Kat Mertz named new Oregon women’s soccer coach

Posted by Matt Walks and Aubrey Wieber on Friday, Dec. 21 at 3:39 pm.

Kat Mertz, women’s soccer head coach at Saint Louis University, has accepted the same position at the University of Oregon, according to both schools’ athletic departments.

Mertz, who led the Billikens to a 5-9-4 record last year in her only season in Saint Louis, previously coached UNLV for five seasons between 2005-09. Her 49-39-19 record with the Rebels included two NCAA Tournament berths and back-to-back Mountain West Conference titles.

She has also coached at the University of Texas at Austin, the U.S. Women’s Youth National Team and the Olympic Development Program.

Mertz will be replacing Tara Erickson, who served as head coach for eight seasons. While Erickson received praise during her tenure, including winning 2006 Pac-10 Coach of the Year, she failed to reach tournament play in each of her eight years.

In her final season, Erickson severally underperformed despite an excellent freshman class and finished 10th in the conference. Many critics, including her own players felt that her defensive minded mentality led her to neglect the team’s offensive production. The Ducks failed to score in eight of their games last season.

Mertz comes into Oregon highly touted, having made the NCAA tournament in nine of her 14 seasons as a NCAA head coach.

“Kat Mertz is an outstanding coach and we are excited that she will be leading Oregon Women’s Soccer,” U of O athletic director Rob Mullens said in a press release. “Her commitment to the total student-athlete experience and her demonstrated passion for women’s soccer propelled Kat to the top of our list. She has direct experience with the Pac-12 Conference and has earned the respect of her colleagues within the U. S. Women’s National Team and Olympic Development Program. We are confident that she is the right person to elevate Oregon Soccer to new heights.”

Mertz will have her hands full with the new job as Oregon has taken a stand against mediocrity in any of their athletic programs. As coach Erickson learned, the Pac-12 can be brutal, and the athletic department has no sympathy for failure.

Here’s some initial Twitter reaction.