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Jason O’Keefe resigns as Robert Morris’ men’s head soccer coach

From Robert Morris University Athletic Department report

Jason O’Keefe announced Thursday that he has resigned as head coach of the RMU men’s soccer program.

“This has been a very difficult decision for me as I love college soccer,” O’Keefe said. “I have loved coaching student-athletes that have been successful both on and off the field for 22 years. In the end, I have been away from my son, Jonah, who lives in North Carolina, for too long. My love for him can’t be matched, even by college soccer.”

O’Keefe was named RMU head coach Nov. 23, 2020, and oversaw the program’s transition to the Horizon League in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. He helped guide the Colonials to berths in the Horizon League Tournament in each of the last two seasons. In the first round of the 2022 #HLMSOC Championships (11/6/22) last weekend in Rochester, Mich., the Colonials tied No. 4 seed Oakland, 2-2, with the Golden Grizzlies advancing thanks to a 6-5 edge in penalty kicks.

“We want to thank Coach O’Keefe for his dedication and service to RMU,” RMU Vice President and Director of Athletics Chris King ’94 said. “With the hire of Jason as the leader of the men’s soccer program two years ago, he made an immediate impact in all phases, including leading the team to the Horizon League Tournament the past two years. It has been a privilege to watch how he has been committed to the development of the student-athlete, not just on the field, but more importantly, in the classroom and in preparing our young men for excellence in life. I’ve watched Jason every day with admiration in building the men’s soccer program, and I witnessed first-hand the efforts, dedication, commitment and competitiveness of the program. We can’t thank him enough for his service and leadership. We understand and respect his decision to spend time with Jonah and want to make clear that Jason will always be welcome and have a home at RMU and within the Moon Township community.”

A trio of Colonials earned All-Horizon League honors in 2022 under O’Keefe’s watchful eye, including junior Kelvin Ramirez and sophomore Bryan Akongo, who each were named to the 2022 All-Horizon League Second Team. Rookie Victor Koah, meanwhile, earned a spot on the 2022 All-Horizon League Freshman Team.

“I would like to thank Vice President and Director of Athletics Chris King for the tremendous opportunity to lead the RMU men’s soccer program,” O’Keefe said. “It has been an honor to work with him and my staff to elevate this historical program in its transition to the Horizon League. I will be forever grateful to Chris, as he provided me an opportunity of a lifetime to continue my head coaching career.”

In his two full seasons leading the Colonials, O’Keefe had four student-athletes earn postseason accolades from the Horizon League., as defender Noé Bijou was named to the 2021 All-Horizon League Freshman Team. In addition, Ramirez is a two-time member of the Horizon League All-Academic Team (2021, 2022), as he is one of three Colonials to be honored over the last two years. A psychology major, Ramirez has maintained a perfect 4.00 cumulative grade point average (GPA).

“We’ve been blessed to have Jason coaching our soccer program and being a strong ambassador for RMU Athletics,” King said. “I truly respect his decision to move onto the next phase of his life and understand his decision to place his family as a priority. We will miss him as our head soccer coach and I will personally miss the fact that I won’t get to work directly with him every day. Based on his leadership with the soccer program, moving forward, I am confident with our current group of student-athletes that RMU soccer will continue to elevate to the next level of competitive success and our overall goal of becoming Horizon League champions.”

The Colonials are set to return each of their top five scorers in 2023, including twins Chase Gilley and Logan Gilley, who combined for 20 points this season. Chase Gilley, a two-time Horizon League Offensive Player of the Week, paced RMU in scoring in 2022 with 16 points thanks to seven goals and a pair of assists. RMU will also be bolstered by the return of goalkeeper Friedrich Petrelli, a two-time Horizon League Defensive Player of the Week who is tied for the league lead in shutouts (5) while ranking second in goals against average (1.07).

“I also want to thank the wonderful support staff at RMU as well as all the fantastic alumni,” O’Keefe said. “They both welcomed me with open arms and made me part of the RMU family. They have been a pleasure to work with and get to know. Lastly, I would like to thank the players and coaching staff. As difficult as my time away from my son has been, they’ve been the support system that has allowed me to thoroughly enjoy our time together. I’m sad to leave before things get really fun, as both the student-athletes and coaching staff work as hard as any I have had the pleasure to be associated with. Big things are ahead for this program, and I will be back to witness its future success as a fan.”

RMU will begin a national search to identify its next head men’s soccer coach.

John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium with the narrative leading up to and centered around a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the US. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

PItt MF Michael Sullivan

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