NCAA Division I Sports
NCAA Division I Sports
Bennett continues to focus on the improvement of the soccer program as whole. While wins are certainly a focus for Bennett and his staff, upgrading the facilities at Valley Fields, the home of Marquette soccer, remains on his aggressive agenda.
Upon his arrival at Marquette, Bennett spearheaded an initiative to build a practice facility at The Valley. In the end, an Astro Turf recreational sports field was transformed into a game-quality Field Turf pitch that the men's and women's soccer teams use for training. Previously teams had to go off campus, upwards of a 30-minute drive, to find practice fields.
The new practice pitch maximizes the time of the student-athlete and gives an added sense of a home field as the teams now practice in the same location that they play.
While freshening up the home of Marquette soccer, Bennett has also been focusing on changing the product on the field. In his first season at Marquette, the new staff was focused on implementing a new system in a short time. After being hired in December of 2005, Bennett's first spring campaign quickly led to the fall with the returning players still adapting to the new system.
Success came early as Bennett won his first game at Marquette, defeating Loyola (Ill.) 2-1. However, it was a long year for the Golden Eagles on the scoreboard as the team finished 1-15-1. The team showed vast improvement, however, from its early-season growing pains to the end of the season, where hard-fought games with frustratingly-unlucky results characterized the contests down the stretch.
The same type of improvement occurred during the 2007 season. Complete with a deep freshman class targeted to his style, Bennett and his team added a victory to the 2006 campaign, finishing the year with a 2-12-4 record in the ever-competitive BIG EAST Conference. The BIG EAST landed seven teams in the 2007 NCAA Tournament for the third straight year, including three teams the Golden Eagles played to within one goal. Bennett's squad finished the year with four consecutive overtime matches, with the team's seven overtime appearances tying a school record previously set in 1993. Despite a youthful team, in extra time, Bennett was 1-2-4, including a 2-1 loss in overtime at Connecticut to the eventual BIG EAST Tournament Champions. The Golden Eagles also came within one goal of Blue Division champion, Notre Dame early in the season.
At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Bennett led the Panthers to five straight NCAA Tournament berths, including four consecutive appearances in the second round of the tournament and 136 victories over the last five seasons. The most successful coach in the history of UWM men's soccer, Bennett compiled a 136-63-17 record in 10 seasons.
Since 2001, the Panthers have dominated the Horizon League posting a 41-4-2 record in conference play and earning five league titles. Over the same time, UWM was 14-1 in the conference tournament, reached five conference championship games, and won four tournament titles. Bennett also guided his squad to a 25-game league unbeaten streak (23-0-2) that stretched into the 2004 season.
In 2005, Bennett led UW-Milwaukee to its fifth straight NCAA Tournament appearance, winning the regular season crown for the fifth consecutive year and the conference tournament for fourth straight time. Bennett had UWM poised to upset top-seeded New Mexico in the second round of this year's national tournament before falling in penalty kicks.
The 2004 campaign included a fourth-straight trip to the NCAA Tournament, winning the regular season crown for the fourth-straight season and the league tournament for the third consecutive year. That same year, Bennett surpassed Dan Harris in the UWM coaching ranks, becoming the school's all-time winningest coach in a Sept. 25 victory over Detroit. The Panthers' run in the NCAA Tournament included a 3-2 win at No. 16 San Francisco in the first round and an overtime loss at UC-Santa Barbara in the second round. UCSB made it the NCAA Championship game.
In 2003, Bennett earned a third consecutive Horizon League Coach of the Year award while leading UWM to its fifth-straight winning season. Milwaukee defeated Western Michigan, 4-1, to advance to the second round of the tourney for the second-straight year.
All of this came on the heels of a record-breaking season in 2002 which included a school-record 19-2-1 record, a No. 8 national ranking–the highest in school history, an NCAA-best 19 consecutive wins and the program's first-ever NCAA Tournament win. Bennett also earned NSCAA Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year honors as well as League Coach of the Year accolades.
In the 2001 season, UWM posted an 18-5 overall record, including a perfect 7-0 mark in Horizon League play. Under Bennett's direction, the Panthers advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1990 and for the fourth time in school history.
Widely regarded as one of the top head coaches in college soccer, Bennett was a 5-time winner of the Horizon League's Coach of the Year Award and twice was named Great Lakes Coach of the Year.
Prior to taking over the head coaching position in 1996, Bennett served as an assistant coach at UW-Milwaukee from 1993 to 1995.
A tireless worker off the field, Bennett helped transform the UWM program by helping upgrade facilities and equipment. He oversaw the renovation of the playing surface at Engelmann Field and the locker room to reflect a more inspiring pre-game atmosphere. Bennett acquired and furnished the Panther Room to hold meetings, “chalk talks” and watch video on the 60-inch TV screen.
Bennett played collegiate soccer at Crewe & Alsager College in England, helping win the British Colleges National Championship in 1982. He was also honored as a Great Britain Colleges International Player for three years. Bennett played professional soccer for seven years in the U.S., including three seasons with the Milwaukee Wave of the NPSL (1985-87).
A native of Great Britain, Bennett has made the Milwaukee area his home since 1985. Two years later, he started the British-American Soccer Program in Milwaukee. He is now the owner and director of the organization that operates as a camp and touring program for soccer players ages 6-18. Prior to his assistant position at UWM, Bennett coached the boys' and girls' varsity soccer teams at Nicolet High School for five years. He also has coaching experience at the adult club level in Wisconsin with F.C. Victoria, the Bavarian Soccer Club and the Olympic Development Program.
Bennett is married to the former Julie Harper of Yorkshire, England. The couple has three children - Eston (14), Yve (11) and Louis (10) - and resides in Shorewood.