting for a conference tournament bid after a slow start to the season. Late league wins against Fort Wayne and IUPUI earned Johnson's Leathernecks the fourth and final seed for the tournament. The Purple and Gold won their first round game 3-1 over second seeded Oral Roberts, advancing to the championship game for the seventh time in 10 years A 1-0 loss to top-seeded Denver in the tournament final ended Johnson's 2013 campaign with an overall record of 6-13 and Summit League record of 3-3.
The 2013 Leathernecks featured three All-Summit League selections in Husref Jupic (First Team), Erick Bloom (Second Team), and Diego Lopez (Second Team). Lopez was also named to the All-Newcomer team while goalie Yves Dietrich was named to the Academic All-Summit League team.
In 2012, Johnson helped the Leathernecks rebound from a slow start, finishing the last five games 4-0-1 in the regular season and conference tournament to win their second straight Summit League crown with a 7-9-5 overall mark. He guided Charlie Bales and Nathan Bruinsma to All-Summit League and All-Region selections, while Aaron Appel was also named All-Conference. Bruinsma was also named Summit League Tournament MVP, as Western went on to the NCAA Tournament, falling by a single goal to Northwestern.
Coach Johnson and the 2011 Leathernecks earned both The Summit League Regular Season Championship crown and entered as the top-seed in the conference tournament after finishing league play with a 4-2 record. The Leathernecks then earned back-to-back victories in The Summit League Tournament versus Oakland and Oral Roberts, capturing the league tournament crown and an NCAA tournament berth for the fifth time in program history.
The team finished 14-8-1 overall, and earned 10 wins in their final 13 games. Dr. Johnson earned his fourth 'Coach of the Year' award, while the Leathernecks boasted seven all-league honors. Sophomore Charlie Bales became the second Leatherneck ever to be named Summit League 'Defensive Player of the Year', and fifth Leatherneck to ever be named Summit League 'Player of the Year', offensive or defensive. Along with Bales, senior goalkeeper Andy Ryan and senior midfielder Alexis Dominguez were named All-Summit League First Team, while senior midfielder Mariano Leo, junior forward Nathan Bruinsma, and junior midfielder Husref Jupic earned second team honors.
During the 2010 campaign, Johnson's team stayed in contention for a Summit League Tournament berth until the last day of the regular-season. The Leathernecks upset league-leader UMKC on the final day of the season, but were left out of the league tournament after battling through significant injuries to post a 4-8-6 record including a 2-2-2 mark in league play.
Johnson coached four players to All-Summit honors in 2010 including Second Team All-League selections in Kooten Johnson, Mariano Leo and Andy Ryan. Leo also earned a spot on the All-Newcomer team along with teammate Charlie Bales. In addition to the accomplishments of those players, Johnson also saw one of his former players succeed at the professional level as Kosuke Kimura helped lead the Colorado Rapids to their first-ever MLS title.
In addition to Kimura's success in the professional ranks, Johnson also saw another player sign a professional contract following the 2010 season when Oskar Gasecki inked a three-year deal with Borussia Dortmund of the German league Bundesliga. Gasecki became the third Leatherneck to sign a professional contract during Johnson's tenure.
In 2009, Johnson led the Leathernecks to their fourth Summit League Tournament title since 2004 and an automatic berth in the NCAA College Cup. The team finished the season with an 8-10-2 overall record and a 3-2-1 record in The Summit League, good for a second place regular-season finish. The 2009 season also saw two more of Johnson's players etch their name into the record books. Stephen Paterson broke the school record for career shutouts (23) and Martin Browne, Jr. moved into ninth place on the school's career scoring list with 64 career points.
In 2008, Johnson’s squad posted a 12-5-3 overall record and a 3-2-1 Summit League record, finishing the season second in the conference standings. The Leatherneck defense continued its tradition of excellence as they had one of the best defenses in the country, ranking nationally with a team goals against average of .660 (15th), a win-loss percentage of .675 (27th) and a shutout percentage of .400 (48th).
In addition to the defense ranking nationally, goalkeeper Stephen Paterson broke the school record for best goals against average in a season by posting a 0.76 GAA.
The 2008 team finished the season with a number of player accolades that included two NSCAA/Adidas All-Midwest Region Team selections and five all-conference honorees.
At the conclusion of the 2008 season, Johnson had the second player in his tenure sign a professional contract in defender Nikola Katic as he signed a contract with the United Soccer League’s Pittsburgh Riverhounds, joining former Leatherneck player Kosuke Kimura of the Colorado Rapids as former Western Illinois players who have played professional.
The 2007 season saw Johnson’s squad bring home two tournament titles. The first came on the opening weekend of the season at the Broyhill Inn and Conference Center Appalachian Classic. Western defeated Appalachian State 2-1 and Georgia Southern 1-0. That title was matched the following weekend in the Comfort Inn/Diadora tournament at Missouri State. The Leathernecks grabbed a 1-0 victory over Drake before playing host-Missouri State to a 1-1 tie.
Nine of 20 games in the 2007 campaign for Johnson were decided by one goal, while another three ended in ties.
Twice he nearly had his squad upset ranked opponents, earning a 1-1 tie at No. 10 Creighton while falling 2-1 at No. 12 Northwestern.
In 2006, he earned his third Mid-Continent Conference Coach of the Year award after leading his team to its first regular season title since 2000, and first outright conference championship since 1995. Johnson has guided the Leathernecks to thee consecutive NCAA Tournament berths and Mid-Con Tournament Championships.
That year, Western Illinois won the Mid-Con Tournament as the No. 1 seed. The Leathernecks defeated IUPUI 1-0 in the semifinals and were victorious over UMKC by a score of 2-0 in the Championship match. That win tied the record for wins (15) in a season at Western set by the 1995 squad under the guidance of legendary coach John MacKenzie. Western also became the first team in league history to record three titles and three straight titles.
Western Illinois finished as the seventh ranked scoring offense in the country with 2.48 goals per game.
Johnson led six players to First Team All-Mid-Con honors with two more players bringing home Second Team All-Mid-Con hardware, as well as two All-Newcomer team members.
Western swept the individual Mid-Con awards in 2006 as Martin Browne was named Newcomer of the Year, Matt Wieclaw was given the Offensive Player of the year honor, and Stephen Paterson was awarded Defensive Player of the Year, all to go along with Johnson’s Coach of the Year award.
In 2005, Western Illinois won the Mid-Con Tournament as the No. 3 seed for the second straight year, defeating No. 2 Oral Roberts 1-1 (4-3 PKs) and No. 1 Oakland 4-3 in overtime.
The Leathernecks finished the season with a record of 6-10-4 and had a conference mark of 3-1-2.
In 2004, Western Illinois finished third in the Mid-Con regular season standings with a 3-3-0 conference mark and 11-10-0 overall record.
The Leathernecks collected two shutouts en-route to winning the 2004 Mid-Con Tournament, defeating No. 2 seed Oakland, 1-0 in the semifinals and No. 1 seeded Oral Roberts, 4-0 in the finals.
Johnson's teams have historically been strong at home, posting a 16-match home unbeaten streak, which stretched over a two-year span from Oct. 2002-Oct. 2004.
His 2004 and 2005 squads each placed four players on the Mid-Con all-conference teams. In 2004, Luke Greenwell, Nowaf Jaman and Kosuke Kimura were on the first team, while Matt Wieclaw was named to the second team. In 2004, Andy Swentik and Jaman were named to the first team, while Lorenzo Zignago and Elton Fernandes were named to the second team. Jaman became Johnson’s first Mid-Con Tournament MVP product in 2004, while Nick Bohnenkamp became the second player to receive the honor under Johnson’s leadership in 2005.
In 2003, Johnson led a soccer program that tied two school records: it allowed only five goals at home and posted four consecutive home shutouts. The previous marks were set in 1986.
In 2000, Johnson coached both the Mid-Con Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year in Troy Markin and Justin Langan, respectively. Under Johnson’s tutelage, Langan was a first-team Mid-Con All-Conference selection from 2000-03 and is currently ranked third in school history in points (87) and fifth in goals (33). Johnson has had 29 student-athletes named to the Mid-Con All-Conference teams. Langan was also honored as a CoSIDA Academic All-American in 2003; the first player to be recognized for this distinctive honor under Johnson. Langan was also awarded the Mid-Con Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award during the 2003-04 academic year.
Prior to coming to Western Illinois in 1997, Johnson spent five years coaching both men’s and women’s soccer, along with men’s tennis at Loras College. While at Loras, he was named the 1996 Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year.
Before joining the staff at Loras, Johnson worked at the high school level in Florida at the Fort Lauderdale Christian School, where he was the athletic director and the coach of the boys’ soccer and basketball teams. His soccer team compiled a 19-0-3 record in 1989 and claimed the Class A Florida State Championship.
The Denver, Colo., native earned his bachelor of arts degree in physical education from Calvin College in 1980 where he was an All-Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association selection. He earned his master’s degree in physical education from Florida Atlantic University in 1985 and his doctorate in sports administration from the University of New Mexico in 1995.
Johnson was a USYSA Region II staff coach for the Olympic Development Program and the assistant coach for the Boys’ ODP ‘92 Regional Team.