AMHERST, Mass. - Following a two-year battle with cancer, University of Massachusetts men's soccer coach Sam Koch passed away on Sunday evening, July 20, at his home in Hadley.
Originally hired at UMass for what was planned as the final year of the program in 1991, Koch (pronounced: coke) is credited for not only saving it but helping it thrive as one of the top teams in New England.
"We have lost a great coach and friend with Sam's passing," said UMass Director of Athletics John McCutcheon. "His wonderful spirit and caring way will be missed by all of us and we are grateful to have had Sam in our lives."
Funeral services will be held at noon on Sunday, Aug. 3 in the Memorial Chapel at Northfield Mount Hermon.
Koch, 59, compiled a 222-182-45 record in 23 seasons at UMass, advancing to the NCAA postseason three times (2001, 2007 and 2008), including the 2007 NCAA College Cup Semifinals. He also coached six seasons at Stanford University from 1984-89 and went 58-53-16. His 280 career victories entering the fall placed him 21st among active Division I head coaches and 50th all-time in Division I history.
In addition to the NCAA tourney success, the Minutemen won four regular-season Atlantic 10 titles, two Atlantic 10 Tournament titles. During his tenure in Amherst, the 29-year head coaching veteran produced two All-Americans in Jeff Deren (2001-02) and Zack Simmons (2007), three Academic All-Americans, one Academic All-American of the Year, a two-time Atlantic 10 Offensive Player of the Year, an Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year, an Atlantic 10 Midfielder of the Year, two Atlantic 10 Rookies of the year, two Atlantic 10 Tournament MVPs, 27 All-Region selections, 62 All-Atlantic 10 players, 29 Academic All-Atlantic 10 honorees, two players to the Atlantic 10 All-Conference Teams, a two-time Atlantic 10 Scholar-Athlete of the Year and 23 Atlantic 10 All-Tournament picks.
Koch recorded 13 winning seasons with five-straight from 1999-2003, the most since UMass had six straight from 1969-74. Koch's teams notched 13 10-win seasons in Amherst, while the program had only managed that feat three times in the school's history prior to his arrival.
The winningest men's soccer coach in UMass history, Koch passed legendary coach Lawrence Briggs with his 124th win, a 3-2 victory over Towson in the opening game of the 2002 Navy Classic. He then picked up his 200th career win on Oct. 3, 2003, with a 3-0 victory over George Washington. The 2004 match at George Washington was also a historical moment for Koch as he notched his 150th win at UMass. George Washington gave Koch his 250th career win on Oct. 26, 2008 which earned him a congratulations card from former UMass basketball coach and current Kentucky bench boss John Calipari.
For his success at UMass, Koch has four times been named the A-10 Coach of the Year, claiming the honor first in 1992 when he also picked up New England Coach of the Year accolades. Koch again took the conference's top coaching honor in 1994 after leading the Minutemen to their first-ever Atlantic 10 regular-season title, and then again in 2002 and 2008. In 2007 and 2008, he was a finalist for the NSCAA/adidas National Coach of the Year after leading UMass to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time in program history.
Before coming to UMass, Koch was the head coach at Stanford from 1984-89. While in Palo Alto, he compiled a record of 58-53-16. In 1987, he was named Pacific Soccer Conference Coach of the Year by his peers.
Prior to his six seasons at Stanford, Koch was an assistant coach at Brown University and Boston College, as well as a staff instructor at the U.S. Soccer School. Since 1985, he has been a member of the Western Region Olympic Development coaching staff. Koch holds the United States Soccer Federation "A" License and the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Advanced National Diploma.
Koch was a four-year soccer letterwinner at Colby College where he earned a B.S. in History and Environmental Science in 1979.
A native of Concord, Koch is survived by his wife, Suzanne, and their four children, Christopher, Jeffrey, Benjamin and Katherine.