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    So Why Not A Canadian University or College Coach For Halifax

    By Staff

    Courtesy of the HFX Wanderers:

    The Canadian Premier League appears to be alive and well going into year five with all of the things that they have had to deal with when starting a league from scratch.  Okay, so we’ve lost Edmonton for now, but with Vancouver coming in and all of the mechanizations and moving parts that come with building a national league from scratch in a country as vast as Canada, that still has many changes in its demographics on almost a daily basis, and the sport financially is still alive and kicking and with the financial challenges economically ahead, the league has survived a global pandemic, the loss of some of its stars to bigger leagues, things seem to be pretty good. 

    As we stressed last year, the only thing that is constant in life is change, and in professional sport, if you are not winning you are looking over your shoulder wondering who is coming behind you to take your spot.  Coaches understand that you are hired to be fired, after all, it is easier to get rid of one person at the helm than to get rid of 25 bodies that don’t buy in.  

    In the short history of the CPL, coaches have come and gone already for a variety of reasons.  “It wasn’t working”, “it’s about fit”, “The culture just wasn’t right”.  Regardless of the reason, time is money and if it ain’t working it needs to change.  And such is the nature of professional sports.  As long as you can afford to continue to pay off coaches and buy the “right” kind of players to improve your squad when things don’t work out you will be fine.  But the question is, “How many mistakes can you afford to really make?” 

    Everyone is hoping for the success that Athletico Ottawa enjoyed this past season and the continued excellence with Calvary and Forge, so that the standards have been set. But as with everything in life, somebody’s gotta win, and somebody’s gotta lose. Who will that be in 2023… we’ll see.

    👀 Eyes Emoji - Royalty-Free GIF - Animated Sticker - Free PNG - Animated  Icon

    So on Post Coach, in the yearly right of passage for College and University coaches is here. Let’s take a look at who could possibly take over where the legend Stephen Hart left off with the HFX Wanderers to take them on the next part of their journey.

    Courtesy of

    According to an interview with HFX’s Sporting Director Matt Fegan on the CPL website from November 14, 2022, “we are pleased to say there has been a lot of interest from coaches at every level of the game in and out of Canada. We’ve begun the formal interview phase with a shortlist of candidates who were either targets we always had in mind if the position ever came open or coaches who have come forward since the vacancy opened up. We remain on track to name the person to lead us into the next chapter of the Wanderers before the end of November”.

    And why wouldn’t there be interest? The Halifax job is one of the jewels of the CPL with a rabid loyal fanbase, great ownership, a wonderful city in eastern Canada and a great deal of promise in an up and coming league.

    There are some coaches whom are not on this list this year, that were in year’s past. Some things change, some people fall out of favor, some are not coaching at the post-secondary level and some may have not had the year that they would have liked. We left some of the “Coaches of the Year” off because one for the criteria was that you have to have sustained success and you have done it multiple times, we are not looking at the “one hit wonders”. Please understand that anyone that is coaching at the post-secondary level in Canada “HAS TO KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING OR THEY ARE NOT EMPLOYED FOR LONG.

    So again, we ask, why not a Canadian coach from the University or College ranks here in Canada? It has become the yearly question that we’ve asked the last two years and as long as there is an opening in the CPL coaching ranks the questions will get asked.

    So sit back, relax and enjoy the read on who may be considered the “next one” for the HFX Wanderers.

    Cape Breton University – Deano Morley

    Deano Morley
    Courtesy of Cape Breton Athletics

    So let’s start at the top closest to home.

    Deano Morley has been the CAPERS men’s soccer program Head Coach since 2014. Before becoming the CAPERS head coach, he was an assistant coach from 2007. Prior to his coaching career, Morely was a student-athlete with the men’s CAPERS soccer program from 2004-2006.

    Morely, a native of Nottingham, England has been on the CAPERS coaching staff for all 6 of their AUS championships and all CIS/USports medals (gold, silver & bronze) at Nationals. The head coach for the most recent AUS championship in 2022 and brought the CAPERS to their fifth national championships appearance. Deano also has received the AUS Coach of the Year award twice and USports Coach of the Year Award in 2018.

    Deano understands how to recruit and manage players as he has built a national powerhouse at a school of 5500 students with players from all over Canada and internationally.

    Thought: He’s local, a fantastic recruiter and coaching record speaks for itself. Coach Morley has built Cape Breton into a National power out of really nothing. Does he have that itch to step to the uncertainty of the next level? There have been rumors that he was the “heir apparent” at the beginning of the year if things didn’t go well for the Wanderers in 2022. Does he want to leave to calm of USPORTS for the next level? It all depends on what is behind him. We forget sometimes that there are a number of things that weigh on the decision to leave a school with security for the uncertainty of the professional ranks even if it IS close to home. He would be a very good choice.

    Universite de Montreal – Pat Raimondo

    Pat Raimondo
    Courtesy of U de Montreal Athletics

    U de Montreal’s Pat Raimondo is known behind the bench.

    As many know, in 2000, Coach Raimondo quit his job as coach of one of the most prestigious programs at the time in the country, the McGill Redmen, where he had won a National Championship in 1997, to start fresh and take on the role of head coach for the Montreal Carabins during their inaugural men’s soccer season. Raimondo saw great potential at the rival school.

    Montreal had everything it needed to develop a high-level soccer program, The infrastructure was good, the student population was abundant (65,000), and the city always attracted good athletes.”

    Raimondo had reason to believe in the team’s strength. Since his arrival at Montreal, Raimondo has built a quality packed squad that’s now made it to the last four championship matches, winning two of them. .The Carabins have won two USport silver medals as well and four bronze medals on three other occasions. In the last six seasons, Les Carabins were ranked no lower than number 4 in the USport and have spent multiple weeks just behind number 1 York in the rankings.

    Raimondo has built a powerhouse program of prowess and the cohesion in the last six years as the only head coach that the program has ever known.

    For a program that was often overshadowed on the football pitch prior to the current run of success by Laval Rouge et Or and UQAM Citadins these past few years have been a welcome change.

    In his time at the helm of the Carabin program the first Quebecer to hold a UEFA A license, is the third Quebec coach in history to reach 100 wins at the University level, Raimondo has also led Canada to a fourth place finish at the 2007 Universiade in Thailand and seventh place in 2013 in Russia, the best Canadian results in history to date.  Holder of 11 RSEQ provincial championships between McGill and Montreal, four RSEQ Provincial Indoor Championships, five provincial Coach of the Year awards and two National University Coach of the Year awards,

    Thought: Raimondo would be a good choice to lead Atlético as he is not afraid to make change to be successful when something is not working. Great culture builder.

    Carleton University – Kwesi Loney

    Headshot of Kwesi Loney
    Courtesy of Carleton Athletics

    Kwesi Loney, the 2019 U SPORTS Coach of the Year, entered his eighth season as head coach of the Carleton Ravens men’s soccer program in the fall of 2022 and the Athletico Ottawa assistant, could be seen as one of the favorites to take over the position.

    This past year the Ravens were rebuilding following up a U SPORTS national silver medal in 2021, following up an OUA Championship in 2019, national 3rd place finish in 2018 and a sixth place finish in 2017. In his first season as leader of the Ravens in 2016, Loney led Carleton to a 10-2-4 regular season for the third best mark in the OUA East division. Carleton would go 1-1 in the postseason, with their season ending at Toronto in the conference quarterfinals.

    With a highly-touted rookie class entering the fold in 2017, Loney led the Ravens to a 13-1-2 finish, setting numerous 16-game regular season program records for wins (13), points (41), goals (59) and goals against (10). Carleton captured an OUA silver medal and would go on to finish sixth at nationals after going 1-2 at the championships held at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC.

    Loney was named OUA East Coach of the Year for the 2017 and 2018 and the National Coach of the Year in 2019.

    Coach Loney joined the Ravens as an assistant with the men’s soccer program in 2010. He spent six years working under veteran skipper Sandy Mackie before his appointment as head coach on June 28, 2016. He became the sixth coach in program history.

    Loney currently is the head coach of the OSU entry in the PLSQ. He is a nationally licensed coach with years of experience that has included head coach of Algonquin College men’s soccer (2009) where he won an OCAA Championship and Coach of the Year award, assistant coach of the Ottawa Fury women’s W-League team (2010-2012), and youth head coach of the Ottawa Fury Soccer Club (2004-2009).

    This past season with Athletico Ottawa he learned a great deal and had the opportunity to grow by leaps and bounds. And sometimes, leaving a potential championship side to run your own ship may not be a good move. As coaches go, can you control a situation and more importantly, can you control your ego when considering all factors.

    Thought: Probably one of the best in position to take over the HFX job with his Athletico experience from this past season and may be ready to take the next step. But does he want to leave the National Capital Region, Athletico Ottawa a team going in the right direction and the Ravens’ nest itself.

    Seneca College – Patrice Gheisar

    Patrice Gheisar bio photo
    Courtesy of Seneca Athletics

    Seneca’s Patrice Gheisar may be new to the annual list, but he’s not new to winning, building winning programs and building a winning culture.

    Seneca’s Men’s Head Coach took his Sting to the CCAA National Championship this year and was on the short end of a 2-1 overtime result against the perennial national champions, Humber Hawks. In his four seasons, Coach Gheisar has led the Sting Men to a 31-6-1 Win-Loss-tie record an OCAA Coach of the year award, two provincial bronze medals, one silver medal, a national bronze and a national silver medal.

    Some would say that this is more than enough, but with that being said, Coach Gheisar also won the league “Double” in League 1 Ontario this year with Vaughan Azzurri winning the League with 51 points to the second place Oakville Blue Devils 38 points and the playoff championship. He has been named the League 1 Ontario Coach of the Year and manages a very talented roster of players, so he understands what it would take to be successful at the next level.

    Thought: Probably one of the best new prospects on the scene right now to step in and hit the ground running. He knows and understands talent management, he has a great eye for player development and he has a pool of players that he can reach out to finishing off their University and College careers to fill out a roster that may need some “tweaking”.

    Humber College – Mike Aquino

    Michael Aquino bio photo
    Courtesy of Humber Athletics

    Michael Aquino was named the Humber men’s soccer head coach in June 2013, and has spent ten seasons at the helm of the program into 2022. Aquino initially joined Humber soccer as an assistant coach and served four seasons in the role prior to his promotion to head coach.

    Aquino’s career success cannot be measured by the numbers alone – while, on their own, the numbers are impressive enough. Aquino owns a eight-year coaching career record at Humber of 100-8-7 with a 64-4-7 record in OCAA league play. Those marks include seven 10-win seasons, six CCAA national titles, and seven OCAA provincial championships. Under his guidance, the Hawks average just one loss-per-season.

    Two of the longest streaks in OCAA soccer came under Aquino’s tutelage, including a 43-match unbeaten streak. From September 2015 to October 2017, the Hawks went 42-0-1, including 37 consecutive league and postseason victories. The streak lasted 1,098 days and included 30 clean sheets as the Hawks outscored their opponents 156-18. In 4,020 minutes of game action, Humber only trailed for 14 minutes.

    Aquino won 13 straight CCAA championship matches from 2013 to 2019, surpassing Humber men’s basketball head coach Mike Katz’s record of 12 (1991 to 1996). He has coached four CCAA All-Canadians, one CCAA and four OCAA Players of the Year, and 30 first-team All-Ontario selections. 

    Taking over a program that won the national championship in 2012, Aquino handled the pressure as a rookie head coach with resounding poise. He quickly made soccer the third superpower in Humber varsity history, as the Hawks successfully defended their national title for the first time. Finishing his rookie campaign with a 12-1-1 record, Aquino received his first of three consecutive OCAA Division Coach of the Year awards. 

    In 2016, Aquino was honored as the 2016-17 CCAA Coaching Excellence award recipient. He was the first, and to this date, the only men’s soccer coach to win the CCAA’s most prestigious award for coaching.

    It was seventh heaven for Humber soccer in 2018, as Aquino led the Hawks to the program’s seventh national title and fifth since 2012. It was Humber’s 50th national title as an institution and made the men’s soccer program the most decorated CCAA program in the country.

    With over two decades of experience as an educator, Aquino has taught health and physical education at Brebeuf College School since 2005, where he has coached the boys’ soccer team.

    In September 2019, Aquino was introduced as the new head coach of the Aurora FC League 1 Ontario men’s soccer team after serving several roles within AFC, including assistant technical director. In 2020, he joined the Woodbridge Strikers in League 1 Ontario as an associate Head Coach.

    Thought: Is he willing to leave his teaching duties and uproot his life of certainty for the uncertainty of the pro game? Is Halifax willing to pony up the money for him to do so?

    York University – Carmine Isacco

    York's Carmine Isacco calls unprecedented draft partnership a 'win-win' for  CPL, U SPORTS – Canadian Premier League
    Courtesy of York University Athletics

    The former York United interim head coach and assistant coach

    Carmine Isacco has coached at every level in this country, CPSL, U-Sport, A-League, U-20 National team, MLS with TFC, League 1 Ontario. Isacco was named the head coach of the Lions men’s soccer team in 2007 and has built the program into one of the best in U SPORTS. He is now the master coach of York’s soccer program, overseeing both the men’s and women’s teams, as well was the first assistant coach with the 9 Stripes in its inaugural year in the CPL.
    Isacco led the York Lions to the number one ranking all season with an undefeated record, to the second round of the playoffs, where the Loins this year found heartbreak losing to the Waterloo Warriors 2-1 in the playoffs. The Lions men’s team has made 10 appearances at the national championships with him at the helm and has won four national banners (2008, 2010, 2014-15). They are also five-time OUA champions under his guidance (2007, 2013-15, 2017-18) and have won provincial medals in 12 of the 13 years he has led the program. The Lions have finished first in the OUA West Division in each of his 13 seasons and have earned the No. 1 spot in the weekly U SPORTS rankings at least once in each year since he took over.
    In 2015, he guided the women’s soccer team to an undefeated regular season (15-0-1) and the team was ranked as high as No. 2 in the U SPORTS rankings, and in 2019 he led the women’s squad to the OUA championship, its first in 10 years.
    Isacco is a six-time recipient of the OUA men’s coach of the year award, (2007, 2010, 2012-14, 2016) and has won two OUA women’s coach of the year awards (2015, 2019). He is also a two-time U SPORTS coach of the year (2007, 2014) and a three-time York coach of the year (2010, 2015-16).
    In 2015 he served as a guest coach with the Canadian senior men’s team for a pair of friendlies in advance of World Cup qualifying, and he was an assistant coach with the U22 team at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto.

    Isacco was also part of the inaugural coaching staff for Toronto FC in 2007.
    He joined the Lions after spending two seasons as the head coach of the men’s team at the University of Toronto, where he led the Varsity Blues to a pair of OUA silver medals and a CIS silver medal in 2005. His coaching career has also seen him claim a national championship with the Hearts-Azzurri S.C. in the U18 division. In addition to his role as club head coach for Hearts-Azzurri, he also served as the club’s general manager, responsible for the administration of over 2000 young soccer players. As head coach of Toronto Supra in the Canadian Professional Soccer League (CPSL), Isacco was named coach of the year in 2002 in the Ontario Youth Soccer League.  As the former head coach of the Vaughan Azzurri in League 1 Ontario, Isacco has finished second in 2014 and was the Coach of The Year in the league’s sophomore 2015 season.

    Thought: Would be the odds on favorite, but when you are as successful as Isacco has been at every level, HFX would have to do things on his terms. Is he willing to leave Ontario to move down east?

    University of Guelph – Keith Mason

    Keith Mason - head coach, men's soccer
    Courtesy of Guelph University

    Keith Mason has been at the helm of the Guelph Men’s program since 2000 and 2021 marks is 22nd season. Under Keith’s leadership, the Gryphons men’s soccer team has captured a two OUA titles (2021 & 2016) while also earning a U SPORTS bronze medal in 2016 and a 4th place finish in 2021r. Keith is a two-time OUA West Coach of the Year (2021 & 2011) and is the only coach in U of G men’s soccer history to be named U SPORTS Coach of the Year in 2011. 

    Since taking over as head coach of the University of Guelph’s men’s soccer program, Keith has helped the Gryphons produce a pair of U SPORTS Players of the Year, with Jace Kotsopoulos winning the Joe Johnson Memorial Trophy in 2018, and Robbie Murphy doing so in 2011. Outside of his role with the Gryphons men’s soccer program, Keith Mason has also made a lasting impact at the club level in Guelph, serving as general manager and associate head coach of newly-founded Guelph United F.C. the 2021 League1 Ontario 2021 Premier Division Champions. Overall, the 2021 season marks Keith’s 33rd consecutive season coaching varsity soccer at the University of Guelph, with Keith’s 33-year run as a Gryphon soccer coach first starting back in 1989 when he served as head coach of the U of G women’s soccer team.

    Keith has also been a member of three FISU World University Games Staffs: 2003 in Daegu, South Korea and 2011 in Shenzhen, China as an assistant coach and as the head coach in 2015 in Gwangju, South Korea.

    Thought: As with other long time coaches, may not want to move since he is ingrained in the fabric of the Guelph Soccer community, but also may welcome the challenge after winning League 1 Ontario and having a good showing this past year versus the very same HFX Wanderers in the 2022 Nutralite Champions League Series.

    University of Western Ontario – Martin Painter

    Martin Painter
    Courtesy of UWO Athletics

    Martin Painter is a great example of “been there, done that!”

    He has won every place he has ever been and understands how to build a competitive winning program. Painter has been the Head Coach for the Western Mustangs Women’s Soccer team since January of 2012. Since then, Painter has led the Mustangs to 8 consecutive playoff appearances, 6 OUA Final Four appearances, including OUA silver medals in 2013, 2014, 2017 and 2018 as well as a bronze in 2016. In that time, the Mustangs have made 4 appearances at USPORTS National Championships and have won the OUA West Division 4 times. Painter was named OUA West Coach of the Year in 2013 and 2017 and 2013 also saw Painter win the CIS (now U SPORTS) Coach of the Year. 

    Since 2018, Painter has also been the Head Coach of the Western Mustangs Men’s team, claiming an OUA Bronze Medal in 2018 in Western’s 1st appearance in the Final Four since 2010.  

    Prior to his time at Western, he spent 5 seasons as head coach of the Fanshawe College Women’s Soccer program from 2007-11. In 2009, Painter led Fanshawe to an Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) title and a runner-up finish at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Championship.  Painter’s success on the pitch carried over to his tenure at the helm of FC London, where he coached for seven seasons (2009-2015) in the Premier Development League (PDL), winning a North American championship in 2012. 

    Painter is also a scout for Toronto FC and the Technical Director of Alliance FC in London.

    Thought: If the Wanderers wanted someone who wins, can build a winning program and culture with his management of players at a high level, Painter would be a solid choice to build with.

    University of British Columbia – Mike Mosher

    Mike Mosher
    Courtesy of UBC Athletics

    Mike Mosher continues to build on his legacy of success as he is just finishing his 27th season as the head coach of the most decorated men’s soccer programs in the history of U SPORTS. He has guided the UBC Thunderbirds to four national titles (2005, 2007, 2012, and 2013) and owns an incredible 26-12 record in games played at the U SPORTS Men’s Soccer Championship tournament, including this year’s hear breaker in the 2022 USPORTS National Championship for another silver medal. He was the team’s assistant in 1994 but served as the head coach at that year’s nationals and led the T-Birds to the Canadian title.
    Mosher has won four straight Canada West championship titles, finishing the 2019-2020 season with a 10-2-3 regular season record after closing out 2018-2019 with a 13-1-2 record in conference play.
    In 2017, Mosher’s squad won the school’s 18th Canada West conference championship on home turf at Thunderbird Stadium. Down 2-0 in the final, UBC came all the way back to beat Trinity Western 3-2 in double overtime. That win clinched the team’s fifth appearance at the U SPORTS national tournament in six years. The T-Birds placed fourth with a young roster that didn’t feature any fifth-year seniors.
    In the summer of 2017, UBC embarked on a cross-Pacific trip to play in the World Elite University Football Tournament at Tsing’hua University in Beijing, China. The Thunderbirds were able to defeat the likes of Oxford and Peking before ultimately claiming the tournament’s silver medal. This past season Coach Mosher was named the head coach of the League 1 BC Varsity FC entry and took them to a 9-2-2 record to win the regular season.
    Mosher crossed the milestone of 200 regular season and playoff wins as UBC’s coach early in the 2016 season, which saw the Thunderbirds place second in the Canada West before placing fifth in the U SPORTS Men’s Soccer Championship.
    Mosher was the U SPORTS Coach of the Year in 2013 and the Canada West Coach of the Year on three different occasions (2009, ‘13 and ‘15).
    Mosher’s 2013 conference and national championship-winning squad won the school’s 13th U SPORTS title and was named Sport BC’s Team of the Year, while the 2012 team went undefeated in non-conference, Canada West and playoff action to become the best in the nation.
    In 2010, the T-Birds won their third Canada West championship under Mosher’s direction. The squad then went on to collect a silver medal at the U SPORTS Championship. For his efforts, Mosher was named the Adult Coach of the Year by BC Soccer.
    Internationally, Mosher served as Canada’s head coach at the 2009 Summer Universiade in Belgrade, Serbia, as well as an assistant with the 2007 squad that competed in Thailand.

    He’s already in the UBC Sports Hall of Fame as the 1989-91 teams were enshrined in 2013.

    Thought: Doubtful that he would leave after all that time at UBC as a player and coach, now running the new League 1 BC Varsity FC team and switching coasts. But if he is up for a new challenge, it’s a distinct possibility.

    So if everything holds true to what the HFX’s Sporting Director Matt Fegan has said, we should know who the new coach is by the end of the day tomorrow. Well it is the end of November, so let’s see what happens by tomorrow evening and if he is able to keep his word.


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