Herd’s new leader becomes fifth coach in program history

Marshall Director of Athletics Christian Spears announced Rafa Simoes as the fifth head coach in Marshall Women’s Soccer history on Friday.

Simoes was selected for the position after an extensive search led by the hiring committee, which included Spears, Marshall Men’s Soccer Coach Chris Grassie, Marshall Executive Associate Athletic Director for Championship Planning and Resources Debra Boughton and Rebecca Reuss, Assistant to the Executive Associate Athletic Director.

Simoes will be introduced during a press conference in the week of Jan. 21. More details on that press conference are to come.

“This was an awesome head coach search – not only because of the result but because of what the process helped us discover about Marshall and the people we already have right here. They are special!” Spears said. “We knew we wanted someone who could help us recruit, as well as prepare, plan and train, at an elite level, similar to what our men’s program has produced. We are so grateful to Coach Grassie and our search committee who ensured we did not lose our focus related to those objectives.”

Simoes said he is eager for the challenge of making Marshall Women’s Soccer a championship contender in the Sun Belt Conference.

“It is a true honor and a privilege to accept the position as the next Head Coach for Marshall Women’s Soccer,” Simoes said. “My goal is to not only elevate the women’s program to the level of excellence associated with Marshall Soccer, but to bring the community together in support of our student-athletes.

“I want to thank my wife, Rebecca, for without her I could not be here, and my mentors Chris Grassie, Marco Antonio and Fabio Oliveira, who have helped shape me as a coach and as a person. Finally, I want to thank Christian Spears, Debra Boughton and Rebecca Reuss for their trust in my vision, and support to bring this program to a standard of excellence and national recognition.”

In his new role, Simoes returns to the women’s game where he spent four seasons as an assistant for Nova Southeastern (2021-22) and Ohio (2019-20).

Simoes helped lead Nova Southeastern to a 1-0 victory over No. 17 Florida Tech in Sunshine State Conference play while helping Louise Matsgard and Chama Silva to all-league honors.

During the 2019 season with Ohio, Simoes was part of a Bobcats team that won its first six matches of the season and advanced to the Mid-American Conference Tournament semifinals while scoring 39 goals on the season. Four players were named All-MAC, led by Alivia Milesky and Abby Townsend who were named as first-team honorees.

Following his time at Nova Southeastern, Simoes returned to Huntington for his second stint as an assistant coach for Marshall’s men’s soccer team under Grassie, helping the Herd to a 29-7-4 record over the past two seasons, which included the 2023 Sun Belt Conference Championship and the No. 1 overall seed in the 2023 NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament.

In addition to a championship mentality, Simoes brings an emphasis on creating a family culture within the program and in the community.

“We knew we wanted someone who would honor our goal of ensuring our student-athletes have a transformational experience while here, not just a transactional one,” Spears said. “We accomplished those goals with the hiring of Rafa Simoes and we are tremendously excited to announce him as the fifth head coach in the history of Marshall Women’s Soccer.”

In addition to his roles in the collegiate game, Simoes has a well-established rapport with the West Virginia and Tri-State soccer communities through his work with the West Virginia Olympic Development Program and West Virginia Football Club.

Simoes said that, as his dream of being a Division I head coach becomes reality, he also wants to ensure that the dreams of his players are also realized.

“I am coming here to help these strong, young women make their dreams come true, and I look forward to building another program that Marshall and the Herd community can be proud of,” Simoes said.

For all the latest information about Marshall Women’s Soccer, follow @HerdWSoccer on Twitter and Instagram.

**Press release from Marshall University – HERDZONE – 12/29/2023 11:10:00 AM | Women’s Soccer

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