The architect of four Patriot League championship teams in the last nine years, Brendan Nash returns for his 18th season as head coach and 21st season as a member of the Bucknell men’s soccer program.
Nash was appointed the program’s 13th head coach in 1999 after serving as the assistant coach for three seasons. Nash, who owns the highest winning percentage (.546) in program history and is second on the wins list with 153, has been successful throughout his tenure at Bucknell. The squad has finished at least .500 in the competitive Patriot League in nine of the last 12 seasons under his direction, and in four of the last nine years the team has captured Patriot League championships, with NCAA Tournament first-round wins following two of those titles.
In 2006, the Bison won their first Patriot League Tournament title and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament thanks to an overtime goal that gave it a 1-0 first-round victory at George Mason.
In 2009, Bucknell set program records for wins (17) and shutouts (12) in a season, captured the Patriot League regular-season title, defeated Lafayette and American to win the PL Tournament on its home field, and blanked Princeton 1-0 in the NCAA Tournament. As an encore, the 2010 Bison won the Patriot League crown as the No. 4 seed, knocking off host Colgate and American in the tournament. A 1-0 overtime loss to homestanding Penn ended the team’s run of NCAA first-round success.
The Bison returned to the NCAA Tournament in 2014, this time winning the Patriot League title as the No. 5 seed in the second year of an expanded six-team playoff format. Bucknell blasted No. 4 Lehigh 4-0 in the quarterfinal round of the tournament, then advanced to the final by outlasting Navy in penalty kicks. In the championship match, the Bison defeated top-seeded and host Boston University 3-2 on Sebastiaan Blickman’s dramatic overtime goal.
Bucknell’s success under Nash has not been limited to the championship seasons. In 2014 the Bison won 13 games — second-most in program history — went 8-1-1 on the road and defeated American in a home Patriot League Tournament quarterfinal tilt. In 2008, Bucknell played No. 10 Ohio State to a 1-1 tie and then defeated Penn State 2-0 to claim the team title at the Nittany Lion Classic in September. It was Bucknell’s first win over Penn State since 1975. The Bison repeated the feat with a come-from-behind 2-1 win over No. 15 Penn State in 2010 in State College. In 2002, Nash led the Bison to a then-school-record 13 wins. The next year they won 11 for a two-year win total of 24, which was a school record until the 2008-09 teams combined for 25.
On its way to the 11 wins in 2003, Bucknell went undefeated in Patriot League play to claim its second Patriot League regular-season title and first since 1990. Highlighting the campaign was a 1-0 win over second-ranked Maryland, the highest-ranked team Bucknell has defeated in its history. As a result of the successful season, Nash was named Patriot League Coach of the Year for the second time and NSCAA Mid-Atlantic Coach of Year for the first time. He would earn those honors again in 2009.
During the record-breaking 2002 campaign, Bucknell posted a 13-5-1 record. The team also showed off its defensive skills, tying the previous Bison standard for shutouts in a year with 10. The team posted its second win over a nationally ranked program under Nash’s tutelage, defeating No. 18 Pittsburgh on a penalty kick.
In his first year at the helm of the Orange and Blue, Nash coached his team to the first winning season in six years, posting a 9-7-1 mark in 1999. He followed that impressive debut with a 9-10-2 season in 2000, taking his team to the Patriot League playoffs for the first time in seven years. As a result, Nash was tabbed the Patriot League Coach of the Year.
Nash helped 2010 graduate Conor O’Brien become Bucknell’s first All-American in 33 years as well as a finalist for the Hermann Trophy, given to the national player of the year. Three of his players, O’Brien, Mayowa Alli ‘14 and Michael Lookingland '05, have gone on to play professional soccer after graduating from Bucknell, with O’Brien in 2013 playing for a UEFA Champions League-qualifying Superleague team in Denmark before moving on to a top-flight team in Austria last year. Alli, who won the Christy Mathewson Award as the top senior athlete in the Class of 2014, also began his career in Denmark. Lookingland was drafted by Real Salt Lake in the MLS and then carved out an all-star indoor career with the Baltimore Blast.
O’Brien, Alli, Lookingland and Brendan Burgdorf ‘13 were all named to the 25-man Patriot League 25th Anniversary Team prior to the 2015 season.
Along with on-field success, Nash’s teams have excelled in the classroom. He has coached eight Academic All-Americans: 2001 graduate Ryan Weber, 2005 graduate Jonathan Hemmert, who earned the prestigious award twice, Chris Hennings in 2008, Patrick Selwood in 2009, two-time honoree Joe Meyer (2012, 2013), and current senior Jesse Klug, who earned the honor in 2014. .Additionally, the Bison have earned the NSCAA Team Academic Award every year since 1997.
A 1994 graduate of Trenton State College (now College of New Jersey) with a degree in communications, Nash was hired by Bucknell after acting as assistant coach at his alma mater for three seasons.
While playing for the Lions, Nash appeared in the NCAA Division III national championship in 1991. His senior year concluded by being named the recipient of the John Heslin Award (leadership, commitment and sportsmanship). During his last two seasons as an assistant for the Trenton State squad, Nash helped post a 34-6-5 record for the school, including a 19-2-2 mark in 1994. The Blue and Gold finished third in the nation in Division III that season. Prior to attending TSC, Nash was a member of the men’s soccer team at Longwood College. As a sophomore, he was named First Team All-Conference as well as the Defensive Player of the Year in the conference.
Nash is currently the Director of the Bison Soccer Camps and has also worked numerous other summer camps around the country. He has been instrumental in organizing several youth clinics throughout the Susquehanna Valley. He holds the USSF “B” license and the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Advanced National Diploma. In addition, Nash is the Patriot League representative on the Division I Men’s Soccer College Coaches Committee, and is a member the NSCAA All-America Committee.
Nash hails from Neptune, N.J., and attended high school at Christian Brothers Academy, which is renowned for its perennial soccer talent. In addition to his bachelor’s degree, he received his master’s degree from the College of New Jersey for Sports Administration in 1997.
Both of Nash’s brothers, Jamie and Brian, coach soccer in New Jersey. Jamie is the head coach at Boonton High School, while Brian coaches the boys’ junior varsity soccer team at Marlboro High School.