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The Antelope

The Antelope

UNK hires Neil Piper to lead women’s soccer program

GRANT TIGHE / ANTELOPE STAFF Marc Bauer introduces Piper as the UNK women’s soccer coach.

UNK announced the hiring of Neil Piper on Thursday as the new women’s soccer coach. Piper is one of the winningest coaches in Division II with a record of 271-154-40 throughout his storied career.

Piper left Texas A&M Commerce after the school’s recent decision to go up to Division I. 

“Things have changed the last couple of years and I thought it was just getting to the point, once they decided to go Division I, they just wanted to go in a different direction,” Piper said. “I understand why they did it and I’m looking forward to a new challenge. I just want to coach and I just want to win games.”

Piper led Commerce for 24 years dating back to the 1998 season. He won the Lone Star Conference Tournament four times in his 21 winning seasons at Commerce. After deciding he wanted to leave, UNK was one of the first destinations Piper considered.

UNK’s first-ever head coach, Mike Munch, was an assistant under Piper before he was hired by the Lopers in 2009. Munch and Piper have remained friends over the years. 

“I’ve always kept my eye on this place,” Piper said. “I wanted to see how this team was doing.”

Piper is looking to bring a new offensive-minded style of soccer to the program that has struggled to put the ball in the net in recent years. The Lopers did improve last year, scoring 14 goals after only posting five goals in 2019. Piper is going to introduce new ways to score for the team.

“I really cherish set pieces,” Piper said. “I think that’s where a lot of goals come from. We’re gonna make the game chaotic for our opponents. People don’t come to watch the game at the halfway line, they want to see action, they want to see balls in the box.”

Piper knows the Nebraska recruiting area fairly well and would often go as far as Kansas City when looking for players at Commerce.

“Luckily, these days a lot of recruiting is national, especially at the elite level,” Piper said. “It’s not like I go to Kansas City to watch the Kansas City kids. I’ll go to Phoenix to watch kids from Chicago. It’s not like it used to be where you have to know every small town. If a player is good they’ll be seen and they’re going to national tournaments.”

In the process of trying to find a head coach, UNK looked at 65 candidates and interviewed 10 finalists. They needed someone with strong character and integrity as well as a coach who could be a role model to the young student-athletes. 

“We allowed ourselves plenty of time to get this done right and I believe it was done as well as expected,” said athletic director Marc Bauer. “I’m very pleased about the results of our process.”

Piper was born in England and came to America in 1981 where he became a U.S. Citizen. His wife Anne was born in Omaha and they have two children. 

Piper officially takes up his duties as head coach on March 1. The team is going through winter conditioning right now with spring ball set to begin in late March.

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