There will be a new head coach roaming the sidelines for the Saint Mary’s University women’s soccer team this spring.
New as the Cardinals’ head coach, but not new to Saint Mary’s.
Saint Mary’s athletic director Brian Sisson announced on Friday that Nick Rizzo — the current women’s soccer head coach at Monmouth College and a former men’s and women’s assistant at Saint Mary’s — has been named the seventh head coach in the 38-year history of the women’s soccer program.
“We are thrilled to welcome Nick back to Saint Mary’s — and to help lead our women’s soccer program to new heights,” said Sisson. “He is one of the great young head coaches out there who has proven he can build a program and take it to national prominence.
“I can’t wait to have him connect with our student-athletes, our women’s soccer alumni, and the Winona and Saint Mary’s communities,” Sisson added. “I welcome Nick and his fiance Kelly to the Cardinal family.”
Prior to accepting the position at Saint Mary’s, Rizzo spent the last four as the head women’s soccer coach at Monmouth College in Monmouth, Ill. During his four years with the Fighting Scots, Rizzo compiled a 41-30-5 record — including a Midwest Conference Tournament title and an NCAA national tournament appearance in 2019.
“I am incredibly excited to be back at Saint Mary’s with its wonderful campus, beautiful town, and amazing school,” said Rizzo. “I am also elated to be coaching in the MIAC — one of the toughest Division III conferences in the nation.
“I believe that this team has tremendous potential and has the ability to become an elite team in both the MIAC and the region.”
After going 7-9-2 in his inaugural season at the helm at Monmouth in 2016, the Fighting Scots recorded an 11-8-1 mark in 2017, earning Rizzo the first of two Midwest Conference Coach of the Year honors.
Monmouth compiled a 9-8-0 record in Rizzo’s third season, before setting a school-record with 14 wins in going 14-5-2 during their national-tournament run in 2019 — a march that earned Rizzo his second NWC Coach of the Year honor.
Under his tutelage, the Fighting Scots have boasted nine all-MWC selections, three all-region picks, two MWC Newcomers of the Year and one MWC Offensive MVP, while also garnering four United Soccer Coaches Team Academic Awards and boasting a cumulative team GPA of 3.38.
Prior to his tenure at Monmouth, Rizzo spent three years as the assistant soccer coach for both the men’s and women’s programs at Saint Mary’s. Rizzo has also spent time as an assistant coach at both Aurora and Loras.
As a student-athlete, Rizzo was a four-year starter and three-time all-conference selection at Loras College, helping the Duhawks to four NCAA tournaments. Rizzo earned an undergraduate degree in education and mathematics from Loras and completed his master’s degree in business administration at Aurora.
What Others Are Saying About Coach Rizzo:
• “This is a tremendous addition for Saint Mary’s. Nick is an amazing person, recruiter, and coach. He understands what is needed to be competitive in a tough conference, and I can’t wait to see the ascension of Saint Mary’s in the MIAC. He is passionate about his role in developing women’s soccer players to be amazing human beings and productive women in our society. I see Nick and Kelly fitting the culture of Saint Mary’s University and the Winona community.” — Dawn Crow, head women’s soccer coach, UW-Stevens Point.
• “What Saint Mary’s is getting in coach Rizzo is truly one of the great young coaches in our game. He knows how to turn a program around and I expect he will do the same with the Cardinals” — TR Bell, head women’s soccer coach, Lake Forest College
• “I’m excited for Saint Mary’s with the hiring of Nick Rizzo. Nick is a proven winner and a great soccer mind, who has a knack for getting the most out of his players. He is not only a great coach, but an excellent recruiter and one of the most connected young coaches in the NCAA. I’m excited to see his teams compete in the MIAC.” — Dan Rothert, president and founder of Top Student-Athlete Recruiting and former men’s coach, Loras College