By Ethan Woy
Moon Township, Pa. – John Kowalski, head coach of the Robert Morris University women’s soccer team, enters the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC Hall of Fame Friday, July 12. The Riverhounds will recognize their inaugural Hall of Fame class on Saturday, July 13 during the team’s United Soccer League contest against the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Highmark Stadium.
Kowalski is part of a five-person class that includes Justin Evans (player/coach), David Flavius (player), Paul Heasley (owner), and Dave Kasper (general manager).
The organization’s first head coach, Kowalski led the Riverhounds to a playoff victory and Organization of the Year accolade in their debut season in 1999. He is one of three coaches in franchise history to have guided the club for at least 60 games, with his high-scoring offensive attack being a staple of his tenure. Kowalski’s teams averaged 1.84 goals per game, which is the second most of any coach in club history.
The Hall of Fame nod is just another addition to Kowalski’s impressive resume. One of the most accomplished coaches in United States Soccer history, he was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Walt Chyzowych Memorial Fund in January of 2018. Kowalski led the 1989 and 1992 U.S. National Five-a-Side (futsal) Teams to respective third and second-place finishes at the FIFA Futsal World Championship and owns a 2-0-1 record as an interim coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team. He is the only U.S. coach to help guide the National Team to CONCACAF championships in both indoor and outdoor soccer, claiming gold both at the 1996 Futsal Championship and as an assistant on the 1991 Gold Cup-winning staff.
A 2000 inductee into the RMU Athletic Hall of Fame, Kowalski led the men’s soccer team to four Northeast Conference regular-season championships (1992, 1994, 1995, 1996) and two NEC Tournament titles (1993, 1994). The Colonials played in the 1993 and 1994 NCAA Tournaments – becoming the first RMU program other than men’s basketball to qualify for the NCAA Tournament – and ranked as high as No. 16 nationally in 1995. Kowalski was named NEC Coach of the Year on the men’s side in 1992 and 1995, and on the women’s side in 2015 after leading the program to its first NEC Championship Game.
Between his first stint at Robert Morris and his two seasons with the Riverhounds, Kowalski coached the Tampa Bay Mutiny of Major League Soccer from 1997-98. He led the Mutiny to the league’s third-highest point total and a playoff berth in 1997.
Kowalski’s current squad begins its 2019 campaign with a preseason contest on Friday, August 9 against Detroit Mercy. The Colonials’ first regular-season fixture is a road game against Bucknell on Thursday, August 22, followed by the home opener against Purdue Fort Wayne on Sunday, August 25.
Looking Back On YouTube.com – RMU Athletics – (Oct. 13, 2018) RMU Vs. SFU – Women’s Soccer Highlights…
Ethan Woy is the Assistant Media Relations Director for the Robert Morris University Athletic Department. He oversees Men’s and Women’s Soccer, Women’s Basketball, and Golf.