The James C. Gentle Head Coach of Men’s Soccer, Rudy Fuller enters his 15th season at the helm of the University of Pennsylvania men’s soccer program in 2012. In his tenure at Penn, Fuller has elevated the Quakers’ notoriety in the Ivy League and nationally. From renovating Rhodes Field to recruiting some of the best players in the country and stacking the Quakers’ schedule with NCAA contenders, Fuller’s club has established itself as one of the elite soccer programs in the country.
2011 saw Fuller become the fourth coach in program history to reach the 100-win mark as he did so in the season-opener at La Salle. The Quakers finished 2011 with an 8-7-2 mark overall, but finished strong with wins over Ivy League rivals Princeton and Harvard. Duke Lacroix was named Ivy League Rookie of the Year, while seniors Thomas Brandt and Christian Barreiro were named first-team All-Ivy to go with NSCAA All-Region honors. Senior defender Jake Levin was a second-team All-Ivy selection, becoming just the second player in program history to earn All-Ivy honors all four years. Following the campaign, Major League Soccer came calling to Penn as both Brandt (Philadelphia Union) and Barreiro (New York Red Bulls) were selected in the MLS Supplemental Draft.
In 2010, Fuller lead the Red and Blue back to the NCAA Tournament following a 13-6-0 record and a 5-2-0 performance inside the Ivy League. The 13 wins tied the 2010 club with the 1971 and 1973 teams for second-most wins in a season and set a record for Fuller-lead teams. The Quakers won their first round game in the national tournament -- defeating Bucknell in overtime, 1-0, in front of a packed Rhodes Field -- before bowing out at the hands of Maryland in the second round. Defense was once again the hallmark of Fuller's club in 2010, with goalkeeper Ben Berg recording nine shotouts and the defensive corps holding opposing teams off the scoreboard for 549:40 of game play over parts of six matches. At the end of the season, three players were named first-team All-Ivy and seven total players received All-Ivy honors. Thomas Brandt was also named NSCAA first-team All-Region and an ECAC All-Star.
The 2008 season was reminiscent of Penn's golden age of soccer. The squad shattered both team and individual records and captured the school's seventh Ivy League title. Fuller's commitment to team defense was evident as the Red and Blue shut out opponents in the first 673:25 minutes of the season. Unbeaten through the first 10 games, Penn registered a program-best 11 shutouts on the season.
In 2006, Penn finished 9-4-2 and 5-1-1 for second place in the Ivy League. The Quakers boasted the League’s lowest goals-against average and returned a solid core of defenders in 2007. That group was tested early with a cross-country trek to take on Cal and Stanford. Additional non-conference challengers on the 2007 slate included national powers the likes of Seton Hall, Penn State and Rutgers, proving Penn’s commitment to competing on the national scene.
Speaking of being noticed nationally, Fuller boasts three former players drafted to Major League Soccer. In 2009, midfielder Alex Grendi was taken by the Columbus Crew. Two years prior, goalkeeper Daniel Cepero was called to the New York Red Bulls. Fellow keeper Matthew Haefner was drafted by the Crew in 2004.
Each of Fuller’s 13 seasons has brought some new success. In 2005, the Quakers finished 9-6-1, were ranked as high as No. 18 nationally and won the Philadelphia Soccer Seven (PS7) title. Fuller was named the PS7 Coach of the Year—an honor he had previously earned in 2001 and 2002 and received again in 2006.
At the beginning of the decade, the program went from the basement of the Ivy League to champions in two seasons. The 2002 Penn squad finished with a 12-4-1 record, captured its first Ivy League championship in 22 years, earned its first NCAA Tournament bid in 25 years and its first NCAA Tournament win in 29 years.
Penn was ranked as high as 14th in the nation during the season and spent much of the year in the Top 25. Penn goalkeeper Haefner was named third-team NSCAA All-America, becoming Penn’s first All-America since 1984. Haefner also became Penn’s first men’s soccer player to be named Ivy League Player of the Year.
Following the season, Fuller was named the 2002 Mid-Atlantic Region Coach of the Year by the NSCAA and 2002 Men’s Soccer Coach of the Year by the SEPSCA.
The Quakers set three program records in 2002 — shutouts in a season (10) (bested in 2008 with 11), lowest goals-against average (0.45) and highest save percentage in a season (.923). The 2002 squad also allowed the second-fewest goals in the program’s history in a single season with seven. Haefner also set individual goalkeeping records that reflected the team marks from 2002.
In the category of individual honors, Fuller has coached 56 All-Ivy honorees, 14 NSCAA All-Mid Atlantic Region players and 23 PS7 All-Stars.
Fuller’s student-athletes have also excelled in the classroom during his tenure. Penn has found itself among the best and brightest and has been honored with the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s Team Academic Award for the past 10 seasons. The Quakers’ team GPA has been in the top-10 nationwide in each of the past nine years, and in 2000, they earned the highest GPA of any Division I men’s soccer program. In 2008, Omid Shokoufandeh was named a third team Academic All-America selection. He is the first Penn men's soccer student-athlete to earn that status. In 2010, Steven Schlaefer was named Academi All-District by CoSIDA
Penn is one of just 14 institutions—and the only Ivy League school—to have both its men’s and women’s soccer teams honored by the NSCAA for its academics, and it has happened eight times.
Prior to Penn, Fuller played a major role as a student-athlete and coach in building a successful program at Georgetown University. While coaching at Georgetown, Fuller helped guide the Hoyas to the first two NCAA tournaments in their history and the NCAA Round of 16 in 1997.
Fuller has served on the staff of the Region I Olympic Development Program (ODP) and the Eastern Pennsylvania (EPa) ODP. In 2002, Fuller helped lead the EPa 1984 Boys ODP team to the National Championship, and his EPa 1987 Boys ODP team was a Region I ODP Championship finalist. Fuller has led the last six ODP teams to the Region I finals and has captured four titles. Prior to joining the Region I and Eastern Pennsylvania staffs, Fuller was a part of the Maryland ODP for 13 years, four as a player and nine as a coach.
Fuller served on the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Committee and was chair of the NCAA Division I Middle Atlantic Regional Advisory Committee. He also sat on the NSCAA/adidas College Ranking Committee for the Mid-Atlantic Region and is a member of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.
Most recently, Fuller began serving as a scout for U.S. Soccer in the inaugural season of the Development Academy. In addition, he served as an assistant coach at the 2008 and 2009 U-15 National team camps.
Fuller, a USSF "A" Licensed coached, graduated from Georgetown with a bachelor of science in business administration in 1993 and earned his MBA degree at Villanova in 2003. He founded and currently serves as the director of the Elite 300 Soccer Academy.
Fuller and his wife, Kate; sons Reilly and Liam; and daughter Fiona reside in Philadelphia.