The only women’s soccer head coach Presbyterian College has ever had announced his retirement Thursday afternoon through the school.
Brian Purcell, a PC alumnus who began his career as the Blue Hose head coach soon after his 1987 graduation, completed his final season on Oct. 25 with a 1-1 tie at Martin Stadium against Big South Conference opponent Longwood. PC finished the season 3-10-3.
“To have been able to spend my entire coaching career at my alma mater is more than I could have ever asked for or imagined”, said Purcell. “I will forever be grateful to the late Coach Cally Gault for hiring me and believing in me all those years ago. I’m also extremely grateful to my PC coach and mentor, Coach Ralph Polson, who played an integral role in starting the women’s soccer program in ’89 and in my hiring. I also want to thank my wife, Kim, for being so supportive and patient. The life of a coach’s spouse can be challenging to say the least. Her partnership in this journey has allowed it to be as enduring as it has.”
“I’ve also been fortunate to have many great assistant coaches over the years. Each of them has left an indelible mark on me and the program. “Finally and most importantly, I want to thank the players. Coaching all of you has been one of the greatest blessings of my life. You were all amazing to coach but I am even prouder of the women you have become.”
As the program’s director since the beginning and later overseeing PC’s transition to the Division I ranks in 2007, Purcell finishes his coaching career with 284 total victories, six regular season conference championships, and two tournament titles. The bulk of those victories – 207 – came at the Division II record.
“The impact that Coach Purcell will leave on Presbyterian College is immeasurable and invaluable”, commented PC Director of Athletics Dee Nichols. “He is leaving a great legacy to a program that he nurtured for 35 years, while serving as a role model to many student-athletes and coaches in our department.
“Even though he is moving on from Presbyterian, his influence here will continue for years to come. I’d personally like to thank Brian for being a wonderful colleague and friend. PC Athletics wishes him well in his next adventure.”
In the wake of Purcell’s retirement, former associate head coach Tanner Osborne, who has been on staff at PC for eight years, has been named the interim head coach of Blue Hose women’s soccer.
Here are highlights from Purcell’s 35-year career at PC:
South Atlantic Conference (1989-06)
While the Blue Hose were a member of the South Atlantic Conference (SAC), Purcell’s squads advanced to the NCAA Division II tournament on five separate occasions – 1994, ’95, ’97, ’99, and ’03.
When PC jumped ship to the Big South and NCAA Division I, Purcell was the SAC’s all-time leader in total conference wins (81) and a seven-time league Coach of the Year recipient. His 207 victories at the D-II level were the sixth-most in history, going on to win 77 more over the past 17 seasons.
Purcell was selected as the National NSCAA Coach of the Year in 1994 after leading PC to a 15-3 mark, later matching that win count in 1999 (15-2-1) and spending a week at number one on the NSCAA poll.
Big South Conference (2007-Present)
As a member of the Big South, PC notched 77 wins, including 49 victories at Martin Stadium.
PC achieved its highest D-I win count during the 2013 semester by going 9-9 with six conference triumphs. Five years later in 2018, the Blue Hose nearly equaled that number by posting eight overall wins. Over the past five campaigns, PC has earned 11 wins when competing on their home base.
During his decade-and-a-half at the Division I stage, Purcell has directed 16 all-conference honorees (four of which landed on the all-Big South first team roster). On 14 different dates since joining the division, a Blue Hose player has been chosen by the league for a weekly award.
His final victory as PC’s head coach came on Oct. 9, a 1-0 decision against Winthrop in Clinton. Sixteen years ago, Purcell got his first D-I victory over The Citadel by a 5-0 score.