NIU hires Michael O’Neill as women’s soccer head coach

O’Neill leaves Saginaw Valley State to become NIU’s sixth head coach in program history

By Skyler Kisellus, Sports Editor

Editor’s Note: This story has been modified to reflect the official contract details for Michael O’Neill’s employment at NIU.

DeKALB Nearly four months to the date, NIU athletics has filled the women’s soccer coach vacancy left by the dismissal of Julie Colhoff. NIU Athletics Director Sean Frazier announced Monday a four-year $80,000 contract for Michael O’Neill as the next head coach.

O’Neill replaces former head coach Julie Colhoff, who was relieved of her duties Nov. 23 last year after going 10-52-4 in four years leading the Huskies.

O’Neill, a native of Luton, England, comes to DeKalb after eight years of leading the women’s soccer program at Saginaw Valley State University in University Center, Michigan. He led the Cardinals to three appearances in the NCAA Tournament during his tenure and finished his time at Saginaw Valley State with a total record of 77-52-13.

“I am very excited to have Michael O’Neill joining the Huskie family as our next women’s soccer head coach,” Frazier said in an NIU Athletics news release. “Hiring an experienced head coach with a history of championship success was important to us in this process. Michael has proven his ability to build a program that has achieved at a high-level, both athletically and academically, and he is the right fit for NIU.”

In his final season at Saginaw Valley State, O’Neill and the Cardinals posted a 14-6-3 overall record, the most wins in school history, as they advanced into the NCAA Division II Tournament. The Cardinals made their furthest advance in the tournament in program history, going to the Sweet 16 before being defeated by national champions Grand Valley State University.

“I’m extremely excited to be joining the NIU women’s soccer program,” O’Neill said. “As soon as the administration reached out and expressed an interest in me, it was something that I knew was going to be a great fit for me and my family. I’m excited and I’m under no illusions that it’s going to take a lot of hard work but I am grateful for the opportunity and grateful to Sean (Frazier) and Courtney (Vinson) for trusting me to lead this program.”

Before beginning his coaching career, O’Neill played collegiately at Tiffin University in Tiffin, Ohio, from 2008 to 2011. In four seasons with the Dragons, he helped them to three Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament titles. 

O’Neill inherits a roster that went 5-12-2 in Fall 2021 and will have about five months to prepare for the regular season beginning in August.