FAYETTEVILLE – Colby Hale, hired last month as Arkansas’ head soccer coach, has completed his staff with the addition of Ben Strawbridge and Mario Rincon as assistant coaches, he announced on Monday.
Strawbridge just completed his sixth season as head coach at Florida Southern College. Rincon was an assistant at Army in 2011 after spending the three previous seasons as an assistant at Florida Gulf Coast University.
Strawbridge was the head coach at Division II Florida Southern College from 2006-11 and guided the Moccasins to four consecutive 10-win seasons from 2007-10.
Strawbridge will coach the defense, recruit, handle videos and coordinate fitness training. Rincon is the recruiting coordinator, will coach the goalkeepers and handle day-to-day organizational details.
"I couldn’t be happier with the addition of Ben and Mario," Hale says. "With any staff, you look for complimentary personalities and strengths. It couldn’t have worked out more perfect.
"Ben has the experience of being a successful head coach, turning a program around, and will provide the personality and knowledge that will benefit the young ladies and this program immensely. Mario is organized, pays great attention to detail and is one of the hardest workers in the game. At Arkansas, our goals are extremely high, and Ben and Mario have the exact character and skill set needed for the job."
Overall, Strawbridge compiled a 61-42-9 (.576) record in his six seasons, which included a 26-20-2 mark in the Sunshine State Conference, two appearances in the SSC championship game and three trips to the NCAA Tournament (2008-10). Both the SSC championship game and NCAA playoff appearances were the first in team history. Other firsts for the Moccasins were their first national ranking (2008), first win over a ranked opponent (2009), first All-American (2007) and first Academic All-American (2008). Strawbridge also earned a "first" for himself when he was voted the SSC Coach of the Year in 2007.
From 2007-10, Florida Southern was 48-24-8 for a .650 winning percentage overall and 22-9-1 for a .703 winning percentage in SSC regular-season play.
In Strawbridge’s six seasons, Florida Southern faced 27 nationally ranked opponents, including five in 2011 and in 2010. In 2009 and 2010, the Mocs upset top 10 teams on the road, earning a 2-1 overtime win at No. 9 Franklin Pierce (NH) in 2009 and a 3-2 overtime win at No. 2 West Florida in 2010. They also tied No. 2 Columbus State in 2010.
Strawbridge and the Moccasins were at their best in 2010 against the best teams on the schedule. En route to a 10-5-4 overall record, the Mocs defeated four teams which won conference regular-season or tournament championships (West Florida, Abilene Christian, Nova Southeastern and Tampa), and tied another (Columbus State). They also played national semifinalist Florida Tech to a tie twice, including once in the NCAA South Region Tournament where the Panthers needed penalty kicks to advance past Florida Southern. The Mocs played seven of the top 16 scoring offenses in the nation in 2010, beating four of them and tying two others.
In 2010, Florida Southern earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the third year in a row. 2010 also saw Florida Southern achieve its highest national ranking in program history when the Moccasins moved up to No. 12 in the NSCAA poll after defeating West Florida. They spent the next six weeks ranked in the top 20 and finished the regular season at No. 25. In the NCAA regional rankings, the Moccasins reached No. 1 for the first time ever on Oct. 27, 2010.
Prior to his arrival at Florida Southern, Strawbridge was the assistant women’s soccer coach at Division I Liberty University from 2002-05 under James Price. In his final season with the Flames, he helped Liberty win the 2005 Big South Conference championship and earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament. The Flames were 12-7-2 overall and 5-3 in the Big South, giving them a winning conference record all four years Strawbridge was an assistant, including 2002 when they were undefeated in league play.
Strawbridge also played at Liberty, where he started all 67 games from 1998-2001 as a defender. During that time, he established himself as one of the best players to ever wear a Flames uniform. He was two-time All-South Atlantic Region and was the first player in team history to earn first-team All-Big South honors three straight years. His play in 1999 helped Liberty goalkeeper Dean Short set a Big South Conference record with 10 shutouts.Strawbridge earned his bachelor’s degree in communication from Liberty in 2002 and his master’s in business administration in 2006. He and his wife, Kristy, have two daughters, Aslyn and Maryn, and a son, Hackett.
Rincon has 15 years of coaching experience, including helping start the program at FGCU with a 32-16-6 mark in his three seasons (2008-10). He helped the 2010 team finish 11-5-3 overall with a school-record .658 winning percentage and 6-2-2 mark in the Atlantic Sun Conference. He helped Army to a 12-4-5 mark in 2011.
Prior to his stint at FGCU, Rincon was on the staffs at Wright State, Baylor, Duke, Miami and Lynn University. During his two-year stay at Wright State (2006-07), Rincon helped the Raiders to a 23-8-5 mark.
Rincon spent two years at Baylor (2004-05) where he was instrumental in recruiting a freshman class that Soccer Buzz ranked nationally in 2004. Three players earned All-Big XII conference honors, eight were named to the academic unit along with goalkeeper Ashley Holder being invited to the U-21 Women’s National Team training camp.
An excellent recruiter, he helped bring in a freshman class that ranked No. 8 by Soccer Buzz during his one-year stay at Duke. Five players were all-conference selections that fall with another named to the SCAA All-Southeast Region first team. In addition, he was instrumental in the development of an Atlantic Coast Conference first-team goalkeeper who was part of the Icelandic National Team at the Pre-World Cup Qualifier.
After joining the Miami staff in the fall of 2000, Rincon served as the interim coach from February-July 2001. He played a key role in helping the school earn its first national ranking along with receiving a bid to the 2001 NCAA Tournament. He also assisted in the development of the school’s first player to earn a spot on the Mexican National Team. Rincon broke into the collegiate coaching ranks at Lynn University and was instrumental in helping the Fighting Knights to three NCAA Division II Final Four finishes, including winning the national title (19-1-0) in 1998 and runner-up honors in 1996 (20-1-0) along with reaching the semifinals in 1997 (19-2-0).
Rincon earned his degree in business administration from Lynn in 1999 after playing college soccer at Central Florida (1990-93). In addition to collegiate coaching, Rincon was the team administrator, scout and coach with Major League Soccer’s New York Metrostars (Jan. 1999-April 2000). The team won the Eastern Conference title with Rodrigo Faria earning 2001 MLS Rookie of the Year honors.
An Olympic Development coach for girls’ soccer since 1998 in the states of Florida, Ohio and North Texas, along with being a member of the Region II staff in 1992 and 1994, Rincon holds a United Soccer Federation "A" License and a NSCAA Advanced National License.
Hale moved to Fayetteville as Arkansas’ new head coach after spending the last nine years at Central Florida, including the last five as associate head coach. In those nine years, he helped UCF to 130 wins (130-50-22) with six conference championships (four in Conference USA and two in the Atlantic Sun), seven NCAA Tournament bids and eight wins in the postseason.