Courtesy: Ball State Athletics
Craig Roberts, who completed his sixth season as the Ball State soccer head coach in 2015, has overseen consistent growth in the program since coming to Muncie in 2010.
He has returned the Cardinals to prominence in the Mid-American Conference, highlighted by a league regular season championship in 2015.
Roberts also serves as an assistant coach with the Haiti Women's National Team, having been appointed to that position in the spring of 2014. In that role, he has coached against national teams from countries such as the United States, Mexico and Canada. He has coached against some of the world’s best players, including Abby Wambach, Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan and Hope Solo.
As part of his work with the Haiti program, Roberts serves as head coach of the U-17 women’s national team.
The 2015 season was the best yet for Ball State under Roberts’ direction. The Cardinals finished one shy of the school record for wins at 14-3-3 and claimed their first MAC regular season title since 2007 with a 10-1 league mark. The 10 conference wins were the most ever for a Ball State team.
The Cardinals reached as high as No. 68 in the RPI and finished the year at No. 75. They set school records with an eight-game winning streak and a nine-game unbeaten streak.
For all their success, they were rewarded with a record-tying five players on the All-MAC First Team, including the program’s first ever MAC Defensive Player of the Year (Lorina White) and Freshman of the Year (Abbie Boswell). Boswell set the Ball State freshman scoring record with 10 goals. She and White were joined on the first team by teammates Chelsy Swackhamer, Leah Mattingly and Alyssa Heintschel.
The Cardinals are a combined 36-17-9 over the past three seasons, including a pair of 11-win campaigns in 2013 and 2014. Both of those teams reached at least the semifinals of the MAC Tournament, with the 2013 squad becoming the first Ball State team to reach the championship game. The Cardinals came up just short against a Western Michigan team that went on to defeat Marquette in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The 2014 squad led the MAC in scoring with 32 goals and finished second in the league's West Division, marking Ball State’s best finish since the league implemented divisions for soccer in 2010. The 2015 team topped that by bringing home both the West Division and overall conference titles.
Roberts owns an overall record of 60-43-19 in his six years at Ball State. The Cardinals were 4-13-1 in the year prior to his arrival but have demonstrated steady improvement ever since. For his nine-year head coaching career, including the first four at UT Martin, Roberts is 94-70-31.
Strong defense has been a hallmark of the Ball State program under Roberts. The Cardinals have recorded 42 shutouts during his tenure, including nine in each of the past three seasons (the school record is 10). The 2015 team ranked 21st in the country with a .623 goals against average.
Twice in Roberts’ six years, the Cardinals have spoiled an opponent’s perfect MAC record in the final game of the regular season. The 2010 team defeated a Toledo squad that was previously unbeaten and untied in league play, and the 2012 team played Miami University to a draw to end its perfect MAC season.
A native of Kidderminster, England, Roberts has also coached 11 All-MAC selections at Ball State, including two-time selections Leah Mattingly (2014, 2015) and Madison Oyer (2013, 2014). A total of six players have been named to the MAC All-Freshman Team under his watch.
Roberts has coached two players at Ball State who have competed at the national team level. Pavla Benyrova played for the Czech Republic National Team, while Lauren Hall was a member of the Honduran U-20 National Team. Brigit Reder, who finished her Ball State career in 2012, went on to play for the Seattle Sounders Women of the W-League.
The Cardinals have also excelled in the classroom under Roberts, earning an NSCAA Team Academic Award in each of his years with the program. Roberts has coached six Capital One Academic All-District selections, including Skylar Chew three times. In 2012, Chew became the first Ball State soccer player to be named a first-team Academic All-American. The Cardinals have also had 30 Academic All-MAC selections and six NSCAA Scholar All-Region honorees during his time at Ball State.
Before coming to Ball State, Roberts spent four seasons at UT Martin as the most successful coach in the program's history. His 2009 team won the Skyhawks' first-ever Ohio Valley Conference regular-season championship. Over his final three seasons at UT Martin, his team tallied 29 wins, matching the combined number of victories for the program's previous seven seasons. He left with the school's top three marks for wins in a season, including the program's first ever 10-win campaigns (2007 & 2008).
Under Roberts' guidance in 2009, UT Martin picked up its first OVC title with a 9-7-0 overall record and a 6-2-0 mark in league play, marking the program's most conference wins in a single season. The Skyhawks finished the season 39th in NCAA Division I in shutout percentage as they posted eight on the season and only allowed 13 goals in 16 games.
In 2008, Roberts posted his second straight 10-win season as UTM finished the year 10-5-4 overall and advanced to the program's first ever OVC Tournament championship game. His team finished 21st in NCAA Division I in goals against average at 0.65. In 2007, Roberts led the 16th-most improved team in country as the Skyhawks posted a 10-6-3 record, doubling their win total in just his second season.
During his time at UT Martin, Roberts compiled a 34-27-12 record, including a 19-3-1 home mark over his final three seasons. Under his tutelage, the Skyhawks had five first-team All-OVC players, five All-OVC Newcomer players, nine OVC All-Tournament players, 16 OVC Players of the Week, 41 players on the OVC Commissioner's Honor Roll and three players who received an OVC Medal of Honor (4.0 GPA).
Prior to UT Martin, Roberts spent two seasons as an associate head men's coach at Virginia Military Institute. He helped VMI to the 16th-most improved Division I record in the nation in 2005 as it earned its first winning season in 16 years. He was nominated for the prestigious National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) assistant coach of the year award for his work with the Keydets.
Prior to VMI, Roberts was an assistant at Saint Mary's College of California where he helped the Gaels to a No. 24 ranking in the nation during his time. He began his collegiate coaching career at Park University (Mo.) where he was an assistant men's and women's coach for both teams ranked in the top 10 nationally in NAIA.
Roberts was a four-year starter and captain at Park for the nationally ranked Pirates. He received all-region accolades for his performance in the 1992 season. He received his bachelor's degree in education with a concentration in athletic training and biology from Park in 1997 and his master's degree in education from Park in 2003. He is currently pursuing a master's of kinesiology from Saint Mary's.
Roberts participated in national schoolboy team tryouts in England at an early age and went on to obtain semi-professional and professional playing experiences with Wolverhampton Wanderers, Oxford United, Kidderminster Harriers and Worcester City.
Roberts holds his United States Soccer Federation (USSF) 'A' License, NSCAA Premier License, NSCAA Goalkeeper Diploma, USSF Youth Specialist License and his English Football Association Coaching License.