Darren Ambrose enters his fifth season at the helm at Vanderbilt in 2019.
Last season, the Commodores went 16-4-1 with an 8-1-1 record in conference play. The Dores took home their third SEC regular season championship after defeating Kentucky, 4-1, at home. It was the program’s first SEC Championship since 1994. Ambrose received SEC Coach of the Year honors. Vanderbilt earned its fourth-straight SEC Tournament appearance, receiving a bye as a number one overall seed.
They hosted the first round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005. The Dores hosted and defeated Murray State, 4-0, to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Haley Hopkins led the Commodores with 14 goals and seven assists, tallying 35 points on the season. She was an All-American and also was the SEC Freshman of the Year.
Vanderbilt had five players named to All-SEC teams this past season with Hopkins and Grace Jackson on the First Team. Nia Dorsey made it on the SEC Second Team while Hopkins and Shamburger were on the All-Freshmen Team.
In 2017, the Commodores went 13-7-2, with their 13 victories being their best since the 2005 season. With a 6-3-1 SEC record, Vanderbilt earned its third-straight Southeastern Conference Tournament appearance, receiving a bye as the sixth-overall seed, and faced Tennessee in quarterfinal play. After defeating Tennessee in overtime, Vanderbilt lost to Arkansas via PK’s. The Dores advanced to the NCAA Tournament and upset Ohio State for the team’s first tournament win since 1998.
Stephanie Amack led the Dores in goals with five, while Kaitlyn Fahrner played 16 games in the cage for the black and gold. Fahrner allowed 15 goals with 74 saves to her name.
In his first season with the Vanderbilt women’s soccer team, head coach Darren Ambrose led the Commodores to one of their most successful seasons in recent memory, achieving a team goal of an SEC Tournament appearance and notching their first winning season since 2009.
The team’s nine wins were also the most in six years. Defense set the tone in 2015, as Vanderbilt posted six shutouts for the second straight year and allowed just 23 goals – their fewest since 2006. Ambrose has also kick started a peer-mentoring program with the Dores, connecting alumna with current student-athletes who share similar career goals.
Before reinvigorating the Vanderbilt soccer program, Ambrose spent 15 years at the University of Pennsylvania and departed as the Quaker’s all-time winningest coach.
In 15 years at Penn, Ambrose compiled an impressive record of 148-71-35, including a 54-34-17 mark in the Ivy League. His teams reached the NCAA Tournament three times and won three Ivy League championships. His teams finished in the top three of the Ivy League in 10 of his 15 seasons, including seven of the past eight years.
“We conducted an intensive national search and we are convinced that we have hired one of the best soccer coaches in the NCAA,” Williams said. “Darren Ambrose has run a first-class program at Penn for many years. His familiarity with an academic institution, his ability to relate to his student-athletes, his proven record in recruiting and coaching and his character make him an extremely good fit for Vanderbilt. We look forward to working with him as he takes our soccer program to new heights.”
Ambrose never had a losing season in his 15 years overseeing the program, as the Quakers averaged nearly 10 wins a year under his watch. He coached the team’s first two All-Americans as well as its first NSCAA Scholar All-America, CoSIDA Academic All-America of the Year, Ivy League Player of the Year, Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year and Ivy League Rookies of the Year. In addition, Ambrose was at the helm for all of Penn’s Ivy League championships (2001, 2007, 2010), three of its four NCAA Championship berths (2001, 2007, 2010), and an ECAC title in 2000.
In 2010, Ambrose led Penn to its second outright Ivy League championship and third overall as the Quakers went to the NCAA Championship for the fourth time in program history, falling to Big Ten champion Penn State. The next year, the Quakers enjoyed a record-setting campaign, going 14-2-1 in 2011 to tie the program record for overall wins and break the mark for winning percentage. In addition, Penn allowed a school-record seven goals and led the nation in shutout percentage.
Prior to his stint at FSU, Ambrose spent three years as the women’s and men’s assistant coach at Rhodes College in Memphis. He was an integral part of the success of programs that had a combined record of 77-33-3, a Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) championship and three other second-place finishes, as well as three NCAA Tournament appearances.
Ambrose began his coaching career at Rhodes as a graduate assistant for both programs from 1993-95. He then went to the University of Connecticut to be the men’s assistant coach under legendary head coach Joe Morrone, before returning to Rhodes in the fall of 1996.
Ambrose, who holds a United States Soccer Federation (USSF) “A” License and a National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Advanced National Diploma, has also taken an active role in soccer education programs. He served as an instructor for the Tennessee State Soccer Association, and at Rhodes he taught USSF “E” and “D” license courses to Rhodes players who were beginning their coaching careers in the local community. He also had work published in the Tennessee State Soccer Journal and in the English publication “Entering the Field,” a sociological look at the growth of soccer in the U.S. (1998). Ambrose is also an instructor for NSCAA goalkeeping courses.
Born near Sheffield, England, Ambrose played soccer with the youth programs of Sheffield United of the English League Championship and Doncaster Rovers of the English League first division. He also represented the English Schools Regional Team before coming to the U.S. for his college career at Division II national power USC-Spartanburg (S.C.).
While in goal for the Rifles, Ambrose garnered some impressive honors, including Adidas National Player of the Year in 1992-93. He was also the first USC-Spartanburg player to be named a GTE Academic All-America, in 1992-93. In 2002, Ambrose was inducted into Spartanburg’s Hall of Fame. This balance of academic and athletic achievement is something Ambrose brings to the Penn program on a yearly basis.
Ambrose earned a B.S. in management accounting at USC-Spartanburg and in 1995 completed an M.Ed. in sports administration at the University of Memphis. Ambrose and his wife, Sherry, have two daughters: Madison and Ainsley.
Darren Ambrose Head Coaching Record
Career Record: 195-99-41
University of Pennsylvania (15 years)
Record: 148-71-35 (54-34-17, Ivy League)
2000: 10-8-1, 2-5-0 6th
2001: 13-2-3, 5-1-1 t-1st
2002: 8-6-3, 3-1-3 3rd
2003: 9-5-3, 3-3-1 4th
2004: 9-6-2, 4-2-1 3rd
2005: 8-6-3, 2-3-2 t-5th
2006: 8-5-3, 1-4-2 7th
2007: 13-4-1, 6-1-0 1st
2008: 8-6-3, 2-3-2 5th
2009: 10-4-2, 4-3-0 3rd
2010: 9-7-2, 4-1-2 1st
2011: 14-2-1, 5-1-1 2nd
2012: 9-6-1, 5-2-0 3rd
2013: 12-1-4, 5-1-1 2nd
2014: 8-5-3, 3-3-1 t-3rd
Vanderbilt University (Four years)
Record: 47-28-6 (23-13-6, SEC)
2015: 9-8-4, 4-4-3 7th
2016: 9-9-1, 5-5-1 t-6th
2017: 13-7-1, 6-3-1 t-4th
2018: 16-4-1, 8-1-1 1st