Knights’ van Rheenen steps down


It has been nearly two decades since Gannon University’s men’s soccer program underwent a coaching change.

Head coach Rob van Rheenen has stepped down after 18 seasons with the Knights.  Gannon’s all-time winningest coach – with 175 matches won – announced Friday morning that he would no longer lead the soccer program.

“I would like to thank all the student-athletes who I was fortunate to coach during my career at Gannon,” van Rheenen said.  “I would also like to thank all the coaches and staff in the athletics department who I had the great pleasure working with.

“I just believe that after 18 seasons, it was time for the program to go in a different direction with a new coach in charge.”

The coaching veteran ranked 23rd among active NCAA Division II coaches in victories (190).  Van Rheenen was twice named conference coach of the year (2003, 2007) and helped Gannon student-athletes earn all-region honors 49 times and all-conference honors 66 times during his tenure.

One of van Rheenen’s recent soccer stars was four-year starter Robbie Bennett, a native of South Africa who completed his career this past season.  He finished with 47 goals and 17 assists combining for 111 points, good for sixth all-time.

Under van Rheenen, Bennett was a three-time Capital One Academic All-American, seven-time all-region, four-time all-conference first-team selection and one very grateful player toward his coach.

“I am very thankful to Rob for giving me the opportunity to come to America and play for the men’s soccer team,” Bennett said.

“I have never worked with a coach who loves the game more than Rob.  His passion for soccer and for the school translated into a successful coaching career at Gannon and he leaves behind a strong legacy.”

The Gannon athletic department – led by Lisa Goddard McGuirk, the university’s athletic director – is already conducting a nationwide search for the next men’s soccer head coach.

“Rob did a great job elevating our men’s soccer program through his tireless dedication, commitment to his student-athletes and expertise,” Goddard McGuirk said of van Rheenen, who also served as an assistant coach for Gannon’s women’s soccer team.

“Rob has truly been a tremendous asset to the athletics department and Gannon University.”

Head women’s soccer coach Colin Petersen was named the men’s interim head coach while the search continues.


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