It is no coincidence that success has followed University of Virginia head coach Steve Swanson throughout his career. In his 23rd season as a head coach, his 13th at Virginia, he has established himself as one of the elite coaches in collegiate soccer, and certainly one of the most respected. Swanson has led his teams to five conference championships, 17 NCAA Tournament appearances and 21 consecutive winning seasons during his 22-year career.
Swanson came to Virginia after two highly successful stops at Stanford and Dartmouth. At Dartmouth, Swanson guided the Big Green to national prominence. He did an equally impressive job at Stanford, helping maintain the program's standing as one of the premier teams in the country while leading the Cardinal to two Pac-10 titles in four seasons. In 2004, he led Virginia to the first ACC Championship in school history, making him the only coach in Division I history to win titles in three different conferences. Swanson also enjoyed success as a player in college and as a professional.
In addition to his collegiate coaching experience, Swanson has been associated with the United States youth national teams for over a decade and he was named head coach of the U-20 Women's National Team in 2011. It is the third different age group he has led for the US Soccer Federation.
As Swanson begins his 13th year as head coach of the Virginia women's soccer team, he's already had a dramatic impact on the program since he replaced former United States National Team Head Coach April Heinrichs in the spring of 2000. After 12 years, the Cavaliers are 170-66-33 (.693) under his direction, as Swanson has the highest winning percentage in the history of the program.
Last season, Swanson led Virginia to a 17-5-2 record and a NCAA quarterfinal appearance. It was the seventh consecutive year the Cavaliers had reached at least the round of 16 of the postseason. In 2010, the Cavaliers posted a 15-5-2 record, highlighted by a 3-2 overtime win over No. 1 Boston College, the program's first win over a top-ranked team and Swanson's 250th career victory. The Cavaliers went 10-6-6 in 2009 and 15-5-3 in 2008, reaching the NCAA round of 16 both seasons. In 2007, the Cavaliers went 13-4-6 and reached the round of 16 of the NCAA Tournament. A strong defense highlighted that year as Virginia led the nation with a 0.40 goals against average and set a school record with 15 shutouts.
In 2006, Virginia went 12-8-2, reaching the round of 16 of the NCAA Tournament. During the year, Swanson recorded his 200th career win and his 100th win at Virginia. In 2005, the Cavaliers tied a school record for wins in a season with 18. The team reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament for the third time in school history and finished the year with a top-10 ranking for the fourth time in the past five years.
In 2004, Swanson led the Cavaliers to a historic season, as the team captured its first ACC Championship, defeating North Carolina in penalty kicks in the tournament final and snapping the Tar Heels' 15-year ACC Championship streak. Virginia set six different season school records during the season, including most goals and fewest goals allowed. The Cavaliers were the No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, the highest seed in school history, as they made their 11th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. The team concluded the season with a 17-3-2 record, and a No. 2 national ranking by Soccer America.
In 2003, the Cavaliers posted a 12-5-4 record and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The previous season, Swanson led a young Cavalier team with 10 freshmen on the 23 player roster to a 13-7-2 record and a second place finish in the ACC for the second consecutive year. The team defeated Dayton and No. 5 seed West Virginia in the NCAA Tournament to reach the round of 16 for the fourth consecutive season. He guided the team to a 17-4-2 overall record, 5-2 in the ACC and 7-0 against in-state teams, during the 2001 season. UVa finished second in the ACC during the regular season and advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament before losing 3-2 to eventual national champion Santa Clara. The loss marked the second time in as many years the Cavaliers' national title hopes were ended by the eventual national champion. In Swanson's first year at UVa in 2000, Virginia finished with an 11-8-1 record and advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament before losing 2-1 to eventual national champion North Carolina.
During his four seasons at Stanford, Swanson guided the Cardinal to an overall record of 48-27-4, two Pac-10 championships and three NCAA Tournament appearances. His 1999 squad finished with an impressive 14-4-1 record, captured a Pac-10 title and advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament. Three of Swanson's players were named to the 1998 All-Pac-10 team and four earned Pac-10 All-Academic recognition. Swanson also coached the 1998 Pac-10 Co-Player of the Year. In 1999, he was honored as the Pac-10 Coach of the Year.
In his first year at the helm of the Cardinal, Swanson led his team to a first-place finish in the Pac-10 and a spot in the 1996 NCAA Tournament. In both 1998 and 1999, his recruiting classes were ranked among the top six by national publications. The 1999 recruiting class was ranked first by Soccer America. Among that class were three members of the U.S. National Under-18 team and three Parade All-Americans.
Prior to serving as Stanford's head coach, Swanson served as both the head women's soccer coach and assistant director of athletics at Dartmouth College from 1990-1995. During his years at Dartmouth, he transformed the Big Green into a national powerhouse with an overall record of 55-35-7 (.603). Under his guidance, Dartmouth made its first two NCAA Tournament appearances in school history (1993 and 1994) and won its first two Ivy League Championships in school history (1991 and 1993). During his last three years at the helm, the Big Green was ranked in the year-end top 20. Named New England Coach of the Year in 1992, Swanson led his team to an undefeated conference season the following year en route to winning the Ivy League title for the second time in three years. His 1993 Dartmouth squad not only went through league play undefeated, but also was unscored upon in the conference.
Swanson has coached 20 All-Americans, eight conference players of the year, and 73 all-conference selections. Of his former players at Dartmouth, Stanford and Virginia, 24 have played professionally in the WUSA or WPS. In 2002, Swanson became the third coach to win at least 40 games with three different NCAA Division I women's soccer programs.
Swanson has been heavily involved with the United States youth National Teams. In addition to being the current head coach of the U-20 National Team, he was the head coach of the U-16 National Team and head coach of the U-18 National Team from 2000-02. In addition, Swanson has been an assistant coach with the U-17, U-18, U-19 and U-20 National Teams in recent years.
Swanson holds an `A' license from the United States Soccer Federation and earned a master's degree in physical education (athletic administration and coaching) from the University of Iowa in 1989. In addition, Swanson was the Girls Director of the Upper Valley Lightning Soccer Club in New Hampshire and the head coach of the West High School boys team in Iowa City, Iowa (1987-89). He also helped initiate the youth soccer programs for the Milwaukee Wave professional club of the American Indoor Soccer Association.
A graduate of Michigan State in 1984, Swanson played professionally in the United States and Canada for four years before returning to school to obtain his master's degree at Iowa. He played more than 150 consecutive games in tours of duty with the Milwaukee Wave and the Chicago Shoccers of the American Indoor Soccer Association, and with AC Roma and the Windsor Wheels in the National Soccer League of Canada (NSLC). While at Michigan State, Swanson was a four-year letterwinner in soccer. He was the team's leading scorer, captain and a regional All-American his senior year.
Swanson and his wife Julie have three children, daughters Alexis and Kelsey, and son Sam.