Ashland University director of athletics Al King announced on Friday (July 20) afternoon that women's soccer head coach Danny Krispinsky has stepped aside from the position due to health reasons. Former women's soccer graduate assistant coach Taylor Clarke has been selected to lead the program as the interim head coach.
Krispinsky compiled a 58-25-9 overall record in five seasons leading the Eagles, winning at least 10 games each season, as he built a strong foundation of success on which to build. In 2017, Ashland was 12-5-2 and advanced to the GLIAC Tournament semifinal for the fourth time in his five years.
"When he took over Danny was handed a program that needed repair in several areas - recruiting, preparation, exposure and on-field coaching," King said. "He didn't back away from any of those challenges and methodically went about the process of changing the entire environment. It takes vision, patience and determination to stay the course and go about that the right way. Danny has all those traits and he never wavered from his convictions. The result is we have a women's soccer program that's in excellent condition."
Krispinsky won 14 games with the 2015 team that advanced to the GLIAC Tournament title game and was just shy of an NCAA Tournament berth. It was the most wins for Ashland since 2004. The Eagles received 15 All-GLIAC first or second team citations under his tutelage, including three-time All-GLIAC standout Morgan Bittengle, who ranks third on Ashland's all-time list in goals (51) and points (116).
Clarke returns to Ashland after serving as the assistant men's soccer coach at Calvin (Mich.) College last season. He helped the Knights to a 21-1-1 record and a berth in the NCAA Division III Sweet Sixteen. He coached three All-Americans, five all-region and 10 all-conference players as Calvin won conference regular season and tournament championships. The Knights led the nation in scoring (85 goals) and shutouts (15).
"When I talked with Danny about candidates for the interim head coach position the first name that rolled off his tongue was Taylor Clarke," King said. "We're extremely fortunate he's coming. Taylor and Danny had an exceptional working relationship and that's going to be important during this time of transition. Danny will be able to advise Taylor in a number of areas. We're going to take advantage of as much of Danny's knowledge as we can."
Former Ashland women's soccer player Alyssa Gervelis will be the program's graduate assistant coach. She played for the Eagles from 2009-12 and earned her bachelor's degree in secondary education in 2013. Gervelis has most recently served as the head girls soccer coach at Bluffton (S.C.) High School and as a coach with Global Premier Soccer in Bluffton.
"Alyssa is familiar with our program and she's going to play a major role for us during this time," King said. "She's already immersed herself in preparation for the season and has been willing to anything we've asked."
Clarke was the assistant men's soccer coach at the University of North Carolina Wilmington in the 2016 season when the Seahawks garnered a top 20 NCAA Division I national ranking. At UNCW, he managed recruiting and assisted in all aspects of the program, including individual and team training and analysis.
Clarke got his start in collegiate coaching under Krispinsky as the graduate assistant for women's soccer in the 2014 and 2015 seasons. He worked in all parts of the program, coordinating recruiting, creating a practice curriculum and creating scouting reports. He also organized team travel and monitored the academic progress of the program. The Eagles were 26-11-1 in Clarke's two seasons under Krispinsky with eight All-GLIAC selections.
"Taylor did an outstanding job working as a graduate assistant coach under Danny," King said. "When his stint was finished I told him I thought he had a bright future in coaching and he was someone who would be an excellent fit here.
"I'm extremely appreciative that he's agreed to come here and direct our program during this time," said King. "I know this, with Taylor here our team will be well prepared and well coached and we will be in a position to compete for GLIAC honors and hopefully, a run for the NCAA postseason."
Clarke played collegiate soccer at Saginaw Valley State University where he earned a bachelor's degree in educational history. He helped the Cardinals to two GLIAC championships and a Midwest Regional championship, captaining the 2012 squad to the NCAA Division II national championship game. He was a three-year captain and four-year member of the GLIAC All-Academic team.
A native of Cary, Ill., Clarke earned his Master of Education degree from Ashland in 2016.
The Eagles open the season Aug. 30 at Lewis before playing seven home games in September, beginning Sept. 1 against Tiffin.