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Jeff AlderHead Men's Soccer Coach
College: Liberty ('91)
Start Date: May 2001
The Liberty men's soccer program has firmly entrenched itself among the elite of the Big South Conference and achieved new heights during Jeff Alder's tenure at his alma mater. In 2001, Alder took over a program which had been a consistent winner, building it into a perennial contender for the Big South Conference title and pushing it to new achievements, as evidenced by the Flames' first Big South Championship and initial NCAA Tournament appearance in 2007. The Flames followed that historic campaign with three more double-digit victory years to post four-straight 10-plus win seasons for the first time since the 1996-99 campaigns.
Alder, a long-time fixture on the Liberty campus, enters his 11th season as the head coach of the Liberty men's soccer program. He spent nine years as an assistant and four seasons as a player for 21-year head coach Bill Bell, before taking over as the program's third head coach in 2001. Alder also spent six years as the Director of Academics for Athletics, giving him more than 25 years on Liberty Mountain.
During his 10 years at the helm of the men's soccer program, the Flames have not only captured their first Big South Conference title, but have recorded a top-three finish in the conference's regular-season standings eight times. Liberty has finished first (2001) in the Big South regular-season standings once, placed second (2003, 2004, 2007) three times and completed conference play third (2002, 2005, 2009, 2010) four times during his tenure. The Flames have also played in the Big South Championship title game three times (2001, 2007, 2009).
Student-athletes under Alder have combined to earn one All-American honor, two Freshman All-American awards, two ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America accolades, 14 all-region recognitions, three Big South Freshman of the Year awards and 43 all-conference selections, including 20 first-team members. In addition, he has seen 10 of his players move on to the professional ranks, with Joshua Boateng being taken in the 2009 Major League Soccer (MLS) Super Draft and four others picked in the MLS Supplemental Draft.
Alder has also been a key factor behind the growing visibility of the Liberty soccer program, both regionally and nationally. For the fourth consecutive year, the Flames were listed among the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) South Atlantic Region poll for several weeks. In 2007, Liberty was ranked every week among the top teams in the poll. In addition, the Flames have traditionally played several highly-ranked programs each season, including 2010, when they tied 2009 NCAA Division I Champion Virginia in Charlottesville.
Off the field, Alder has been a driving force behind the Liberty campus' Thomas Indoor Soccer Center, which opened in the spring of 2009 and is connected to the LaHaye Student Union. He also played an integral part in the new home for both Liberty soccer and the track and field programs, Osborne Stadium and the Luurtsema Center, which was completed in August of 2010.
Last season, Alder's Flames posted a 10-7-1 overall record and finished third in the Big South standings with a 5-3 mark. Liberty finished the year ranked 21st in the nation in scoring offense by averaging 1.94 goals per game and led the Big South Conference in goals allowed, with 0.93 goals per game average.
For the second straight year, forward Darren Amoo achieved NSCAA All-South Atlantic Region status, tying for the Big South lead in goals (12) and points (27). Amoo finished the year ranked sixth in the nation in goals per game (0.75) and 11th in points per game (1.69).
Despite injuries to several key players in 2009, Alder directed Liberty to a 12-5-3 record and an appearance in the Big South Championship title game. The Flames finished the year ranked among the nation's elite on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Liberty finished the year ranked fifth in the country in scoring offense, with a 2.15 goals per game average, and was seventh nationally in team goals against average, with a 0.53 GAA. The Flames also tied the school record with 12 shutouts during the season.
Amoo enjoyed a breakout season under the Liberty alumnus in 2009, leading the Big South with 14 goals and finishing second in scoring with 33 points. The redshirt freshman's point total tied for the fourth-highest by a Liberty player in a single season. At the end of the year, Amoo was named to All-South-Atlantic Region, ECAC All-Star, All-Big South and VaSID first teams. The forward was joined by defenders Chris Mandell and Michael Ward as All-Big South and VaSID first team members. Academically, the Flames received the NSCAA Team Academic Award.
In 2008, Alder guided a young squad to a 10-5-3 mark and a 4-3-1 conference record, finishing the year on the third-longest unbeaten streak in program history at eight games. Liberty pushed eventual Big South Champion Winthrop to a 1-1 tie over two extra sessions in the Big South semifinals, before falling on penalty kicks, 7-6. After the season, the Flames head coach saw Hermann Trophy watch list member and all-conference first teamer, Joshua Boateng become the program's first Division I All-American when he was selected to the 2008 NSCAA/adidas NCAA Division I Men's Soccer All-America team. Later, the midfielder become the first Liberty player ever to be selected in the MLS SuperDraft. Defender Mike Gelatt also became the first Liberty student-athlete to be named to an ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America first team for the second time.
In 2007, Alder saw his squad capture the Big South title and move on to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. The Flames recorded the second-highest win total in school history with a 13-5-2 mark and finished second in the Big South with a 5-1 regular-season ledger.
Defense was one of the keys to Liberty's success, as the Flames posted nine shutouts and held opponents to a 1.07 goals against average. Alder's team outscored opponents 36-22 and allowed only one total goal in seven home games during the season. The Liberty head coach also saw forward Adrian Bumbut, who finished his career among the program's all-time scoring leaders, move on to play professionally. In addition, Gelatt became the program's first ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American.
Alder meshed a team of experienced veterans and several newcomers to post a 9-6 overall mark in 2006, overcoming early injuries to several key players to close the season with five consecutive victories, before falling in overtime in the semifinals of the Big South Championship. He also saw two of his players go on to play professionally and for their country's national team, Trinidad and Tobago, in Darryl Roberts and Osei Telesford. In addition, under Alder's guidance, Roberts finished his career as the school's all-time scoring leader.
In 2005, the Flames lost several key players to injury during the preseason, yet even after a rough start, Alder had Liberty in a position to claim first place in the conference going into the last day of the regular season, as the Flames finished 6-8-2.
The previous season, Alder's team once again overcame several injuries to key players and a tough schedule to finish with a 9-10-2 overall mark and a second-place Big South regular-season finish. Liberty finished second in the Big South with a 4-2-1 record and an 8-9-1 overall ledger under Alder in 2003. He guided the Flames to an 11-8-2 record, including a 4-2-1 mark in Big South play during the 2002 season. Later, Roberts was named the Liberty program's first Freshman All-American.
Despite a 9-10 overall record in his first season in 2001, the team finished the regular season tied for first place in the Big South with a 5-2 league record and reached the title game of the Big South Championship.
As an assistant coach, Alder served as the recruiting coordinator, a role in which he oversaw the recruiting process, including evaluations, home visits and official visits. His other responsibilities included assisting in the preparation, implementation and supervision of daily practice sessions, scouting of opponents, team travel and scheduling.
Alder also spent six years as the Director of Academics for Athletics, supervising the overall athletic academic support program for all of Liberty's student-athletes.
In the fall of 2002, he relinquished those responsibilities to focus all of his time and energy into the men's soccer program.
Alder acquired coaching experience under the direction of Bruce Arena and George Gelnovatch at the University of Virginia Camp of Champions. He also coached at the state and district levels for the Virginia Olympic Development program and served under Gelnovatch as a guest evaluator with the U.S. Under-18 National Team. Alder attended the United States National Team Camp as a guest of coach Bruce Arena, prior to the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.
He holds a NSCAA National Coaching Diploma, a NSCAA Advanced National Diploma with Distinction and a NSCAA Premier Diploma. Alder serves as a site supervisor for the NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament and is a member of the NCAA South Atlantic Regional Advisory Committee. He is also a member of the South Atlantic Rankings Committee.
Alder received his bachelor's degree in business management from Liberty in 1991. While playing at Liberty, he was a four-year starter on the men's soccer team.
In his first season as a Flame, Alder earned the 1987 Most Promising Freshman Award. He was also named all-conference in 1987 and was given the Coaches Award and made the Dean's List in 1989. After posting a 7-10-2 record in his freshman season, the Flames went on to have three straight winning seasons in Alder's final three years on the team. During his senior year, he helped lead the Flames to a 12-2-2 record.
Jeff, his wife Lori, son Chandler (15) and daughter Grayson (9), reside in the Lynchburg area.