Winningest Soccer Coach Retires at YC

The best college soccer coach in the nation has kicked his final point.

Michael Pantalione, who holds the record of most wins as a coach in collegiate men’s soccer in U.S. history, retired from his head coaching position at Yavapai College (YC), effective Jan. 15.

For 32 seasons starting in 1988, Pantalione led the YC Roughriders and became the only coach in the nation to achieve a lifetime coaching percentage of .900.  That’s averaging more than 20 wins a season. 

A Hall of Fame member, he coached the Roughriders to seven National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) championships.

The Roughriders won its first national championship in 1990, the second year after Pantalione founded the team. They won championships again in 1992, 1997, 2002, 2003, 2007 and 2009. They were national runners-up in 1991, 1994, 1996, 2001 and 2005. Beyond that, his teams had 19 national semi-final competitions, 43 combined NJCAA Region 1 and West District titles, and 28 Arizona Community College Athletic Conference (ACCAC) titles.

The Philadelphia native earned a degree at the University of Montana. He has coached soccer at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay; the University of Montana; Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio; Jesuit High School in Portland, Oregon; and Archbishop Wood High School in Philadelphia.

His individual honors include:

  • 1980 — Named National Coach of the Year by Special Olympics, Inc.
  • 1995 — National Coaches Association of Soccer of America Intercollegiate Soccer Officials National Merit Honor.
  • 2006 — First-ever active coach to be elected to the NJCAA Soccer Hall of Fame.
  • 2012 — The NJCAA National Service Award for those who have made significant contributions to junior college athletics.
  • 2016 — NSCAA Letter of Commendation for unusual achievements that exceeded performance requirements, expectations and contributions to NSCAA and to soccer in the United States. (The National Soccer Coaches Association of America now is known as United Soccer Coaches). 
  • 2016 — The NSCCA Bill Jeffrey Award, acknowledging his long-term contributions to collegiate soccer.
  • 2016 — The only active coach to be selected to the ACCAC Hall of Fame. He also is a member of the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame.

Pantalione Acknowledges Recognition

In a written statement issued by the college, Pantalione said he felt privileged to work with and for Yavapai College. He expressed appreciation to those who allowed him to guide and support all the student athletes, saying it was a privilege. 

Many of the Roughriders student-athletes coached by Pantalione went on to careers in semi- or professional soccer.

YC Athletic Director Brad Clifford said: “Mike is a Hall of Fame coach who is respected across the world for his soccer knowledge. Mike is a true professional in every sense of the world. I have been honored to work with him and consider him a true friend. Words cannot express what Mike has met to Roughrider athletics at Yavapai College.”