College athletics have changed over the last decade as colleges lose their players and coaches quicker than ever. For Marist women’s soccer, the program has lost its second consecutive coach since 2020 as Brittany Kolmel resigned as head coach on Friday night.
The Marist athletic department announced that Kolmel is resigning due to personal reasons. The news is surprising and not surprising due to the different factors surrounding the team. The decision ultimately highlights a larger issue in college athletics.
Kolmel took the job right before COVID-19 ended sports across the country. After a shortened season in 2020 that saw the Red Foxes play only one game, Kolmel got the Red Foxes to the MAAC Playoffs in her two full seasons as coach.
Kolmel’s first season saw a record of 5-7-3, which featured a non-conference win over Fordham. Kolmel built a defensive first identity that saw the Red Foxes shut teams down.
Having goalkeeper Natalie Kelchner in the net and a strong backline featuring Samantha Sturno and Deanna Lomino helped anchor the Red Foxes to the seventh seed in the MAAC Playoffs. The main problem during the season was Marist’s inability to put the ball in the back of the net. The Red Foxes had 11 games where they held their opponent to one goal or fewer, but they only managed to win five of those games.
Marist ultimately fell 1-0 to second-seeded Quinnipiac in the MAAC Playoffs, but they had many chances to win the game. This was a common theme during the Kolmel era, where they had many opportunities to get big wins, but they were unable to make the big play.
In Kolmel’s second full season, the Red Foxes finished with a 5-7-5 record, but they made positive strides. After prioritizing their offense in the offseason, Marist improved offensively to start the season.
With fifth-year transfer Nicole Colantuono, the Red Foxes showed offensive improvement. However, this did not last long as Marist struggled to score late in the season, and they barely qualified for the MAAC Playoffs. The Red Foxes ultimately fell 3-1 to third-seeded Niagara in the Quarterfinals.
In three seasons, Kolmel finishes with a record of 10-15-8 and two MAAC Tournament appearances. During her tenure, Natalie Kelchner won Goalkeeper of the Year in 2021, the team had seven All-MAAC honorees, and an All-Rookie selection. Also, Kolmel’s defensive strategy was effective during her tenure, as the team finished second and third in goals allowed during her two seasons.
The struggles for Kolmel were on the offensive side, as Marist finished ninth in goals per game in the MAAC in 2021 and sixth in 2022.
When evaluating Kolmel’s’ on-field product, she put together an elite defensive team. Kolmel deserves credit for the stellar defenses she constructed that ultimately carried Marist to the tournament in her two seasons.
The criticism should come from her offensive philosophies, as Marist’s offense was not at the level needed for championship-level soccer. Kolmel’s coaching seemed similar to a defensive coordinator that becomes a head coach in the NFL whose offenses are never great.
Overall, Kolmel deserves credit for making the playoffs in a sport that lacks funding and resources. Kolmel’s tenure should be defined as a solid defensive team that needed more playmakers and scoring.
As Marist looks for a new women’s soccer coach, it should prioritize a coach that has a balanced approach. Several Marist teams have long-tenured coaches, with football’s Jim Parady and women’s basketball’s Brian Giorgis being the two most prominent examples.
Athletic Director Tim Murray and the rest of the search committee will hope to bring in a coach that can provide stability while helping the team get back toward the top of the MAAC.
Edited by Andrew Hard
Photo from Marist Athletics