University of Evansville Director of Athletics Mark Spencer has announced the signing of head men’s soccer coach Marshall Ray to a contract extension with the Purple Aces program. The extension is official immediately
“Coach Ray has brought in student-athletes who have performed well on the field and in the classroom and is moving the program in the right direction,” Spencer said. “We are excited for the future of the program under his direction.”
The 2017 campaign was another positive step forward for the Purple Aces as Ray led his squad to its second-straight double-digit win season and the 29th winning season in program history. The back-to-back double-digit win seasons were the first since the 1995 and 1996 seasons.
Under Ray and his coaching staff, the Aces have become accustomed to competing in tight matches and have posted an undefeated record in overtime matches going 5-0-6 combined during the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
In just his third year at the helm, Ray took the Aces to the semifinals of the MVC Tournament before falling in penalty kicks. Much like the back-to-back double-digit win campaigns, the Purple Aces’ two-straight MVC Tournament semifinals appearances are the first since the 1995-96 seasons. At the conclusion of 2017 campaign, Evansville ended the season as the highest rated MVC program in the RPI.
In three season as head coach of the Purple Aces, Ray has had 15 student-athletes earn all-MVC honors. In 2017, Ray helped a pair of seniors in Ian McGrath and Chris Shuck capture all-MVC recognition with McGrath named first-team all-MVC and Shuck receiving honorable mention honors. The Aces have plenty of talent and experience to lean on in the coming years as sophomore Simon Waever joined McGrath on the all-MVC first-team and junior Zac Blaydes and sophomore Jesse Stafford Lacey earned honorable mention all-MVC recognition.
“I am a product of this campus and I take great pride in representing our University and the city of Evansville,” said Ray. “I was given a tremendous opportunity three years ago and with the help of our staff, players, supporters, and this community we have moved our program in a positive direction. We all have established a culture and environment that enables our student-athletes to compete on the field and in the classroom. I want to thank Mark Spencer for allowing me to continue to lead this program for years to come. We have more work to do to achieve our ultimate goal and replicate the success of our past teams. Our coaches and players look forward to getting back to work this spring.”
Ray’s student-athletes have also gotten the job done in the classroom as four Aces were named to the Missouri Valley Conference’s Men’s Soccer Scholar-Athlete team in 2017, bringing Ray’s total to seven. As a team, the Aces recorded a 3.486 GPA during the fall semester and received the United Soccer Coaches Team Academic award for the fifth-straight season.