AZUSA, Calif.-- He’s accomplished a lot throughout his prolific career, but for the first time in his 14 seasons at the helm of the Azusa Pacific women’s soccer program Jason Surrell was named the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) national Coach of the Year.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to work at a great place like Azusa Pacific,” said head coach Jason Surrell. “I’ve had great players throughout my career, and have been surrounded by a great coaching staff. I’ve been blessed to have coaches that support each other and are in it for the right reasons. Scott Mocabee, Shannon Jenkins, Tim Kuhn, and Molly Lavin all have servant’s hearts and want the best for our players. Our eternal perspective is always the big picture, and as much as we all like soccer, we enjoy walking through life with these players.”
In 2013 Surrell clinched his first national championship as a head coach, guiding the Cougars to the National Christian College Athletics Association title, earning him the NCCAA Coach of the Year honor, the first national Coach of the Year award in program history.
Surrell led Azusa Pacific to its first Pacific West Conference championship in only the team’s second season, and after a 16-3-1 season, has now won 10 conference titles (nine as a member of the NAIA’s Golden State Athletic Conference) as the Cougars’ head coach. And while the seven-time conference coach of the year has experienced unparalleled success in his time at Azusa Pacific, his 2013 campaign may have been the finest of his illustrious career.
A former player for the Azusa Pacific men’s soccer program, Surrell took a team that featured 16 new players and molded it into the school’s second women’s soccer national championship squad. He extended the team’s unbeaten streak in PacWest play to 21 matches after his Cougars closed 2012 with 10 consecutive wins in league play. In 2013 Azusa Pacific put together a 10-0-1 PacWest record to clinch the championship with a 2-1 win over California Baptist before a regular season ending loss to Point Loma became the lone blemish on the conference slate.
Azusa Pacific followed that up with a loss to Point Loma in the NCCAA West Region final, and after two straight losses the team had to rely on receiving an at-large bid into national championships, taking away any momentum the red-hot Cougars once had.
In pool play, however, Azusa Pacific got back on track, tabbing a 2-1 win over Houghton, and defeating Trinity Christian 3-0 to earn a rematch with Point Loma in the semifinals. With a trip to the championship match on the line the Cougars got two scores from NCCAA National Player of the Year Mayra Almazan, avenging two straight losses to the Sea Lions with a 2-0 win.
In the championship match Azusa Pacific faced off with the tournament’s prohibitive favorite, Dallas Baptist. The Patriots got on the board first, and after controlling the opening portion of the match it looked like Azusa Pacific’s improbable run was over. But Haley Fisher gave the Cougars new life just before the half, scoring in the final minute of the opening frame to give Surrell’s team a 1-1 tie after 45 minutes of action.
After a scoreless second half Almazan sealed the program’s second national title, scoring in the 94th minute with a golden goal that gave Surrell his first national championship as a Cougar head coach.
Throughout the season Surrell leaned on his two senior center backs Allie Stone and Danielle Ross, who were instrumental in helping Azusa Pacific register 12 shutouts and a 0.50 goals against average, both tops in the PacWest. The Cougars recorded nine consecutive shutouts on its way to the PacWest championship, and only one team scored more than one goal against Azusa Pacific this season (Point Loma) as Surrell blended a core group of returners with an influx of new talent.
“He is the most knowledgeable coach about the game that I know, but he is also incredible at recognizing how to get the best out of each individual player. I think what sets him apart from other coaches is his genuine care for each of his players and his high standard of excellence every day,” said Stone.
“This award is a long time coming for him after so many successful seasons. His hard work is evident to all of his players, but beyond just working to make us the best soccer team he is intentional about getting to know each player individually. Having a coach who wants to know who you are and how you are doing is so motivating and encouraging as a player.”
Surrell, who became the fastest coach in NAIA history to reach the 200-win mark in 2011, boasts a career 238-38-21 record, and during his stint as the program’s head coach has never had a losing season. In fact, Surrell has never lost more than five matches in any season, and owns four of the program’s five winningest seasons.
Surrell will accept his Coach of the Year award at the NSCAA Awards Banquet on Jan. 27 during the NSCAA Convention in Philadelphia, Penn. For the NSCAA release of the 2013 Coaches of the Year, Click Here.