For the first time in the program's 23-year history, the Saint Mary's University women's soccer team will take the field to open the 2004 season wtih a new head coach leading the way.
After 22 seasons, seven Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference titles and seven NCAA Division III National Tournament appearances, Dan Blank has decided to step down as the Cardinals' head coach.
"I believe it is time for the SMU women's soccer program to have a new and fresh leadership, and I am anxious to begin a new life outside of Saint Mary's," said Blank, who, along with his 22 years as the Cardinals head soccer coach, also spent three years as SMU's head women's basketball coach. "I want to thank all of the present and former players and coaches for their many contributions to our success over the past years. For their friendships and loyalty, I am deeply indebted."
Blank compiled a record of 239-138-26 in his 22 years at the helm, guiding the Cardinals to seven conference championships during a nine-year span from 1985 to 1991. He was named MIAC Coach of the Year three times (1988, 1991 and 1994), and was NCAA West Region Coach of the Year in 1986 and 1987.
"Dan started our women's soccer program in the early '80s and has had a marvelous career at Saint Mary's," said SMU athletic director Chris Kendall, who noted that a national search will begin immediately for Blank's successor. "I wish him all the best in the future."
"Dan has served Saint Mary's University well over his 22 years here," added Tony Piscitiello, SMU vice president for admission and athletics. "We all wish him the best as he moves on to new endeavors."
Under Blank, the Cardinals earned six straight NCAA tournament berths from 1986-1991, then added a seventh in 1994. Twice during Blank's tenure, the Cardinals amassed more than 18 wins "” going 19-3-0 in 1985 and 20-4-0 in 1986.
The Cardinals reached the regional final of the NCAA Division III National Tournament twice, both times falling to UC-San Diego, in 1986 and 1994. Sandwiched between those two regional-final performances, the Cardinals were beaten in the opening round of the national tournament in 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990 and 1991.
During his three seasons as the women's basketball coach, Blank posted a 52-26 mark, winning the conference title in 1985-86 and earning SMU's last NCAA tournament berth, falling to Concordia-Moorhead in the regional final.