Feb. 5, 2010
Louisville, Ky. -
Louisville head coach Ken Lolla has announced the addition of Mario Sanchez to his coaching staff, replacing Brian Maisonneuve who took a similar position at his alma mater. Sanchez rejoins Lolla's coaching staff after spending the last four seasons as the head coach at UNLV. Sanchez was on Lolla's Akron staff from 2003-05.
"We are so excited to reunite with Mario," said Lolla. "He is an outstanding person as well as a great coach. He has done a tremendous job at rebuilding UNLV and he will be a wonderful addition to our program."
In his four years with the Rebels, Sanchez turned the UNLV men's soccer program into one of the top programs in the West. After struggling his first season with the Rebels, Sanchez brought in a very talented recruiting class, that included one of the nation's top recruits, Daniel Cruz. His recruiting efforts paid off guiding the squad to a 7-10-3 season his second year, earning six more wins since the previous season. Cruz was named the MPSF Newcomer of the Year and was a third team freshman All-American. While newcomer Andrew Friel also earned All-MPSF honors.
UNLV also claimed an upset victory over 21st-ranked New Mexico in a 2-1 overtime victory, the program's second win over a ranked team in Sanchez's two seasons, and finished in a tie for fifth in the MPSF with a 3-7 league mark. Two Rebels (Cruz and Neagle) earned first team All-MPSF honors, and Sanchez was named Co-MPSF Coach of the Year for 2007.
In his third season at UNLV, the Rebels got off to a 3-0 start for just the third time in school history, and Sanchez had his team ranked regionally while also receiving votes in the national top-25 polls. Though the Rebels had a few struggles starting with the middle of conference play, UNLV still finished at 8-9-1, the most wins since the 2002 season. Senior forward Lamar Neagle earned all-region honors, while both he and Daniel Cruz were first team All-MPSF selections. Sanchez also saw the duo both earn spots on MLS teams this summer, with Cruz drafted by Houston and Neagle signed by Seattle.
Last season Sanchez guided the Rebels to their first winning season since 2002 with an overall record of 8-7-4. His 2009 squad was the youngest team in the nations with 12 freshmen and 14 newcomers to the squad. His team upset the third seed in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament and then fell in the semifinals to top seeded Sacramento State in double overtime. Freshman forward Nick Marshall was named to the NSCAA third team All-Far West Region. Marshall was the first-ever freshman at UNLV to earn all-region honors, and the third Rebel in the past five years to earn the honor.
Sanchez came to Las Vegas from Akron, where he was an assistant coach for the men's soccer program from 2003-2005. During his time on Lolla's staff the Zips earned three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, including an appearance in the Elite Eight in the 2005 NCAA Tournament, where they tied eventual national champion Maryland, which advanced in a penalty kick shootout. The Zips finished the 2005 season with an 18-1-4 record and were ranked No. 1 in the nation for four straight weeks.
Sanchez was an assistant coach at Fresno State from 1999-2003 until the school dropped its men's soccer program. While in Fresno, he was also a staff coach for the Olympic Development Program Region IV from 2000-2003, and was an ODP coach for the Ohio North ODP program from November of 2003 until leaving for Las Vegas.
In the summer of 2006, Sanchez was named head coach for the West Region 90s Boys Age Group team. He coached in an international tournament in Italy in April of 2007, and with a team that included Cruz, guided them to the semifinals of the 16-team tournament.
A 1999 graduate of Fresno State with a bachelor's of science degree in business administration, Sanchez was a four-year starter and two-time captain for the Bulldogs. Playing from 1993-97, Sanchez earned All-Far West Region honors in 1995 and 1997. He played for the national champion Central Coast Roadrunners in the United Soccer League from 1996-97, and was a third round draft choice in the MLS by the Kansas City Wizards in 1998. Sanchez also played for Orange County Zodiac (1999) and Stanislaus Cruisers (2001) in the USL Professional Division.