Overall Record: 128-67-28
The University of Pennsylvania women’s soccer program’s all-time winningest coach, Darren Ambrose has never had a losing season in his 13 years overseeing the program. He has coached the team’s first All-America, NSCAA Scholar All-America, CoSIDA Academic All-America of the Year, Ivy League Player of the Year, and Ivy League Rookies of the Year. In addition, he brought Penn its only three Ivy League championships (2001, 2007, 2010), three of its four NCAA Championship berths, and an ECAC title in 2000.
Each of the last three seasons, Penn has gone into its final match with an Ivy League championship still a possibility. A tie at Princeton in 2010 gave the Quakers the title over the Tigers that year; in 2011, Penn beat Princeton but finished second behind Harvard; and in 2012 the Quakers needed to beat Princeton to share the title with the Tigers, but fell in Princeton, 4-2.
Each of the last two years, Penn has had three women earn first-team All-Ivy. That had never happened in the history of the program.
Penn finished the 2010 season with a 4-1-2 Ivy record that gave the Red and Blue their second outright title and third overall. The Quakers went to the NCAA Championship for the fourth time, falling to Big Ten champion Penn State 1-0 in the first round. Overall, Penn went 9-7-2 on the season. At the conclusion of the campaign, a Penn player was voted the Ivy League Rookie of the Year (Kerry Scalora) while a pair earned first-team All-Ivy selections (seniors Kaitlin Campbell and Sarah Friedman). The 2010 season also saw Coach Ambrose reach the 100-win milestone at Penn, achieved with the Quakers' 4-3 win over Harvard on Sept. 24.
In 2009 Penn went 10-4-2 overall, the best overall record among Ivy teams and the fourth time the program has reached double-digit wins in a season under Ambrose. The Quakers finished third in the Ivy League at 4-3-0, and had six players earn All-Ivy honors (the third time in five seasons that happened). Senior forward Jessica Fuccello tied the school record for goals in a season, with 16, and was first-team All-Ivy for the second time in her career.
The 2008 season saw the Quakers go 8-6-3 overall and place five women on the All-Ivy teams, including first-team selections Natalie Capuano and Sarah Friedman (who shattered the program record for assists in a season). Capuano ended her career as one of Penn's most decorated players as a three-time first-team All-Ivy and NSCAA all-region selection, and a number of academic honors including NSCAA Scholar All-America -- a first for the program -- CoSIDA Academic All-District, and Philadelphia Inquirer Academic All-Area. In Ivy League play, Penn was unable to defend its 2007 title, but the Quakers did hand champion Harvard its only conference loss.
The Quakers went 13-4-1 in 2007, finishing one win shy of the program record. The women also went 6-1-0 in Ivy play, earning the program’s first outright Ivy title, and advanced to the NCAA College Cup first round before losing to James Madison, 2-0. When the season finished, Penn had six players named All-Ivy, and two earned regional honors from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA). Perhaps most impressively, Penn was ranked seventh in an always-deep and difficult NSCAA Mid-Atlantic regional poll, its highest finish during Ambrose’s tenure.
In 2006, with a roster that featured only two seniors, Penn went 8-5-3 overall and allowed just 14 goals in 16 matches. In Ivy play, Penn allowed only eight goals in seven contests and had shutouts of Cornell and Yale.
In 2005, a youthful squad went 8-6-3 overall. In the Ivy League, the Quakers tied No. 22 Yale (1-1) and earned shutouts of Cornell and Brown. At the end of the season, six players were given All-Ivy recognition by the conference coaches, behind only conference champion Yale which had seven players honored. The last time Penn had so many women earn All-Ivy was 1997.
In 2004, Ambrose guided Penn to its fourth-straight top-four Ivy League finish, as the Quakers recorded a 4-2-1 mark in the Ancient Eight to finish third in the standings. With his first team comprised entirely of his own recruits, the Red and Blue posted a 9-6-2 overall record. The 2002 team finished with an overall record of 9-5-3 and a 3-3-1 mark in the Ancient Eight, while in 2002 Ambrose coached the Quakers to a third-place finish in the Ivy League, as they lost just one conference game for the second-straight season.
After taking over as head coach in 2000, Ambrose led the squad to a 10-8-1 record and an ECAC Championship that season. He then returned in 2001 to lead his young squad to a record-breaking season. As one of the nation’s up and coming coaches, Ambrose made a strong impression at Penn in a very short time. With just one recruiting class under his belt and a nucleus of returning players from the previous year, Ambrose brought a share of Penn’s first-ever Ivy League title to Philadelphia in 2001. The regular-season record of 13-1-3 remains the best in the program's 15-year history.
Ambrose has also focused on helping his student-athletes balance the demands of the classroom, no easy feat at an Ivy League institution. Under Ambrose, 80 percent of the Penn women’s soccer players have had GPAs over 3.0, and the team is an eight-time recipient of the NSCAA Team Academic Award.
Since arriving at Penn, Ambrose has also taken on a variety of roles within the local soccer community -- in fact, in March 2007 he was head coach of Eastern Pennsylvania's Girls' 1989 Olympic Development Program (ODP) team that won the national ODP title. It marked the second time Ambrose has been associated with an ODP national champion, as he assisted the EPYSA’s winning U-17 team in March 2002. He has also served as the goalkeeper coach for the WUSA’s Philadelphia Charge and as a regional staff coach for Region I ODP.
Before joining the Red and Blue, Ambrose served as an assistant coach at Florida State University in 1999 under former Penn Head Coach Patrick Baker. At FSU, he helped Baker produce the 13th-best recruiting class in the nation and saw the team register its best season in the program’s then five-year history.
Prior to his stint at FSU, Ambrose spent three years as the women’s and men’s assistant coach at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn. He was an integral part of the success of programs that had a combined record of 77-33-3, a Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) championship and three other second-place finishes, as well as three NCAA Tournament appearances.
Ambrose began his coaching career at Rhodes as a graduate assistant for both programs from 1993-95. He then went to the University of Connecticut to be the men's assistant coach under legendary head coach Joe Morrone, before returning to Rhodes in the fall of 1996.
Ambrose was active in youth soccer in Memphis. During his two years as head coach of the Memphis FC ‘81 girls' team, he led them to the 1998 Tennessee state club title. He also directed the team to victory in Europe, where his team was crowned champion in the women’s open division of the Dana Cup in Denmark (1998). Ambrose served as a regional staff coach for the Olympic Development Program in Regions II and III for more than five years. He was also an ODP state staff coach in both Tennessee and Florida.
Ambrose, who holds a United States Soccer Federation (USSF) “A” License and a National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Advanced National Diploma, has also taken an active role in soccer education programs. He served as an instructor for the Tennessee State Soccer Association, and at Rhodes he taught USSF “E” and “D” license courses to Rhodes players who were beginning their coaching careers in the local community. He also had work published in the Tennessee State Soccer Journal and in the English publication “Entering the Field,” a sociological look at the growth of soccer in the U.S. (1998). Ambrose is also an instructor for NSCAA goalkeeping courses.
Born near Sheffield, England, Ambrose played soccer with the youth programs of Sheffield United of the English League Championship and Doncaster Rovers of the English League first division. He also represented the English Schools Regional Team before coming to the U.S. for his college career at Division II national power USC-Spartanburg (S.C.).
While in goal for the Rifles, Ambrose garnered some impressive honors, including Adidas National Player of the Year in 1992-93. He was also the first USC-Spartanburg player to be named a GTE Academic All-America, in 1992-93. Other honors included GTE Academic All-Region awards in 1991-92 and 1992-93 and being selected as the USC-S Outstanding Senior Student-Athlete in 1992-93. In 2002, Ambrose was inducted into Spartanburg’s Hall of Fame. This balance of academic and athletic achievement is something Ambrose brings to the Penn program on a yearly basis.
Ambrose earned a B.S. in management accounting at USC-S and in 1995 went completed an M.Ed. in sports administration at the University of Memphis.
Ambrose currently resides in southern New Jersey with his wife, Sherry, and daughters Madison and Ainsley.