Dores building off first NCAA Tournament appearance in more than a decade
Incoming freshman a member of Under-18 U.S. National Team
All five highly-touted players expected to contribute in 2018
She is the team’s first Scholar All-American selection since 2010
She is one of 25 players called up to the training roster
Vanderbilt squares off with Tennessee Tuesday night at the SEC Tournament in Orange Beach, Ala.
The Vanderbilt soccer team takes on Auburn Thursday on Senior Night.
Vanderbilt soccer opened the season versus Tennessee Tech Friday night.
Senior day vs. Ole Miss. Vanderbilt 4, Ole Miss 1. (10/23/16) Photos by Steve Green
The Vanderbilt Soccer team fell to Arkansas 1-0 during quarterfinal play of the SEC Tournament. Photos by Jimmy Mitchell (11/2/16)
Darren Ambrose is in his third season at Vanderbilt after a successful run at the University of Pennsylvania.
Last season, the Commodores went 9-9-1, with their nine victories tying 2016’s slate for a season- best in seven years. With a 5-5-1 SEC record, Vanderbilt earned its second-straight Southeastern Conference Tournament appearance, receiving a bye as the sixth-overall seed, and faced Arkansas in quarterfinal play. VU earned three overtime victories, and one ranked win on the year in a 2-0 shutout at home over No. 14 Texas A&M.
Grace Jackson and Jackie Welch led the Dores in goals with five, while Kaitlyn Fahrner played 14 games in the cage for the black and gold. Fahrner allowed 18 goals with 74 saves to her name.
In his first season with the Vanderbilt women’s soccer team, head coach Darren Ambrose led the Commodores to one of their most successful seasons in recent memory, achieving a team goal of an SEC Tournament appearance and notching their first winning season since 2009.
The team’s nine wins were also the most in six years. Defense set the tone in 2015, as Vanderbilt posted six shutouts for the second straight year and allowed just 23 goals – their fewest since 2006. Ambrose has also kick started a peer-mentoring program with the ‘Dores, connecting alumna with current student-athletes who share similar career goals.
Before reinvigorating the Vanderbilt soccer program, Ambrose spent 15 years at the University of Pennsylvania and departed as the Quaker’s all-time winningest coach.
"I would like to thank Vice Chancellor David Williams and Associate AD Lori Alexander for giving me the opportunity to lead the Vanderbilt women's soccer program to new heights," Ambrose said. "My family and I are excited to become a part of the Vanderbilt community and the values for which it stands. It represents excellence at the highest level academically and athletically which aligns perfectly with my own philosophy."
In 15 years at Penn, Ambrose compiled an impressive record of 148-71-35, including a 54-34-17 mark in the Ivy League. His teams reached the NCAA Tournament three times and won three Ivy League championships. His teams finished in the top three of the Ivy League in 10 of his 15 seasons, including seven of the past eight years.
"We conducted an intensive national search and we are convinced that we have hired one of the best soccer coaches in the NCAA," Williams said. "Darren Ambrose has run a first-class program at Penn for many years. His familiarity with an academic institution, his ability to relate to his student-athletes, his proven record in recruiting and coaching and his character make him an extremely good fit for Vanderbilt. We look forward to working with him as he takes our soccer program to new heights."
Ambrose never had a losing season in his 15 years overseeing the program, as the Quakers averaged nearly 10 wins a year under his watch. He coached the team's first two All-Americans as well as its first NSCAA Scholar All-America, CoSIDA Academic All-America of the Year, Ivy League Player of the Year, Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year and Ivy League Rookies of the Year. In addition, Ambrose was at the helm for all of Penn's Ivy League championships (2001, 2007, 2010), three of its four NCAA Championship berths (2001, 2007, 2010), and an ECAC title in 2000.
Under Ambrose, more than 80 percent of the Penn women's soccer players have graduated with GPAs above 3.0, and Penn is the only Ivy League program to have earned the NSCAA Team Academic Award each of the last 14 years.
Three of the last five seasons, Penn has gone into its final match with an Ivy League championship still a possibility. From 2011-2013, Penn had three women earn first-team All-Ivy each season. That had never happened in the history of the program. Penn's 2013 campaign was one of the best in program history. The Quakers finished the year 12-1-4 overall, setting a program record for fewest losses in a season. Penn also shut out 12 of its 17 opponents and allowed just eight goals all season. The Quakers went 5-1-1 in the Ivy League to finish in second place, and at the end of the season three sophomores -- Caroline Dwyer, Erin Mikolai, and goalkeeper Kalijah Terilli -- were named first-team All-Ivy. Dwyer also was a third-team NSCAA All-America (just the second All-America in program history) and the inaugural Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year.
He took over in 2000, winning 10 games in his first season and leading Penn to a ECAC Championship. The following year, he brought a share of Penn's first-ever Ivy League title to Philadelphia in 2001 with an impressive 13-2-3 season that ended in the NCAA Tournament.
The team won its second Ivy League title - and the program's first outright crown - in 2007 with a 6-1-0 mark in Ivy play, earning the program's first outright Ivy title. The Quakers were 13-4-1, one win shy of the program record, and advanced to the NCAA College Cup first round before losing to James Madison. When the season finished, Penn had six players named All-Ivy, and two earned regional honors from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA).
In 2010, Ambrose led Penn to its second outright Ivy League championship and third overall as the Quakers went to the NCAA Championship for the fourth time in program history, falling to Big Ten champion Penn State. The next year, the Quakers enjoyed a record-setting campaign, going 14-2-1 in 2011 to tie the program record for overall wins and break the mark for winning percentage. In addition, Penn allowed a school-record seven goals and led the nation in shutout percentage.
Ambrose coached a plethora of standout players, including three-time first-team All-Ivy and NSCAA all-region selection Natalie Capuano, and a number of academic honors including NSCAA Scholar All-America -- a first for the program. Capuano, who played for the United States Women's National U-23 Team, was also named a NSCAA Scholar All-America -- a first for the program.
While at Penn, Ambrose took on a variety of roles within the local soccer community. In 2007 he was head coach of Eastern Pennsylvania's Girls' 1989 Olympic Development Program (ODP) team that won the national ODP title. It marked the second time Ambrose has been associated with an ODP national champion, as he assisted the EPYSA's winning U-17 team in March 2002. He has also served as the goalkeeper coach for the WUSA's Philadelphia Charge and as a regional staff coach for Region I ODP.
Before taking over at Penn, Ambrose served as an assistant coach at Florida State University in 1999 under former Penn head coach Patrick Baker. At FSU, he helped Baker produce the 13th-best recruiting class in the nation and saw the team register its best season in the program's then five-year history.
Prior to his stint at FSU, Ambrose spent three years as the women's and men's assistant coach at Rhodes College in Memphis. He was an integral part of the success of programs that had a combined record of 77-33-3, a Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) championship and three other second-place finishes, as well as three NCAA Tournament appearances.
Ambrose began his coaching career at Rhodes as a graduate assistant for both programs from 1993-95. He then went to the University of Connecticut to be the men's assistant coach under legendary head coach Joe Morrone, before returning to Rhodes in the fall of 1996.
Ambrose was active in youth soccer in Memphis. During his two years as head coach of the Memphis FC `81 girls' team, he led them to the 1998 Tennessee state club title. He also directed the team to victory in Europe, where his team was crowned champion in the women's open division of the Dana Cup in Denmark (1998).
Ambrose served as a regional staff coach for the Olympic Development Program in Regions II and III for more than five years. He was also an ODP state staff coach in both Tennessee and Florida.
Ambrose, who holds a United States Soccer Federation (USSF) "A" License and a National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Advanced National Diploma, has also taken an active role in soccer education programs. He served as an instructor for the Tennessee State Soccer Association, and at Rhodes he taught USSF "E" and "D" license courses to Rhodes players who were beginning their coaching careers in the local community. He also had work published in the Tennessee State Soccer Journal and in the English publication "Entering the Field," a sociological look at the growth of soccer in the U.S. (1998). Ambrose is also an instructor for NSCAA goalkeeping courses.
Born near Sheffield, England, Ambrose played soccer with the youth programs of Sheffield United of the English League Championship and Doncaster Rovers of the English League first division. He also represented the English Schools Regional Team before coming to the U.S. for his college career at Division II national power USC-Spartanburg (S.C.).
While in goal for the Rifles, Ambrose garnered some impressive honors, including Adidas National Player of the Year in 1992-93. He was also the first USC-Spartanburg player to be named a GTE Academic All-America, in 1992-93. In 2002, Ambrose was inducted into Spartanburg's Hall of Fame. This balance of academic and athletic achievement is something Ambrose brings to the Penn program on a yearly basis.
Ambrose earned a B.S. in management accounting at USC-Spartanburg and in 1995 completed an M.Ed. in sports administration at the University of Memphis. Ambrose and his wife, Sherry, have two daughters: Madison and Ainsley.
Darren Ambrose Head Coaching Record
University of Pennsylvania (15 years)
Record: 148-71-35 (54-34-17, Ivy League)
2000: 10-8-1, 2-5-0 6th
2001: 13-2-3, 5-1-1 t-1st
2002: 8-6-3, 3-1-3 3rd
2003: 9-5-3, 3-3-1 4th
2004: 9-6-2, 4-2-1 3rd
2005: 8-6-3, 2-3-2 t-5th
2006: 8-5-3, 1-4-2 7th
2007: 13-4-1, 6-1-0 1st
2008: 8-6-3, 2-3-2 5th
2009: 10-4-2, 4-3-0 3rd
2010: 9-7-2, 4-1-2 1st
2011: 14-2-1, 5-1-1 2nd
2012: 9-6-1, 5-2-0 3rd
2013: 12-1-4, 5-1-1 2nd
2014: 8-5-3, 3-3-1 t-3rd
Vanderbilt University (Three years)
Record: 30-23-6 (15-12-5, SEC)
2015: 9-8-4, 4-4-3 7th
2016: 9-9-1, 5-5-1 t-6th
2017: 12-6-1, 6-3-1 t-4th