On all of her soccer escapades from her hometown of Dublin, Ireland, to the east coast of the United States, no task has proven itself more daunting for Ciara Crinion than the one staring at her in South Orange, N.J.
Seton Hall announced Crinion’s hire on Dec. 11, a little bit over a month since women’s soccer ended its season. The 2018 campaign, led by former head coach Rick Stainton, ultimately proved to be disastrous for the Pirates, as they went 2-14-4, including 0-9-0 in Big East play.
The season before, the Pirates went winless at 0-12-5 overall.
The Pirates are hoping that Crinion can turn the program around and trend it in an upward direction much like Andreas Lindberg did for the men’s program. Although the men saw the same number of wins as the prior season, the Pirates’ play was elevated to a new level under their new manager.
Coming into the 2019 season, Crinion brings a wealth of experience to the program, but none as a head coach. She previously spent seven seasons at Hartford, both as an assistant coach and as an associate head coach. Under head coach John Natale, Hartford went 77-36-20 while Crinion was aboard.
“It was definitely a program where I learned in every facet,” Crinion said. “I was ready to move on and be a head coach. It’s something that I appreciate with John [Natale] and Hartford that I got that experience that put me in a position to be ready right away.”
Along with her coaching expertise, Crinion also brings knowledge on the recruiting trail. She was able to assist in bringing in and developing a number of All-American athletes while at Hartford, so she will aim to replicate that success at Seton Hall.
“There was a winning culture [at Hartford] and it’s important that we create the same culture at Seton Hall,” Crinion said. “For me that’s not something you can pick up and put somewhere else. It’s something that you create on an everyday basis. At Seton Hall, it’s something that we’ve started and are creating right now.”
Crinion understands that she has plenty of untapped talent on the roster that she can reach into for success. Several Seton Hall’s key contributors last season, including Dani Brinckman, Siobhan McGovern, Izzy Engel, Cassy Harrigan, Alyssa Reszkowski and Marissa Aniolowski, are poised to return for the 2019 campaign.
“Everyone here right now has the same opportunity to prove themselves,” Crinion said. “I’m a new coach and we have a new staff, so we don’t necessarily know the players and their daily habits. When we start to train, everyone that’s here has an opportunity to prove what they can do and I think that motivates the players as well.”
Although the nucleus is in place at Seton Hall, Crinion understands that with a regime change, a player personnel change can be expected as well.
“We’re looking to bring in players moving forward in the recruitment process,” Crinion said. “We’re looking for players that can contribute right away within the program and players that are the right fit soccer wise and as people moving forward.”
One of Crinion’s main focuses prior to the season will be training. In order to see results on the pitch, she first needs to see her team excelling off of it.
“The biggest thing is that we get to a place where we’re confident,” Crinion said. “The only place we get that from is our everyday work in training.”
Crinion, who also helped her team achieve academic success while at Hartford, as the team received the United Soccer Coaches Team Academic Award for five straight years, will try and instill a winning culture across the board in her first few months with the program.
“It comes down to our every single day,” Crinion says. “On the soccer field, we are going to have a training environment where we look to improve. We utilize the resources here for strength and conditioning and making players better athletes. Again, it comes back to the everyday process on how we’re going to improve them.”
Kevin Kopf can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @KMKTNF.