For a women’s soccer coach who says he hadn’t seen women play before he arrived in La Jolla 15 years ago, UCSD coach Brian McManus has done pretty well in his chosen profession.
Now in his 15th season as top Triton, all McManus has done at an academically rigorous school that doesn’t offer athletic scholarships is win six NCAA championships, including three in a row from 1995-97.
Last year, when the Tritons moved up from Division III and started the season an unspectacular – by their own standards – 4-2, McManus’ squad proceeded to run off a team-record 17 consecutive wins en route to the NCAA Division II title. It was the first time an NCAA team in any sport won back-to-back championships while moving up a division.
On Friday, when UCSD hosts the Division II Final Four at Triton Stadium beginning at 5 p.m., McManus and the Tritons will continue the defense of their title and try to extend their postseason winning streak to 16 games.
Following the matchup between No. 1 Franklin Pierce (N.H.) and No. 2 Christian Brothers (Tenn.), the No. 5 Tritons take on No. 3 Northern Kentucky at 7:30 p.m. in a rematch of last year’s title game, won 2-1 by UCSD.
For the coach who emigrated from Scotland more than 20 years ago, McManus’ success at UCSD is a direct reflection of the way he learned to play the game on the fields of Edinburgh.
“I like players that love to play the game,” said McManus, who played semi-professionally at 15. “I always tried to play the game with a lot of enthusiasm, and I think if you get players that play with a lot of enthusiasm it makes up for what they lack in the finer skills.”