Eric Wagner took over the Garnet soccer program in 2002 and transformed the team in short order. In 15 seasons, Wagner’s teams have a posted a 173-92-36 record, and have had 18 postseason tournament appearances.
Under Wagner, the Garnet have had 49 All-Centennial Conference players, 15 Regional All-Americans, five All-American selections and two players sign professional soccer contracts.
Why did you decide to become a college soccer coach?
EW: I knew I wanted to teach, but I need to be outdoors and active.
Who has been the biggest influence on your coaching career? What did you learn from them?
EW: First, Ken Kline, my college soccer coach, from whom I learned to think of the game as a challenge for the mind as much as the body. Always thinking outside the box, coming at problems or issues with unique solutions.
Secondly, Mike McGraw, my high school coach, from whom I learned to respect everyone I come in contact with; opponents, officials, coaches, parents, everyone.
And last, Jack Edwards, former coach and scout for Manchester City, Oldham, and Rochdale in England. He taught me to keep a keen awareness of everything that goes on around me. I've also learned more about tactics and the history of the game from him than anyone else.
What are the three most important skills you try to instill in your players?
Mental resilience/toughness, work ethic, and respect for others.
Who is the best player you’ve ever coached? What made him special?
There are several. Some include two-time All-American Micah Rose, 1st team All-American Jeff Kushner, Ryan Olsen, who scored 32 goals his senior year and shattered the all-time scoring record at St. Mary's College, David D'Annunzio, an Academic All-American goalkeeper who broke most records at Swarthmore, and Alun Oliver, a Welsh midfielder whose work rate, vision, clean skill and competitiveness made him a Hall-of Famer at St. Mary's.
But the most successful player overall so far has been Morgan Langley, an All-American striker who broke the scoring record at Swarthmore and went on to a five-year professional career, including playing in the MLS for the Philadelphia Union. Morgan’s pure speed, competitiveness, desire to win, and knack for finding the right places to be to create goal-scoring chances was outstanding. It took Morgan a couple of years to figure it out, but when he committed himself to the fitness and physical demands of college soccer, he became unstoppable.
Describe yourself as a coach in three words:
Passionate, hard-working, competitive.
What is your ideal system of play? Why?
My ideal system of play is always going to be one that includes rock-solid defense and has attacking options throughout the team. We want to include overlapping wingers, combination opportunities up the middle and dangerous runs in the box. Whatever system allows for those scenarios, given the personnel that we have, is the ideal system for me.