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KINGSTON, R.I. - University of Rhode Island Director of Athletics Thorr Bjorn has announced the hiring of Gareth Elliott as head coach of the URI men's soccer team. Elliott - who previously led the Rams to the NCAA tournament as both a player and an assistant coach - returns to Kingston after spending the last five years as the head coach at Siena College.
"We are very excited to welcome Gareth back to the University of Rhode Island, where he starred for Coach Ed Bradley's championship teams," Bjorn said. "I am confident in his ability to have us not only competing for and winning the Atlantic 10 Championship, but also challenging for an NCAA title. His passion for Rhody soccer is contagious and I look forward to working with him to bring our program back to national prominence."
In five seasons at Siena, Elliott turned the best winning percentage of any coach in program history as he guided the Saints to an
overall record of 42-40-9 (.511) and a 24-14-5 (.616) mark in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC). He also mentored the first three student-athletes in program history who went on to play professionally.
"I am excited and honored to accept the position of head coach at the University of Rhode Island," said Elliott. "I would like to thank Thorr Bjorn and [Associate AD/Search Committee Chair] Sue Bergen for the opportunity to return to Kingston and lead my alma mater."
The 2012 MAAC Coach of the Year, Elliott guided Siena to a 6-1 conference record this past season - the Saints' highest ever winning percentage (.857) in league play. Siena also had four players named to the All-Conference squad - including 2012 Offensive Player of the Year Sindre Ek - as well as three All-Rookie selections. Additionally, captains Jannis Opalka and James Beeston were two of just 28 Division I student-athletes named to the NSCAA's Scholar All-America Team.
During his time in Loudonville, Elliott's teams had tremendous success in the classroom. This past fall, Siena earned an NSCAA Team Academic Award after posting the 12th highest team GPA amongst all Division I program (3.38) and set a program record with 10 student-athletes being named to the MAAC All-Academic Team. Last year, Opalka became the first student-athlete in program history to be named one of just 30 candidates for the prestigious Lowe's Senior CLASS Award.
Also in 2011, Elliott guided Siena to the program's first-ever wins over nationally-ranked opponents, defeating No. 15 Ohio State (1-0) and No. 16 Iona (1-0). That year, the Saint's defense finished the season ranked 34th in the country, allowing just 0.89 goals per game.
Siena's offense was the story in 2010 as the Saints scored a program-record 49 goals, ranking them fourth nationally. After beginning the season at 1-4, the Saints rebounded to go 9-4-1 over their final 14 games, including a 7-2 showing in the MAAC.
Additionally, Siena's Emory Welshman was awarded the 2010 MAAC Offensive Player of the Year award and five other players earned All-MAAC honors.
The Saints went 8-8-3 overall in 2009 and posted the program's first ever win over an ACC opponent (Boston College, 1-0). Elliott's recruiting also yielded three MAAC All-Rookie Team selections as well as the MAAC Rookie of the Year.
In his first year as a Division I head coach (2008), Elliott's Saints went 9-8-1 and won seven conference games - their most since joining the MAAC in 1989.
Prior to taking over the Saints' program, Elliott spent five seasons as an assistant at Rhode Island - three under URI Hall of Famer Ed Bradley and two under John O'Connor. During that period, URI captured three Atlantic 10 championship titles (2003, 2005, 2006) and made three NCAA tournament appearances.
Eleven different Rams that Elliott coached in that span also went on to play professionally: Perek Bellah, Sasha Gotsmanov, Simon Gatti, Dean Ruddy, Jeff Gonsalves, Callum Bissett, Danleigh Borman, Geoff Cameron, Adam Howarth, Lukasz Tumicz and Michael Tanke.
A native of Belfast, Northern Ireland, Elliott stands among the most successful student-athletes in Rhode Island soccer history. During his playing career (1998-2001), he led the Rams to two Atlantic 10 regular-season titles, two Atlantic 10 postseason championships and two NCAA Tournament appearances. He ranks seventh all-time at URI with 87 career points in 78 games played, is fourth overall in assists (25) and is ninth in goals (31).
An NSCAA All-Region selection and three-time A-10 All-Championship team honoree, Elliott was named MVP of the 2000 Atlantic 10 tournament before leading URI to NCAA Sweet 16.
Following graduation, Elliott played professionally for one season with the Ards Football Club of the Irish Premier League.
Elliott is married to the former Abby Thornbladh, who was a member of the URI women's volleyball team from 2001-04.