Men's Soccer Associate Head Coach
BJ Craig, who was promoted to associate head coach in February of 2013, is entering his 10th season on the Notre Dame coaching staff. The Irish have enjoyed a tremendous amount of success with Craig on the sidelines, posting a 111-48-33 record and winning the 2013 national championship in addition to capturing four conference titles.
In Craig’s nine seasons, Notre Dame has produced nine All-Americans, 39 all-conference selections, five conference players of the year and 23 total MLS draft picks. The program also has excelled in the classroom, boasting nine Academic All-America honorees and 14 National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Scholar All-America selections, including two NSCAA Scholar-Athletes of the Year.
The Irish have earned a bid to the NCAA Championship in eight of Craig’s nine seasons with the program, and they have garnered one of the tournament’s 16 national seeds on seven occasions, including the top overall seed in 2012 and 2014.
Notre Dame Highlights:
- 2013 National Championship
- 8 NCAA Championship Appearances in 9 Seasons
- 2015 ACC Championship Runner-Up
- 2014 ACC Coastal Division Champion
- 2014 United Soccer Coaches Glenn “Mooch” Myernick National Men’s Assistant Coach of the Year
- 2013 ACC Regular-Season Co-Champion
- 2013 United Soccer Coaches South Region Assistant Coach Of The Year
- 1 BIG EAST Tournament Title (2012)
- 1 BIG EAST Regular-Season Title (2008)
- 8 United Soccer Coaches All-America Selections
- 39 All-Conference Selections
- 5 Conference Players of the Year
- 9 Academic All-Americans
- 14 United Soccer Coaches Scholar All-America Selections
- 23 Overall MLS Draft Picks
- 20 MLS SuperDraft Picks
- Matt Besler – 2008 United Soccer Coaches Scholar-Athlete of the Year
- Harrison Shipp – 2013 CoSIDA Academic All-America of the Year, United Soccer Coaches Scholar-Athlete of the Year
- Patrick Hodan – 2015 CoSIDA Academic All-America of the Year
NOTRE DAME SUCCESS UNDER CRAIG
Notre Dame ascended to the top spot in the NSCAA poll once more during the 2016 campaign, ultimately reaching the third round of the NCAA Championship after posting a 12-7-2 mark. Brandon Aubrey was a first-round draft pick of Toronto FC (21st overall) in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft after being named an NSCAA All-America third team choice, while Jon Gallagher was recognized as the ACC Offensive Player of the Year.
Notre Dame was the seventh overall national seed under Craig’s tutelage in 2015, posting an 11-5-6 record that was highlighted by the program’s first Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championship match appearance. The Irish returned to the NCAA Championship Round of 16 for the fourth straight season, with Max Lachowecki (Real Salt Lake), Patrick Hodan (San Jose Earthquakes) and 2015 graduate Vince Cicciarelli (Columbus Crew) each selected in the MLS SuperDraft.
Craig was selected as the NSCAA Glenn “Mooch” Myernick National Men’s Assistant Coach of the Year in 2014, after Notre Dame posted a 12-5-4 record during the campaign and won the ACC Coastal Division with a 6-1-1 league mark. Patrick Hodan represented Notre Dame as the ACC Offensive Player of the Year and was named to the NSCAA All-America first team, while Nick Besler was a second team NSCAA All-American and the fifth overall pick of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft (Portland Timbers).
Notre Dame finished the national title-winning 2013 campaign with a remarkable 17-1-6 record while playing one of the most difficult schedules in the country. The Irish opened the season with a 13-game unbeaten streak, which catapulted them to No. 1 in the national polls for the first time in program history. After suffering their lone loss of the season to Virginia, 2-0, the Irish finished the campaign with a 10-game unbeaten streak (9-0-1) and outscored their opponents 25-8 during that stretch en route to the title. In the five-game run through the NCAA tournament, Notre Dame owned a 14-4 scoring advantage over their competition.
Craig’s work did not go unnoticed as he was selected as the 2013 NSCAA South Region Assistant Coach of the Year. Craig, along with assistant coaches Greg Dalby and Vern Gingerich, helped head coach Bobby Clark earn national coach of the year honors from the NSCAA and Soccer America along with being tapped as the ACC Coach of the Year.
Several Notre Dame players received accolades for their performances in 2013. Senior forward Harrison Shipp was a finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy and copped first team All-America honors, while fifth-year senior Grant Van De Casteele was a third team All-American. The Irish boasted six all-ACC selections, headlined by Shipp, the ACC Offensive Player of the Year.
Following the season, Shipp signed with the Chicago Fire as a “Homegrown Player” and the Colorado Rapids selected Van De Casteele in the first round of the 2014 MLS SuperDraft. That gave Notre Dame three first-round picks in the last two seasons as Ryan Finley (Columbus Crew) and Dillon Powers (Colorado Rapids) both went in the opening round of the 2013 SuperDraft and Powers would go on to win the MLS Rookie of the Year Award.
The 2012 season was one of the top campaigns in program history as the Irish won their first seven matches en route to a 17-4-1 record, which signified the most wins for the Irish since 1988. Notre Dame won the BIG EAST Championship tournament, its final before moving to the ACC, and garnered the No. 1 overall seed for the NCAA Championship for the first time.
Notre Dame boasted two first team All-Americans in Finley and Powers and that duo was among five Irish players that garnered all-BIG EAST accolades for the season. In addition, Finley was named the 2012 BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year and was a finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy.
The Irish garnered the No. 9 seed for the 2010 NCAA Championship and finished the season with a 10-6-4 record. Five Notre Dame student-athletes received all-BIG EAST accolades in 2010. Craig copped accolades of his own in 2010 as he was named one of the top 20 assistant coaches in NCAA Division I men’s soccer according to College Soccer News.
In 2009, Notre Dame posted an 11-8-4 record and finished second in the BIG EAST Blue Division along with being the BIG EAST Championship runner-up. Six Notre Dame players garnered all-BIG EAST honors in 2009. Bright Dike, Michael Thomas and Justin Morrow all were selected in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft.
During Craig’s first season at Notre Dame in 2008, the squad won the BIG EAST Blue Division and earned the No. 12 seed for the NCAA Championship before finishing with a 12-7-2 record. The Kansas City Wizards (now Sporting KC) selected Matt Besler with the eighth overall pick of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft. That marked the highest an Irish player had ever been nabbed in the SuperDraft. Jack Traynor went to the New York Red Bulls in the second round.
NOTRE DAME PUPILS AT THE PRO AND INTERNATIONAL LEVEL
Former Craig charges at Notre Dame have enjoyed significant success beyond college soccer. Matt Besler is a five-time MLS All-Star, two-time MLS Best XI selection, the 2012 MLS Defender of the Year and he captained Sporting KC to the 2013 MLS Cup and 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Justin Morrow started the 2012 MLS All-Star Game while he was a member of the San Jose Earthquakes (now with Toronto FC).
Besler and Morrow established another monumental moment for the Irish program as they became the first Notre Dame alums to earn a cap with the United States Senior National Team when they started on the backline in a friendly versus Canada on Jan. 29, 2013. Besler has gone on to earn over 30 caps with the U.S., and he started all four matches at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and a pair of contests at the 2016 Copa América Centenario.
Craig has witnessed other Irish players experience success on the international level. Dillon Powers and Aaron Maund both were members of the United States team that competed at the 2009 U-20 World Cup in Egypt. In August of 2010, Powers was named the MVP of the Milk Cup Tournament as he helped lead the U.S. U-20 squad to the title. Bright Dike has played in multiple games with the Nigerian National Team and he became the first Notre Dame alum to score a goal for a senior national team when he deposited the equalizer in a friendly against Catalonia on Jan. 2, 2013.
BEFORE ARRIVING AT NOTRE DAME
Craig joined the Notre Dame program after being an assistant coach at the University of Louisville during the 2007 campaign. In his lone season at Louisville, Craig helped guide the Cardinals to an 11-7-4 record and a berth in the NCAA Championship. The Cardinals finished second in the BIG EAST’s Red Division before advancing to the semifinals of the conference tournament.
Prior to his time at Louisville, Craig had a four-year stint (2003-06) as head coach at Saint Francis University (Pennsylvania). Craig posted a 31-31-13 record at Saint Francis and left with the second-most wins in program history. He led the Red Flash to their first two Northeast Conference (NEC) tournament appearances and also produced the program’s first winning season during the 2004 campaign en route to being named the NEC Coach of the Year. Craig led Saint Francis to a 27-19-11 record, including an 18-11-7 mark in the NEC, over his final three seasons. The Red Flash notched a winning record in each of those three seasons and he developed two NSCAA all-region honorees and seven all-conference selections.
Craig led his 2006 Saint Francis team to the school’s first-ever appearance in the NEC championship match. He guided the Red Flash to a 10-7-3 mark, which tied a school record that was previously set in Craig’s second season with the program in 2004.
Craig joined the Red Flash staff after serving as an assistant coach at Dartmouth College from 1998-2003. In the fall of 2002, he helped lead the perennial Ivy League power to a conference championship and a 9-7-1 overall record. The Big Green posted a 5-1-1 league mark and finished the 2002 season ranked third in the Northeast Region. Craig also helped direct the Big Green to an NCAA tournament berth in 2000.
Prior to joining the Dartmouth staff, Craig served as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Gordon College, in Wenham, Massachusetts, from 1995-96. During his tenure at Gordon, the Fighting Scots posted a 30-8-4 record and qualified for the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) tournament both seasons.
THE CRAIG FAMILY
Craig, a native of Westford, Massachusetts, is a 1993 graduate of Gordon College with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. He earned one varsity letter at the University of Massachusetts Lowell before transferring to Gordon College, where he lettered twice. Craig helped Gordon College to the Commonwealth Coast Conference championship in 1992. He earned a master’s degree in education from the University of Massachusetts Lowell in 1997. He is a member of the NSCAA and holds a USSF B License.
Craig and his wife, Erin, are the parents of four children, Noah, Micah, Jonah and Mattea.