East Hanover, N.J. (12/4/18) – Former head men's soccer coach Tony Ochrimenko was recently inducted into the New Jersey Soccer Association Hall of Fame.
Ochrimenko retired from Kean University in 2014 after a legendary career that spanned five decades and delivered the first NCAA Division III National Championship in Kean history. He ended his 38-year head coaching career with a 468-248-56 record and a winning percentage of .642.
Ochrimenko began his life at Kean as a student-athlete in 1973. He was a two-time all-conference sweeper for the men's soccer program and won the 1974 D'Angola Award as Kean's Outstanding Male Student-Athlete. After leading the Squires (as Kean's teams were then known) to their first-ever conference title as team captain, he transitioned to the sidelines for a one-year stint as an assistant before becoming Kean's eighth head coach in 15 years in 1976.
It did not take long for success to start under his tutelage. In 1978, the Cougars captured the first of eight NJAC titles they would eventually win under Ochrimenko with an 11-3-2 record, and the program began to build. In the next 25 years, Kean never had a losing season.
In 1984, Kean made an impression on the national scene with a trip to the NCAA Final Four, the beginning of a stretch that produced 10 NCAA Championship berths in 12 years. The '84 team had a record of 18-3-1 and won the second of three-straight NJAC titles.
Of course, the apex of that run was reached in 1992, when the Cougars won the NCAA Division III National Championship. Though the team actually missed out on the conference title that season, the Cougars ended the year on a 10-match winning streak, defeating Elizabethtown College in the regional final and Rochester Institute of Technology in the national semis. Kean hosted the National Championship Game against perennial power Ohio Wesleyan University on the East Campus, making the 3-1 crowning victory even sweeter in that it was shared in front of family and friends.
Kean rode the wave of success over the next decade, making a total of 20-straight postseason appearances while averaging over 15 victories a year. In total, the 468 matches Ochrimenko has won as the head coach of the Cougars are nearly six times as many as the seven previous Kean coaches combined.
The 1997 team was the first Kean squad to reach the 20-win plateau and still owns the record for victories in a season. The following year, the Cougars again went unbeaten and untied in the NJAC (9-0-0) and did not allow a single goal against any conference rival.
In 2010, Ochrimenko pulled off a final great coaching moment as he guided the sixth-seeded Cougars to upsets over the No. 1, 2 and 3 seeds in the NJAC Tournament. The program captured its first conference title in over a decade while becoming the first No. 6 seed to win an NJAC crown in any sport.
Upon his retirement, Ochrimenko was in the NCAA record books as the 14th-winningest coach (across all three divisions) in NCAA history. Among his peers in Division III, only six other coaches in history have had more wins than Tony O.
Ochrimenko was named the NJAC Coach of the Year seven times, the College Soccer Association of New Jersey Coach of the Year five times and the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Mid-Atlantic Coach of the Year twice. His teams have also captured a pair of Eastern College Athletic Conference titles in five appearances in that tournament.
He was honored by his alma mater as a member of the Benisch Hall of Fame Class of 1982 – just the second group of inductees ever chosen for the Hall. Only five years removed from playing at the time, his induction was based on his accomplishments as a player on the soccer pitch. But there is no debate that if it were possible to re-immortalize the same person as a coach and a student-athlete, Tony O would be the first Cougar candidate.
Ochrimenko earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in recreation administration from Kean in 1975.