UNCW Press Release
RICHMOND, Kentucky. - Eastern Kentucky University announced the hiring of UNCW Assistant Coach Melissa Barnes as its new women's soccer coach on Wednesday.
"I would like to thank President Doug Whitlock, Simon Gray, Mark Sandy and Lindsey McKaskle for the opportunity to lead the Eastern Kentucky University women's soccer program," Barnes said. "I'm very excited to join the Colonel family. I was impressed with the soccer facilities and the support for women's soccer at EKU. I look forward to the successes and the challenges that lie ahead for our program, and I can't wait to get started. I would also like to thank UNCW athletics, the UNCW women's soccer team and head coach Paul Cairney for preparing me for this opportunity. Paul has been and will continue to be a great mentor and friend."
A native of Prospect, Ky., Barnes takes over the Colonels program after five seasons at UNCW, where she helped mold the Seahawks into one of the top programs in the Colonial Athletic Association.
In 2009, UNCW went 13-8-1 and reached as high as No. 3 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Mid-Atlantic Region rankings before winning the CAA Tournament and earning the program's first-ever berth in the NCAA Tournament. In 2012, the Seahawks compiled a record of 12-7-3 and fell just short of a second NCAA appearance, losing to Hofstra, 2-1, in double overtime in the CAA title game.
Barnes was a part of 49 wins during her five years at UNCW, and she coached 28 All-CAA performers, eight CAA All-Tournament selections and one CAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player. Barnes also played a key role in the team's success in the classroom as well. The Seahawks won an NSCAA College Team Academic Award all five years of her tenure and posted a team GPA of 3.40 or higher from 2010-12.
"We have been very fortunate at UNCW with our three previous assistant coaches," said UNCW Head Coach Paul Cairney. "All three of them - Tammy DeCesare (Western Carolina/Coastal Carolina), Chris Neal (Elon) and now Melissa - have been named head coaches at Division I programs. Our assistant coach is able to take part in every aspect of our program, and this is a big part of why Melissa will succeed at EKU. She has shared in many of the responsibilities of being a Head Coach and I know she will put those skills to good use in her new role."
Before her stint at UNCW, Barnes was a key factor in continuing the winning tradition at her alma mater, Furman. As an assistant coach / goalkeepers coach at Furman from 2005-07, Barnes helped guide the Paladins to a 20-6-4 Southern Conference record and a spot in the 2007 NCAA Tournament. She also mentored 17 All-SoCon performers during that two-year period.
The South Dakota women's soccer team was also a beneficiary of Barnes' winning touch. Barnes was an assistant coach / goalkeepers coach at South Dakota in 2004 and, during that one season, the Coyotes posted a program-best record of 15-6 and made their first-ever appearances in the NCAA Division II Tournament.
Barnes was a proven winner before entering the coaching ranks, though. She was a four-year starter at goalkeeper for Furman from 1998-2001, earning All-SoCon honors three of those seasons and posting the 10th-best Goals Against Average (0.67) in the country as a sophomore in 1999. During her four years in the net at Furman, the Paladins compiled a record of 66-21-1, won three SoCon titles and made two NCAA Tournament appearances.
Barnes received a bachelor's degree from Furman in 2002 and earned a master's degree from East Carolina University in 2010.
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