Rick Stainton thought that Fairleigh Dickinson would be a place where he could settle in and make his own. He transformed a program that put together just 11 wins in the previous three seasons into one that went 8-8-4 in 2013. The Knights went from being picked eighth in the preseason to securing a second seed in the Northeast Conference Tournament.
With all of the success coming at FDU, why would Stainton move on? Well, he’s got an easy answer to that question. “For me, being the head coach at Seton Hall is not another step in my career,” the first-year Seton Hall women’s soccer head coach said. “This is home for me.”
Stainton returns to South Orange after serving as an assistant for two years beginning in 2011. He has had experience as a head coach of women’s soccer professional team Sky Blue FC. He has worked at three other universities outside of Seton Hall and even has been a director of athletics at the high school level. As if that was not enough for his r?©sum?©, Stainton also founded Stainton Sport Enterprises; a sports service business that specializes in training and instruction.
While his past has featured many transitions from job to job, Stainton says that he has no plans to leave South Orange anytime soon. “My hope is that with the support of the administration that I’ll be here for quite a long time,” Stainton said. “My background has always been resurrect- ing things. I’m here to not only to establish something, but I want to build on that and sustain success.”
Stainton comes into a tough situation. The Pirates went through a rough 5-11-2 season despite having a senior-laden class. While this year’s team will surely be younger, the Pirates return their five best defenders, at least in terms of minutes.
“The biggest thing is to establish the difference between being a program and being a team,” Stainton said. “A team is a group that just comes to practice and that’s all they do. We’re trying to do everything around establishing a program that carries a pride.”
The Pirates are in the midst of a spring season that began with a 5-0 loss to St. Joseph’s, but they have bounced back with some nice efforts. A defense that was fourth in the Big East, allowing only 1.00 goals per game during the conference slate, compiled two shutouts on April 5. The Pirates shut out Columbia 1-0 and fought to a scoreless draw with Lafayette.
“Offensively, we still have to work on holding on to possessions,” Stainton said. “Finishing opportunities will be something we continue to work on.” The Hall will look to do that at Drexel at 7 p.m. on Friday.
As the spring wraps and summer nears, it’s all about recruiting for Stainton. Stainton’s concern is low. “We have a foundation here,” he said. “To have so many close games last season, I think we’re getting close to regaining the winning culture. In terms of who we are looking for, we want those who want to be more than just a part of a team and that can make an impact immediately. And to have the great things with renovations of our athletics and fitness center, there’s an enthusiasm here that I feel is special.”
Stainton is not aiming for his first year to be one of growing pains.
“If we don’t have the goal of making the Big East Tournament, then what’s the point of us being here? I have aspirations for this group and if we can make it to the conference tournament, anything can happen.”
John Fanta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.