Rutgers terminates Dan Donigan as head coach

Rutgers dismissed men’s soccer head coach Dan Donigan of his coaching duties effective immediately on Tuesday. 

“After an evaluation of the program's performance, a change of leadership is appropriate at this time,” said Athletics Director Pat Hobbs in a press release issued by the school. “We are very thankful for Dan’s dedicated service to Rutgers and its student athletes. He contributed to our rich history of soccer success.”

Donigan’s termination comes just several days after the No. 7 seed Scarlet Knights were eliminated by No. 2 seeded Wisconsin in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals for the third consecutive season. 

In his nine-year tenure at the helm of the program, Donigan compiled a 55-95-1 record on the Banks. He led Rutgers to two second round NCAA Tournament appearances in 2011— when the program was a member of the Big East Conference — and in 2015. 

The Knights went into this year hoping to put together a winning season for the first time since 2015. But, things did not prove to be any different from the previous year. 

Rutgers finished the season with a third straight losing record, 4-13-1 overall and 2-6 in the conference. It only had one victory at Yurcak Field this season, a 2-1 win over Northwestern on Oct. 12, courtesy of a late penalty kick by junior forward Jordan Hall.

A match against Marist scheduled for Sept. 18 was canceled because of poor field conditions and was not factored into the 2018 record.

The storyline between 2017 and 2018 were almost identical. The team finished with the exact same record and a .250 winning percentage as the previous season, where it fell in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.

There were moments during this fall where it looked like the tide could turn for the Knights. They drew Hartford 2-2 in double overtime on Sept. 8, in what was presumed to be a winnable game. 

One of the areas the team improved on this season was offense. Last season, Rutgers ranked near the bottom in goals in the Big Ten (20). It scored 4 more goals this season, the majority of which were courtesy of Hall, who claimed the Big Ten’s top scorer title this season. 

The Knights also lost by a goal at then-No. 5 Michigan State on Sept. 21, and managed to hold No. 2 Indiana scoreless for 83 minutes on senior night in October.

Rutgers came up short against Columbia, falling 2-1, and was shutout against Penn State in its final regular season match.

The longest losing streak the team went on was a five-match skid between the team’s first win against Mount St. Mary’s on Aug. 31 and a 3-2 overtime thrilling victory at Ohio State on Sept. 30. 

In 2015, the Knights’ second year in the Big Ten, Donigan won the Big Ten Coach of the Year Award, following the team’s first conference championship. Donigan’s team produced one All-American, Jason Wright, a former forward who was a member of the 2015 Rutgers team that captured its 17th NCAA Tournament appearance. 

“Moving forward, we are committed to securing a head coach who will help our student athletes compete and succeed at a Big Ten and national level,” Hobbs said in the press release. “A national search will begin immediately.”

For updates on the Rutgers men's soccer team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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