Ryan Bennison begins his ninth season as head coach of the Bridgewater College men's soccer program.
2018 was a record year for the program as Bridgewater reached its first ODAC championship game. The Eagles earned the third seed with a 6-3-1 conference record that included a 2-0 win at #5 Lynchburg. They defeated Ferrum at home and then beat #10 Lynchburg in the semifinals. The team earned a new high of five All-ODAC selections while Thomas White earned All-Region honors and both Quentin Boric and Matthew Pagano made the Scholar All-Region list.
Bridgewater defeated the nation's fifth-ranked team in 2017, with a 2-1 road win at Washington & Lee.
2016 saw a 9-8-2 season which saw another appearance in the ODAC tournament where the team fell short in the quarterfinals to a W&L squad that made the second round of the NCAA tournament. The 2016 team set the school record for shutouts in a season, defended the home field well at 6-2-1, and beat crosstown rival Eastern Mennonite for the fourth time in five years.
Bennison is currently the all-time wins leader for the men's soccer program. After taking over a program that had won two games in the year prior, and averaged 4 wins a year since its inception in 1990, Bennison has averaged eight wins a year and led the team into the conference tournament each season. The Eagles have made great strides in the last several years as they have climbed up the standings and accomplished many goals. Under Bennison's leadership, the program has earned their first NSCAA National Team Academic Award and their first NSCAA Ethics/Sportsmanship Award. They have set several school records, among them being fewest Goal Allowed, Goals Allowed Average, and Shutouts in a season. The team always likes to play a challenging schedule and have enjoyed several wins against nationally and regionally ranked opponents. For their efforts, the Eagles have been ranked in the region several times and even received a vote for the national poll.
Bennison took over the Eagles program after serving three years as the top assistant coach at Anderson University, a member of the Division III Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference. In his first year at Anderson, the team doubled its win total from the year before. In the second year, Anderson was back in the conference tournament. In his third year, the team made it to the conference championship, but fell short in the final. Bennison is a strong, proven recruiter as he recruited the 2009 and 2010 HCAC Freshman of the Year.
He also adds coaching experience from the club and high school levels. Bennison coached three years at Ruston High School in Louisiana. He finished with a record of 30-9-2, winning a district title in 2008 and named the District 2-5A Louisiana Coach of the Year. He also served as head coach of the Hoosier FC U-16 Boys Premier Team for two seasons, which saw tremendous improvement. He is a member of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and has earned the National Diploma, Goalkeeping certificate, and Professional Development certificate.
Prior to his full time coaching days, Bennison served three years as the Director of Student Ministries at Crossroads Church in Ruston, Louisiana. While there, he developed a youth program and started an inner city outreach program called CrossOver.
As a player, Bennison was a four-year starter at Anderson University. He was named the Heartland Conference Player of the Year in 2000 and was a two-time, all-conference, first team selection. He was two-year captain, leading the program to the two best seasons in school history, and capped off his career with a conference championship. Bennison is also a member of the All-Decade team for Anderson University.
Bennison graduated from Anderson University with a Bachelor of Arts in Family Science. He later graduated Summa Cum Laude from John Brown University with a Master's Degree in Ministry, and an Emphasis in Leadership and Higher Education.
Coach Bennison resides in Bridgewater with his wife Rachel and their three sons Andrew, Alex, and Austin.