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Continuity is an essential part of a successful athletic program and in 15 seasons at the helm of Quinnipiac soccer, head coach Dave Clarke has brought just that.
Now in his 16th season, Clarke has firmly cemented himself as one of the premiere college coaches in the NCAA’s highest division. He effectively etched his signature on Quinnipiac soccer by becoming not only the winningest coach in its history, but leading his team to an NCAA Tournament berth in 2000 and a regular-season championship in 2001. In 15 seasons as a head coach, Clarke has a 138-133-31 overall record, which features a 120-119-28 mark while at Quinnipiac.
Clarke encountered his newest challenge last season when Quinnipiac played its first season in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC). The Bobcats went .500 in conference play (3-3-4) and earned the #7 seed in the MAAC Tournament. Quinnipiac suffered a difficult 1-0 loss in the first round of the tournament, but nonetheless managed to find success in its inaugural season. Two of Quinnipiac’s five ties came against the top two teams in the league, while three players earned All-MAAC honors at the conference banquet. The women’s soccer program also received the National Soccer Coaches Association of American (NSCAA) Team Academic Award for the 2012-13 academic school year – an award that the program has earned with consistency over the last several seasons.
In his final season in the Northeast Conference, Clarke guided Quinnipiac to its most wins since the 2007 season and its highest winning percentage since 2001. The senior-laden Bobcats raced out of the gates and boasted the program’s best-ever start through five games with a 4-0-1 record. Due in large part to its high-octane defensive pressure, Quinnipiac posted four shutouts during the stretch – a stint that included wins over Big East foe Providence, Vermont, Holy Cross and Hartford.
Quinnipiac went 9-6-2 overall and 5-4-1 in the Northeast Conference - making it three out of the last four seasons with a winning record in NEC competition. At the end of the season, Shauna Edwards was recognized by the Northeast Conference and NSCAA for the second straight year. Goalkeeper Jill Kelley also wrapped up a stellar career as she concluded her career with 26 wins and 18 shutouts in Bobcats’ uniform – both ranking her top five all-time in program history.
In addition to his prowess on the field of play, Clarke earned national recognition for his ‘#26 Uniform Auction’ for Sandy Hook that established a scholarship fund in memory of the lives lost in Newtown back in December. Clarke's vision helped to raise more than $30,000 in a month, surpassing its original goal of $25,000. Clarke was named to the 2013 Irish Sports Top 50, which is an award presented by the Irish Voice that recognizes notable Irish figures in sports. The most notable honorees included the likes of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, former University of Connecticut men's basketball head coach Jim Calhoun, New York Mets manager Terry Collins, New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, IMG Worldwide CEO Michael J. Dolan, Los Angeles Galaxy star Robbie Keane, University of Notre Dame football head coach Brian Kelly, New York Giants president and CEO John Mara, professional tennis legend John McEnroe, Miami Heat president Pat Riley and Texas Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan.
Clarke’s 2011 season featured a number of accolades for the Bobcats, despite falling two wins short of another NEC Tournament bid. Under Clarke’s tutelage, Kyla Miles and Shauna Edwards were selected to the NEC All-Conference Second Team, while Jess Lavoie was selected to the NEC All-Rookie Team.
In 2010, Clarke led the Bobcats to a 7-7-4 overall record and 5-2-3 mark in Northeast Conference play. Quinnipiac made its second straight appearance into the NEC Tournament, but was eliminated in penalty kicks in a semifinal match-up against Saint Francis University (Pa.). Furtuna Velaj and Jillian Strassner each received All-Conference honors, while Jen Hartman and Kyla Miles were selected to the 2010 NEC All-Tournament team.
Quinnipiac finished the 2009 season at 7-2-1 in the NEC, making its first appearance to the NEC Tournament since 2004. The Bobcats finished the year at 8-7-2 overall and fell short in the semifinals to Monmouth, 1-0. Jillian Strassner was named NEC Rookie of the Year, while also receiving All-Conference First Team laurels. Furtuna Velaj and Hanne Walleck were also named All-NEC, while Walleck and Kristina Del Mistro were selected to the NEC All-Tournament team.
In the 2008 season, Clarke coached the Bobcats to a 7-7-2 overall record and just narrowly missed the post-season by four points. Clarke brought in standout Furtuna Velaj who led the Northeast Conference in points (31), goals (15) and game-winning goals (7) in just her first season. Velaj was also named to the NEC All-Conference Team at season’s end.
The Bobcats finished both the 2006 and 2007 seasons with 9-7-2 records and Clarke saw five of his players make it onto the NEC All-Conference Team.
Though the Bobcats suffered through an injury-plagued 2005 season while registering a 6-10-3 record, Clarke’s squad still performed academically, earning the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Team Academic Award for exemplary performance in the classroom. The team posted a 3.04 grade point average.
In 2004, the Bobcats finished 8-9-2 with a 5-2-2 mark in the Northeast Conference. Quinnipiac earned the fourth and final spot in the NEC Tournament. The Bobcats were defeated in the semifinals by eventual NEC Champion, Central Connecticut State University. Quinnipiac edged CCSU 1-0 during the regular season. In addition, the Bobcats had the NEC Player and Rookie of the Year in Kirsten van de Ven.
In 2003, the Bobcats just missed out on a NEC tournament bid and closed with a 4-3-2 mark in league action. In 2002, the Bobcats were decimated by injuries, losing several top players for large portions of the season. Nevertheless, the Bobcats were in the hunt for a Northeast Conference playoff spot up until the final weekend of the year. The Bobcats finished the season with a 3-12-1 mark, but were 3-4-1 in Northeast Conference play. In 2001, QU went 12-6 and won the Northeast Conference regular season title. Unfortunately, its hopes for a second straight NCAA tournament bid fell short when Quinnipiac lost in the league tournament semifinals.
Back in 2000, Clarke led Quinnipiac to the Northeast Conference tournament title and a berth in the NCAA tournament. The women’s soccer team was the first of any kind in school history to qualify for the NCAA tournament at the Division I level. Once Quinnipiac reached the NCAA’s, it knocked off Loyola (Md.) by a score of 2-1 in a play-in game. From there, QU lost to Harvard by that same tally in a first round contest. Under Clarke’s guidance, Quinnipiac finished the 2000 season with a 13-7-1 mark. During that off-season, Clarke was selected to the USSF National Instructional Staff, the highest level of coaching and educating in the United States.
In his first season back in 1999, Clarke led Quinnipiac to a 16-5 record and a berth in the Northeast Conference championship game.
Clarke has been recognized for his coaching ability in several levels of play. In September of 2008, Clarke was asked to assist the Irish National Women’s Soccer Team when they played in the “Achieve Your Gold” Tournament hosted by the U.S. Women’s National Team. Clarke worked directly under the head coach, Noel King, with whom he’s had a long-standing relationship in the world of soccer. Clarke’s official role under King was scouting and identification of players. It was Clarke’s first time coaching at that level, and he was able to help out the Irish team for their three matches against the U.S.
Before Quinnipiac, Clarke served as the head women’s soccer coach of the highly-successful University of New Haven program from 1997-99. At UNH, Clarke posted an overall record of 18-14-3 in his two seasons, including an impressive 12-5-1 mark in 1998. As a result, Clarke was named the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) Women’s Soccer Coach of the Year.
Clarke has been extremely active in both men’s and women’s soccer in the state of Connecticut. He is a staff coach for the Connecticut Junior Soccer Association and is a License Instructor for the United States Soccer Federation. Clarke was also a staff coach with both Connecticut and Region I Olympic Development Programs. He holds a USSF ‘A’ License, a National Youth License, the NSCAA Advanced National Diploma and coaching qualifications from Ireland, England and Holland.
Clarke also served as an assistant coach for the Connecticut Wolves A-League Team from 1996-98. Following a successful collegiate playing career at Central Connecticut, Clarke also played six seasons as a professional for the Wolves from 1993 to 1998.
Clarke was also the head boys’ soccer coach at Newington High School from 1994-96, winning two consecutive Central Connecticut Conference titles.
A 1992 graduate of Central Connecticut State University, the Ireland native earned a B.S. in physical education. He served as an assistant coach for the Blue Devils from 1991-93. As an undergraduate, Clarke was a three-year recipient of the CCSU Scholar-Athlete Award (1989, 1990, and 1991).
Clarke recently pursued a master’s degree in Journalism at Quinnipiac. As part of his program, he interned with the US Men’s and Women’s National Team, the New England Revolution of MLS and the Boston Breakers of WPS. He received his degree in May of 2010 and is currently using the qualification to teach a section of Quinnipiac’s freshman seminar series.
Currently, Clarke coaches the Connecticut FC Under-17 ECNL team and the CFC Elite Academy. Overall, Clarke’s teams have won 14 state championships, a USYSA Region I Championship and a USYSA National Championship.
Clarke and his wife Kelly live in Glastonbury with their daughters, Maire, Aine and twins Bridget and Kevin.