Our long national nightmare came to an end on Christmas Eve morning, as Marquette announced Frank Pelaez as the fourth head coach in women’s soccer history. Pelaez replaces Markus Roeders, who resigned on November 6th, 2019.
Pelaez is no stranger to Marquette. He was brought in as an assistant coach by Roeders when he was promoted to head coach for the 1996 season, and Pelaez stayed on staff through the 2014 season. During his 19 years on the Marquette sideline, including 13 as associate head coach, the Golden Eagles compiled a record of 282-104-39. They won nine regular season conference titles, five of which were in the Big East, as well as two Big East tournament titles and two Conference USA tournament titles. Marquette never won fewer than 10 games while Pelaez was an assistant in Milwaukee, earning a spot in the NCAA tournament 12 times.
After leaving Marquette, Pelaez was an assistant coach at Loyola-Chicago, where the Ramblers compiled a record of 52-37-10 in his five seasons there. They went 25-12-2 over the past two seasons, with a 13-1-0 record in Missouri Valley play, winning the conference regular season and tournament titles in both seasons and thus qualifying for the NCAA tournament as well. In 2019, the Ramblers rattled off a program record 12 match winning streak that was only snapped by Hofstra in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
This is all a long way of saying that Frank Pelaez has shown an ability to impact women’s college soccer teams in an incredibly positive manner. To wit:
- Marquette before Pelaez was hired: 21-28-8 in the first three years of program history, a .368 winning percentage.
- Marquette while Pelaez was on staff: 282-104-39, a .663 winning percentage
- Marquette after Pelaez departed: 43-45-10, a .439 winning percentage
- Loyola-Chicago with Peleaz on staff: 52-37-10, a .525 winning percentage
There is, of course, a question to be asked about what took so long to make the move to hire Pelaez. Roeders’ resignation was effective as of November 6th, and this hire was announced almost exactly seven weeks later. With the national championship game taking place on December 8th, it made sense to a certain degree that the Marquette administration was taking longer to hire a head coach than they had previously. It took about a week to bring Megan Duffy on board as women’s basketball coach earlier this year, and two weeks to make the move to announce Andrew Stimmel as men’s lacrosse coach. This took nearly two months to announce a coach that has a deep familiarity with the university, the program, and its alumni.
Something about that doesn’t quite make sense. If we were standing here talking about MU hiring an assistant from North Carolina or Stanford, the two teams that faced off in the title game, then the delay makes sense. If MU was honed in on Pelaez from the get go, this should have been done weeks ago..... and yet it wasn’t.
In any case, the questions we have left to answer are regarding Pelaez’s staff and Marquette’s incoming recruiting class. The Golden Eagles already announced the signing of six high school seniors back in November. All of the signings were made after Roeders’ resignation was announced, so presumably all six women are on board for whatever head coach they ended up getting. Remember, college soccer is an equivalency sport where the staff divides up 14 scholarships in whatever manner they see fit. Presumably, all six women are expecting to pay tuition to some extent, so they’re more committed to a Marquette education more than anything else. The athletic department also did not issue a press release on the signings, presumably because there was no head coach to comment on the players. There also might be other recruits still out there waiting to see how the situation landed, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens between now and August.
As far as the staff goes, assistant coaches Ashley Bares and Nick Vorberg were retained by the athletic department to maintain the program until a new head coach was hired. Bares is a former Marquette player, with her tenure coming from 2007 to 2010, right in the middle of Pelaez’s time as an assistant. She started as an assistant in 2013, and thus was Pelaez’s co-worker for two seasons. Vorberg also started in 2013, but as a volunteer assistant, if my memory serves correctly, and made the move to full-time assistant following Pelaez’s departure.
In any case, the point is that Pelaez is familiar with both Bares and Vorberg, and it’s entirely possible that they will remain on staff. There’s nothing in the press release saying anything in one direction or the other on that topic, but Pelaez is, of course, allowed to make whatever assistant coaching decisions he sees fit. For whatever it’s worth, Bares and Vorberg are still listed as assistant coaches on the women’s soccer roster page on GoMarquette.com as of Tuesday afternoon.