Position: Head Coach
Head Coach Mike Noonan will enter his thirteenth season leading a reigning National Champion team in the fall of 2022. In his first twelve seasons leading the Tigers, Noonan has brought the program back into its rightful place amongst the national spotlight.
Clemson has reached the NCAA Tournament six of the past eight years, including NCAA Quarterfinal appearances in 2016 and 2019. In 2015, Noonan guided the Tigers to a spot in the NCAA National Championship match, finishing as the national runner-up that season. Noonan has also led the program to an ACC Tournament Championship in 2014, an ACC Regular Season title in 2019 and Championship in 2020, as well as appearances in the semifinal round of the ACC Tournament in seven of the past eight years.
In 2021, Noonan’s Tigers finally broke through to win the National Title in a 2-0 victory over No. 2 Washington in front of a raucous Clemson-heavy crowd in Cary, N.C. En route to the Championship, Clemson upended the No. 9, No. 1, No. 4 and No. 4 seeds.
During his first twelve seasons at Clemson, Noonan has collected a 140-72-35 record, which includes a 81-29-14 record over the past six seasons. In his career spanning four different schools, Noonan has amassed 364 wins (364-188-76). He earned his 300th career win in the Tigers’ matchup with in-state rival South Carolina in 2017. Noonan’s 100th win at Clemson came on Sept. 24, 2019, as the Tigers were victorious over Furman via a 2-0 result.
Over the past seven seasons, 23 of Noonan’s players have been selected in the MLS SuperDraft, most of any school in that timeframe. The 2022 MLS SuperDraft following the Tigers’ National Championship victory saw six Clemson players selected, a school record and a tie for the most players drafted from one school in a single draft in history. In 2020, Hermann Trophy Winner Robbie Robinson was the first overall pick in the draft, and the 2021 edition of the draft saw Clemson players get draft at No. 3, No. 4, and No. 27 overall, making the 2021 draft the first time in program history that Clemson had three players selected in the first round of the event.
Not only has Noonan’s program been successful on the field, but they have seen incredible achievement in the classroom. During the 2020 spring semester, Noonan’s squad set the program’s record for semester GPA and all-time GPA by earning a 3.56 team average. During the first 12 seasons at Clemson, Noonan has had 43 players named to the Academic All-ACC team, including a record nine honorees in 2021. The 2019-20 school year saw 21 players named to the ACC Honor Roll.
Community relations are also a priority for Noonan and the members of his program. In 2015-16, the team’s efforts were recognized with the squad earning Clemson’s President’s Pride Cup. The President’s Pride Cup is annually awarded to the Clemson athletic team that earns the highest point total based on three components: community outreach, academics, and athletics, with bonus points added for leadership as well as individual honors and contributions. The 2018-19 school year saw Noonan’s squad rank second in the nation for community service hours recorded amongst men’s soccer teams.
AT CLEMSON (2010-present)
Noonan’s success in building Clemson United back to national prominence culminated with the 2021 National Championship. The Tigers headed into the season having lost three first team All-ACC players to the MLS SuperDraft, and just three games into the year lost Captain James Brighton to injury. Mohamed Seye’s subsequent injury left Noonan and his staff without a true striker for the remainder of the season.
Still, Clemson managed to net 51 goals, seventh most in the nation, throughout the campaign due to the tactical brilliance of Noonan and Co. The Tigers altered their formation in the National Championship game, completely baffling their opponent and allowing them to control the match and ultimately cruise to the team’s first title since 1987. The Tigers finished the season 16-5-2 and Noonan and his staff earned United Soccer Coaches Staff of the Year recognition.
Amidst a global pandemic, Noonan led the Tigers to another extremely succesfuly campaign throughout the 2020 season. The program finished the year with a record of 14-3-3 and was ranked as the nation’s No. 1 team in seven weekly polls. The Tigers earned plenty of accolades throughout the year, as Clemson earned its 15th ACC Championships by winning the program’s fourth ACC Tournament title, garnered the ACC Atlantic Division title, earned the No. 1 seed in the 2020 NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998, and extended its unbeaten streak at home to 25 consecutive matches. Most notably, the 2020 campaign will be remembered as Clemson’s first time defeating a top-ranked squad on multiple occasions, as the Tigers accured three wins over No. 1 ranked squads throughout the year.
All of Clemson’s success in 2020 allowed for the program to collect numerous awards and honors, as Noonan and his staff were chosen as the United Soccer Coaches South Region Staff of the Year following the season. Clemson’s players went on to garner four All-South Region honors, seven All-ACC honors, two ACC All-Freshman honors, and 40 weekly awards throughout the campaign. Off the field success came to the program as Justin Malou was named a finalist for the prestigious Senior CLASS Award, while George Marks became the first player in program history to collect CoSIDA Academic All-District honors multiple times in his career.
Clemson’s 2019 season will be remembered as one of the finest years in the program’s illustrious history. The Tigers’ record of 18-2-2 gave the program the most wins in a single season since 2001, while the two losses were the fewest since 1998. En route to such a record, Clemson scored 70 goals – a mark which was good enough to lead the nation and be the most by a Clemson squad since 1993 – and amassed a staggering 214 points.
The members of the team were handsomely recognized for their achievements on the field by combining to win the 2019 MAC Hermann Trophy, garnering four All-American honors, earning five All-South Region awards, receiving seven All-ACC recognitions, collecting two ACC All-Freshman awards and taking home the ACC Offensive, Defensive and Freshman of the Year honors.
Noonan was named the 2019 ACC Coach of the Year after leading the team to an ACC Regular Season title. The outstanding achievements earned during the campaign were rewarded in the offseason by Noonan and Clemson agreeing to a new six-year contract to keep him in charge at Clemson through the 2025 season.
Following the conclusion of the season, Robbie Robinson was the first overall selection in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft and was named the ACC’s Male Athlete of the Year. Robinson is the first Clemson men’s soccer player to earn both accolades and is the first men’s soccer player to be named the ACC Male Athlete of the Year.
In 2018, the Clemson program was full of youth, with 18 players on the roster having less than two years of experience under their belt. Despite this fact, Noonan developed the squad to be one full of grit, with the team rolling off a string of quality performances throughout the early and late part of the season.
The Tigers’ had a successful campaign during the 2017 season, finishing with a 12-6-1 record and an appearance in the NCAA tournament’s round of 32. For their postseason success, the team solidified their placement in the postseason polls, receiving final rankings of 17th and 6th in the NSCAA and SA polls, respectively. During this season, the program also brought in the second-ranked recruiting class in the nation, as determined by TopDrawerSoccer.
The 2016 season saw Noonan’s Tigers reach the NCAA Elite Eight, as well as the ACC Tournament Championship Game. Clemson finished the season ranked fifth nationally by the NSCAA, and No. 1 in the nation according the final RPI of the year. Five Tigers earned All-ACC honors and three players were honored on the ACC All-Tournament Team.
In 2015, Noonan led the Tigers to the College Cup, where they finished as the NCAA National Runner-Up after falling to Stanford. Four players were named NSCAA All-Americans in 2015, and three made the College Cup All-Tournament Team. Seven Tigers earned All-ACC honors, including ACC Midfielder of the Year Paul Clowes and ACC Defender of the Year Kyle Fisher. Four players from Noonan’s 2015 squad were drafted into the MLS, highlighted by Andrew Tarbell, who was taken eighth overall by the San Jose Earthquakes.
In 2014, the Tigers won the ACC Tournament Championship, the program’s first ACC title since the 2001 season. The team also claimed a share of the ACC Atlantic Division regular season title and advanced to the Round of 16 in the NCAA Tournament that season.
During the 2013 season, the Tigers advanced to the ACC Tournament and then on to the NCAA Tournament. It was the first NCAA Tournament bid for the Tigers under Noonan. In 2012, the Tigers reached the ACC Tournament Semifinals before falling in overtime to second-ranked Maryland.
During the 2011 season, Clemson defeated No. 1 Maryland and No. 14 Boston College, and tied No. 24 Duke in the ACC Tournament. In the last six matches of the campaign, the Tigers were unbeaten, going 4-0-2 to finish on a strong push that almost landed the program in the NCAA tournament. Clemson finished the year with an 8-8-2 record going 4-4 in the strong ACC. Clemson’s eight victories were the most since the 2006 campaign. The four ACC wins were the most since the 2000 season.
In 2010, Noonan led the Tigers to a win over 18th ranked Duke, a 1-0 decision over perennial power St. Louis and a 1-0 victory over arch-rival Furman in Greenville, SC. Of the Tigers’ nine losses, seven were by one-goal deficits.
Noonan became the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at Clemson University in January 2010. He is the program’s fifth coach in the 75-plus year history of Clemson men’s soccer. Noonan came to Clemson from Brown University of the Ivy League. In 2009, the Bears finished with an 11-3-5 record overall and advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s second round.
AT BROWN (1995-2009)Noonan compiled an impressive 160-77-31 record in 15 years at Brown. During his tenure with the Bears, Noonan, the fifth head soccer coach in Brown University’s 81-year soccer history, led the Bears to 10 NCAA Tournament berths, including NCAA Quarterfinal appearances in 1995 and 2000, eight Ivy League Championships, and the team’s highest national ranking ever (third) during the 1995 season.
Furthermore, 10 of Noonan’s players were selected in the annual Major League Soccer draft. All three members of Noonan’s class of 2005 signed contracts with the MLS at the conclusion of their Brown careers.
Noonan’s 1995 team set a school record for victories with a 16-4 mark. During the 1996 season, he guided the Bears to an 8-5-4 record. The Bears came back in 1997 with an Ivy League title, a berth in the NCAA Playoffs, and an 11-6-1 overall record, compiling a 7-0-1 mark over the last eight games.
In 1998, Noonan’s team went undefeated in Ivy play, shutting out six of seven Ivy League opponents en route to back-to-back Ivy titles and an NCAA Tournament appearance. Noonan’s defense allowed the fewest goals (2) in Ivy League play in Brown men’s soccer history, becoming the first Brown team to go undefeated in the Ivies since 1976.
In 1999, the Bears finished second in the Ivy League and earned an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament. Brown recorded its first NCAA opening round victory since 1995 with a 2-1 overtime win against Rhode Island on Stevenson Field.
In 2000, Noonan led Brown to its fourth NCAA Tournament berth in as many years, as Brown became the first team in 20 years to finish a perfect 7-0-0 in Ivy play. The Bears qualified for the NCAA Quarterfinals for the first time since 1995, defeating Vermont, 2-0, and Duke, 1-0, to advance to the third round.
In 2001, the Bears earned a share of their second consecutive Ivy League title by posting a 5-1-1 league mark. The 2002 season was one of the most difficult years for the Bears as they were plagued with injuries all season long and dropped several close contests, finishing 5-8-4 overall. It marked the first losing season for Brown under Noonan.
In 2003, Noonan put Brown back on the map, as it retained a national ranking throughout the entire season, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time in his career. The Bears went undefeated in Ivy play, posting a 6-0-1 record en route to the League Title.
In addition, Noonan was named the New England Division I Coach of the Year. In 2004, Brown finished in a tie for second in the league standings before returning to its place atop the Ivy League in 2005, earning its eighth Ivy Title in the last 12 years. In 2006, the Bears received an At-Large bid into the NCAA Tournament and made it to the second-round. They defeated Adelphi at home, but lost to #1 Duke in the second round.
Brown closed out the 2007 regular season with a 15-2-1 overall record, including a perfect 7-0-0 mark in the Ivy League. It was the second time in seven years (2000, 2007) one of Noonan’s teams achieved an unblemished Ivy record. The 2007 squad earned the program’s 19th league title, and an automatic bid with a first-round bye to the Division I NCAA Tournament. The sixth-seeded Bears featured five players on the First-Team All-Ivy squad, including one who was a unanimous selection, and a sixth player who made the second team. Brown also swept the Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year awards for the first time in school soccer history.
AT NEW HAMPSHIRE (1991-94)Prior to his arrival at Brown, Noonan led the University of New Hampshire to an NCAA Tournament berth in 1994 for the first time in the school’s history, ironically losing to Brown in the first round at Stevenson Field. His Wildcats finished with a 15-5-2 record in 1994, playing 11 matches against top 20 teams, while setting a school record for victories. New Hampshire also captured the North Atlantic Conference’s regular season championship that year.
Noonan compiled a 48-23-9 record in four years as head coach at New Hampshire and was the winningest coach in Wildcat history. He was the 1993 New England Coach of the Year, and in 1992 was named the North Atlantic Conference Coach of the Year.
AT WHEATON COLLEGE (1989-90)Prior to New Hampshire, Noonan served as the head soccer coach at Wheaton College from 1989 to 1990, where he was the first coach in the program’s history. He was also an assistant coach at the University of Vermont from 1986 to 1989, and an assistant coach at Bates College in 1983.
AS A PLAYER AT MIDDLEBURY COLLEGEA 1983 graduate of Middlebury College, where he was a four-year starter and two-time first-team All-American, Noonan embarked on a professional playing career in Sweden before returning to the United States to play for both the MISL and the AISA. He was voted to the AISA All-Star team in 1985.
PERSONALNoonan was inducted into the State of Connecticut Soccer Hall of Fame in 2011, and was inducted into the Middlebury Athletic Hall of Fame on Nov. 4, 2017.
He currently holds a UEFA “A” license from the English FA and an “A” license from the United States Soccer Federation. He is also a National Staff Coach for the National Soccer Coaches Association.
Noonan and his wife, Deb Belcher, have two daughters, Caleigh and Meghan.
Follow Mike Noonan on Twitter @CoachMikeNoonan.
December 8, 2023
December 6, 2023