Ashland University director of athletics Al King named Taylor Clarke as the full-time women's soccer head coach on Wednesday (Feb. 20). He served as the interim head coach during the 2018 season.
"Since the end of the season I've had the opportunity to sit down with Taylor and discuss, at length, his vision for this program," King said. "His goals align with those of the athletic department and the university. Taylor wants to be at Ashland and he's determined to keep building this program. He wants to take the strong foundation Danny Krispinsky put in place and add to it. I know this - with Taylor, our women's soccer program will keep pushing to get better in every facet. He's ambitious and driven to succeed and those attributes will be passed along to our student-athletes."
"I want to thank Al King, Assistant Athletic Directors Adam Bracken and Heather Gable, and President Carlos Campo for this incredible opportunity to serve Ashland University," Clarke said. "This is such an important community to me and I could not be more excited to continue to build relationships here and move the program forward."
Clarke took over the program in the interim in July as the late former coach Krispinsky stepped away as he continued his health battle.
"Most importantly, I want to thank DK who gave me the opportunity to come to Ashland five years ago and begin my career," Clarke said. "As always, we will continue to honor him in everything that we do."
The Eagles achieved a 10-5-5 overall record in 2018 and qualified for their first NCAA Tournament since 2004. It was the program's sixth straight season with at least 10 wins.
Ashland started the season on an 11-game unbeaten streak that included a scoreless draw against then-No. 3 Grand Valley State. It was the first result against the Lakers since 2005.
Ashland went on to win a GLIAC Tournament quarterfinal game, 1-0, at Michigan Tech, before falling to the Lakers in the semifinal. The Eagles lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to Ohio Valley, 1-0, in Big Rapids, Mich.
"Taylor did an outstanding job in directing our women's soccer program last season," said King. "His leadership skills, his work ethic, his attention to detail were all on display and those set the tone for a successful season. I saw these characteristics several years ago when Taylor was an assistant coach here. He's continued to grow and add to his body of knowledge. He's a young coach who continues to seek out ways to improve."
Four AU players were selected to the All-GLIAC teams, including sophomore Hannah Lee, who was named the GLIAC Goalkeeper of the Year. Junior defender Sydney Wright was a first team selection and freshman midfielder Bella Petrock was named to the second team. Freshman defender Tori Baker was an honorable mention selection.
"Ashland University Athletics has the tradition of being a place where student-athletes can be challenged, develop the skills to be successful, and ultimately leave the university in a better place than they found it," Clarke said. "Our program will continue to seek and provide these types of experiences, with the goal of helping our players achieve more in all aspects of their lives."
Clarke came to Ashland after serving as the assistant men's soccer coach at Calvin (Mich.) College where he helped the Knights to a 21-1-1 record while leading NCAA Division III in scoring.
In 2016, Clarke was the assistant men's soccer coach at the University of North Carolina Wilmington as the Seahawks earned a top 20 national ranking at the Division I level.
He got his first stint in coaching as the women's soccer graduate assistant under Krispinsky during the 2014 and 2015 seasons when the Eagles went 26-11-1.
Clarke played collegiate soccer at fellow GLIAC member school Saginaw Valley State University where he earned a bachelor's degree in educational history. He helped the Cardinals win two GLIAC championships and a Midwest Regional title as he captained the 2012 team to the NCAA Division II championship game. He was a three-year captain and four-year member of the GLIAC All-Academic team.
A native of Cary, Ill., Clarke earned his Master of Education degree from Ashland in 2016.