EUGENE, Ore. -- Kat Mertz has been named head women’s soccer coach at the University of Oregon according to an announcement made Friday by Director of Athletics Rob Mullens. Mertz comes to UO after spending the 2012 season as head coach at Saint Louis University.
“Kat Mertz is an outstanding coach and we are excited that she will be leading Oregon Women's Soccer,” Mullens said. “Her commitment to the total student-athlete experience and her demonstrated passion for women's soccer propelled Kat to the top of our list. She has direct experience with the Pac-12 Conference and has earned the respect of her colleagues within the U. S. Women’s National Team and Olympic Development Program. We are confident that she is the right person to elevate Oregon Soccer to new heights.”
Mertz is the third coach in UO history since the program was returned to the varsity level in 1996. She replaces Tara Erickson who coached from 2005-12 and registered an eight-year mark of 70-71-18 (20-46-10 Pac-10/12). Bill Steffen preceded Erickson, amassing a nine-year record of 49-107-14 (15-51-6 Pac-10) from 1996-2004.
Mertz has made nine NCAA Tournament appearances in five collegiate coaching stints covering 14 seasons. She also has extensive coaching experience with the U.S. Women's Youth National Team and the Olympic Development Program.
Prior to taking over at Saint Louis where she led the Billikens to a 5-9-4 record, Mertz served as an assistant coach at Texas and helped guide the Longhorns to the NCAA Tournament in 2010 and 2011. Texas placed nine student-athletes on the All-Big 12 squad and 19 on the Academic All-Conference team during her tenure.
She was also a head coach at UNLV where she spent five seasons from 2005-09. Mertz compiled a 49-39-19 record and led the Rebels to a pair of NCAA Tournament berths, winning back-to-back Mountain West Conference Tournament titles in 2005 and 2006 en route to the postseason. She was named Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year after leading the Rebels to the MWC regular-season crown in 2007.
Mertz coached 17 All-Conference performers at UNLV, including an MWC co-Offensive Player of the Year, and three All-Region honorees. During her five seasons, the Rebels produced 60 Academic All-Conference selections, three College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District choices and one CoSIDA Academic All-American.
She has familiarity with the Pac-12 Conference; Mertz was the lead assistant coach at UCLA for five years (2000-04). The Bruins reached the NCAA Tournament round of 16 in each of those seasons and advanced to the NCAA College Cup in 2000, 2003 and 2004. UCLA won three Pac-10 championships and produced numerous All-Americans, Pac-10 Players of the Year and Academic All-Americans during Mertz's time with the program.
Mertz started her collegiate coaching career at Virginia where she was an assistant coach for the 1999 season.
A member of the U.S. Women's National Team's U-20 and U-18 coaching staff since 2007, Mertz helped lead the U-20 squad to the 2008 FIFA World Cup title. She was an assistant coach for the U.S. Women's National Team's U-15 team in its inaugural season in 2004, and last year she became a national scout for the Youth National Team programs.
Mertz served as head coach of the Olympic Development Program Region IV '94 age group team and was the ODP Region IV assistant director of goalkeeping from 2004 to 2010.
Mertz was a four-year starting goalkeeper (1994-97) at North Carolina State, where she helped the Wolfpack qualify for three NCAA Tournaments and reach the 1995 national quarterfinals. A starter in 88 of a possible 90 matches, she owns school records for saves in a career (436) and season (135, 1994) and ranks third in career shutouts (24).
Following her collegiate career, Mertz played two seasons for the Raleigh Wings, a W-1 (top tier) team in the United Soccer Leagues W-League. The Wings were league champions both years.
Mertz earned a bachelor's degree in natural resources, ecosystem assessment, at North Carolina State in 1998. She holds a United States Soccer Federation "A" national coaching license and a National Soccer Coaches Association of America Advanced National Diploma.
The search committee was chaired by Senior Associate Athletic Director/Senior Women’s Administrator Lisa Peterson. Also serving on the committee was Lorraine Davis (Special Assistant to the Athletic Director), Eric Roedl (Executive Associate Athletic Director/CFO), Jennifer Jackson (Academic Advisor, Services for Student-Athletes) and Jennifer Reynolds (Professor of Law and member of the Intercollegiate Athletics Committee).
"Kat Mertz won the prestigious University of Oregon’s - Women’s Soccer Head Coach position from a list of fantastic candidates and that is testament to her abilities and how highly she is regarded as a coach. I have witnessed her coaching abilities first hand when she served as one of my assistant coaches when the USA won the 2008 U20 FIFA World Cup. She has the ability to make players better and is one of the best young coaches in America. Her experiences coaching in the Pac-12 will serve her well. I wish her and the University a long and rewarding relationship." - Tony DiCicco, former U.S. Women's National Team Head Coach; Founder, SoccerPlus Camps
“Kat is a great hire for the University of Oregon and the Pac-12. Her work ethic, leadership, and experience coaching elite players will resonate with the current and future student athletes in the soccer program.” - Jillian Ellis, U.S. Youth National Team development director and former UCLA head women's soccer coach
“Obviously, to coach at this level you have to know and understand the game. Kat, of course, knows the game as well as any coach I've played for. For me, however, what makes Kat great is her ability to connect with her players as individuals. She has an uncanny ability to make you believe you are capable of more than you think you are. I am one hundred percent confident that that ability is what allowed me to succeed on some of the biggest stages of my career. I cannot wait for her to do the same with the players on the University of Oregon Women's Soccer team. It's impressive how much an impact a coach like that can have on a team, and it's definitely a fun thing to watch.” - Bianca Henninger, U.S. Soccer's Youth Female Athlete of the year in 2010