By Logan VanDine
AFTER 12 years and three Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Championships under Charlie Inverso, Rider men’s soccer now has a new leader in Head Coach Chad Duernberger.
Duernberger, who has coached three collegiate teams, is looking to prove to the Rider community that he can win.
Originally from Belle, West Virginia, Duernberger had visited New Jersey in the distant past, but when he came back several months ago, he knew this was the place for him to coach.
“I got [to New Jersey] in January when I first got the job and I love it here,” said Duernberger. “My dad is originally from New York right outside of the city, so for me, we would always make trips here. He played college soccer as well and his teammates were from Point Pleasant Beach so we would come to Jersey quite a bit.”
When Duernberger played soccer at the youth level and into high school and college, there was one position he enjoyed playing the most that helped him with his coaching style.
“I was a forward and I think it has definitely impacted my coaching,” said Duernberger. “Everything we do is by attacks so we are an attacking-style soccer program.”
When he played high school soccer at West Virginia, he compiled an incredible resume as he won his time winning the 2001 West Virginia High School State Forward of the Year and was named First Team All-State in three consecutive seasons.
“It was awesome, I really enjoyed my experience playing high school soccer, it’s so different now for these kids. They’re on club teams all season round so they can’t even play for their high school teams. I really enjoyed my experience playing for my high school team,” said Duernberger.
When it came time to pick the college where he’d play soccer, the University of Charleston in West Virginia, his parent’s alma mater, was not a hard choice.
“My mom and dad both went to school there and I grew up about 15 minutes from there,” said Duernberger. “I just loved the environment of the games as a high school student and that’s where I wanted to go,” he said. “I played there all four years and then went to Marshall to get my masters, and after that, the job opened up at Charleston.”
Duernberger was also a head coach at Charleston for three years and an assistant coach at Penn State for seven years when he took over coaching both teams, he helped develop a winning culture.
When Duernberger inherited Charleston men’s soccer, it had previously gone 0-17.
“[Charleston] took a chance on me,”said Duernberger. “I was 24 years old at the time and there were players on the team that were 23. … We finished that first season 4-11-2, and the next year we went 19-4 and went to the Elite 8 and finished seventh in the country.”
When Duernberger was first an assistant coach of the Nittany Lions, he helped them win back-to-back Big Ten regular season titles, and coached them in two NCAA Tournament appearances.
Penn State also won the Big Ten in 2013, and when it entered the tournament, it advanced to the Sweet 16 after upsetting No. 10 UC Santa Barbara. Duernberger was later elevated to associate head coach in 2016.
After 10 seasons coaching for Charleston and Penn State, Duernberger caught the attention of Rider Athletic Director Don Harnum, who was searching for a new Rider men’s soccer head coach.
“Coach Duernberger emerged as the leading candidate from a very strong pool of potential candidates,” Harnum said in an email. “What separated him was that he had fortunate head coaching experience, as well as successful Division I experience as an assistant coach. His personal philosophy, core values and a clear vision of how he would run the men’s soccer program also resonated during the interview process.”
Senior forward Justin Ruffino also raved about Duernberger and spoke about his first impressions of the journeyman head coach.
“My first impressions of Coach Duernberger have been very positive and trusting. I think coming in he created an environment and locker room that is extremely close and will go fight for each other on the field. So far, this has been the closest Rider team I have been a part of and it makes us all look forward to coming to training every day,” Ruffino said.
Duernberger also doesn’t feel any pressure in his first season coaching for the Broncs, and he also gave kudos to what Inverso did during his 12-year tenure at Rider.
“I don’t feel any pressure,” said Duernberger. “First I would tell you, hats off to Charlie [Inverso]. He was fantastic, Charlie is a great person, he helped me with this transition and told me to call him if I ever had a question. … Overall I don’t feel any pressure. I just want to instill all of our core values in the program. We talk about attitude, work ethic, competition and discipline. Those are our values and we go at those every single day.”
When asked if he was given any advice by Inverso, there was one thing that he left in his now former office for Duernberger that stood out the most to the first-year Broncs head coach.
“To show his professionalism and how great of a guy he is, I walked into his office, which was his baby for 12 years,” said Duernberger with a smile. “This was his program, and when I walked into his office all cleaned out, he left on note on my desk that said, ‘Good luck, Chad.’”