Middlebury College men's soccer coach David Saward will retire following the 2017 season after concluding his 33rd year as the team's head coach. Alex Elias '08, who has served as the team's assistant coach for the past three seasons, will take over the program in January of 2018.
"I have had a wonderful time working with all the students and my colleagues for the past 33 years," said Saward. "This feels like the right time to hand the reigns over to a young man who I believe will take the program to new heights of success. Alex is a talented, astute coach who is highly motivated to move the program forward."
"David has been a model coach at Middlebury," said Director of Athletics Erin Quinn. "He is a master teacher to other coaches within Middlebury Athletics and to soccer coaches across the country. He has been an exemplary mentor to generations of soccer players, as evidenced in part by the success of his former players as coaches, in addition to the success of his program – he will be sorely missed."
Saward arrived at Middlebury in the summer of 1985, taking over the men's soccer and women's squash programs. He led the soccer squad to 27 postseason appearances in 31 years, including five consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances (1994-98) and 10 overall. He has more wins than any other coach in Middlebury soccer history with a career record of 347-119-59 spanning 32 seasons.
The 2007 season was a magical one for the Panthers, as they captured the program's first NCAA Championship. Middlebury set a school record with 18 wins against just two losses and a pair of ties. Following the season, Saward was named both the New England and National Coach of the Year.
Saward's teams have also captured two ECAC titles (1986, 1989) and three NESCAC Championships (2000, 2007, 2010). He earned New England Coach of the Year six times, NESCAC Coach of the Year twice and the National Coach of the Year in 2007.
Saward completed his final season at the helm of the women's squash program in 2005-06 after serving 21 years as the team's head coach.
"Coach Saward's departure creates an opportunity for one of the outstanding emerging coaches in college soccer," said Quinn. "Alex possesses the combination of an astute mind for soccer, the ability to teach and communicate exceptionally well and the balanced perspective necessary to coach at the NESCAC and Division III level. We have been fortunate to have Alex on our sidelines for the past several years, and it became clear over time that we were fortunate to have our eventual successor as our assistant coach."
No stranger to the Middlebury soccer program, Elias won a national title as a player with the Panthers in 2007. He will enter his fifth season as the team's top assistant coach this fall.
"It is a constant education working with Coach Saward," said Elias. "He knows the game so well, he cares deeply about his players, and he manages to keep perspective regardless of the circumstance. It is my honor to continue to work with him, as well as collaborate as we move the soccer program forward."
The Panthers have reached the NESCAC semifinals in three of the last four seasons since Elias has joined the staff. He has helped develop 15 All-NESCAC players, the 2014 NESCAC Player of the Year, three All-Americans, and two Academic All-Americans. In the classroom over the past three years, the Panthers have earned the NSCAA Team Academic award each year, achieving the 10th highest GPA in the nation across all divisions in 2014.
Prior to working at Middlebury, Elias spent three seasons as the lead assistant and recruiting coordinator at Division I Long Island University-Brooklyn (LIU). While at LIU, Elias helped mentor a member of the Canadian National Team, an Academic All-American, an All-Northeast Region Player and three All-NEC Players.
During his four-year playing career at Middlebury, Elias played in three NESCAC Championships and captained the 2007 team to NCAA and NESCAC Championship crowns. Elias received First Team All-American, First-Team All-New England and First-Team All-NESCAC honors. He was also named a CoSIDA District I Academic All-District with a 3.71 GPA.
A Manchester, Vermont, native, Elias was an NSCAA High School All-American at Burr & Burton. He was the Vermont Gatorade Player of the Year and has been inducted into his high school athletic hall of fame. Elias graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. in economics from Middlebury in 2008 and earned an M.A. in psychology from LIU Brooklyn in 2013.