Notre Dame's victory over Oregon State at Notre Dame, Ind. (Alumni Stadium) W, 1-0 on September 7, 2012.
BJ Craig is entering his sixth season on the Notre Dame staff in 2013. He was promoted to associate head coach in February. The Fighting Irish have enjoyed a successful stretch with Craig on the sidelines, posting a 59-30-15 record, reaching the NCAA Championship on four occasions and winning two BIG EAST titles.
The Fighting Irish compiled one of the top seasons in the history of the program in 2012 as they won their first seven matches en route to a 17-4-1 record, which signified the most wins for the Irish since 1988. Notre Dame won the BIG EAST Championship, its final before moving to the Atlantic Coast Conference, and garnered the No. 1 overall seed for the NCAA Championship for the first time in program history.
After receiving a first-round bye, Notre Dame topped Michigan State, 3-0, in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Unfortunately, the Irish saw their tremendous season come to an end with a heartbreaking 2-1 double-overtime setback to eventual national champion Indiana in the tournament's Round of 16.
Notre Dame boasted two first team All-Americans in Ryan Finley and Dillon Powers and that duo was among five Irish players that garnered all-BIG EAST accolades for the '12 season. The Irish produced 22 all-BIG EAST selections during Craig's time on campus. In addition, Finley was named the 2012 BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year and was a finalist for the M.A.C. Hermann Trophy. Craig also mentored Bright Dike, the 2009 BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year.
Powers continued to illustrate Notre Dame's success in the classroom as he was named an NSCAA Scholar All-American for the second straight season and was a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award. Harrison Shipp also was tapped as an NSCAA Scholar All-American in addition to receiving Academic All-America honors from the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).
Finley and Powers both were first round picks in the 2013 Major League Soccer (MLS) SuperDraft and they are among 16 MLS draft picks since Craig has been at Notre Dame. That list includes MLS All-Stars Matt Besler and Justin Morrow.
Besler and Morrow established another monumental moment for the Fighting Irish program as they became the first Notre Dame alums to earn a cap with the United States Senior National Team when they started on the backline in a friendly versus Canada on Jan. 29, 2013. Besler also has earned multiple starts with the U.S. squad during qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.
Craig has witnessed other Fighting Irish players experience success on the international level. Powers and Aaron Maund both were members of the United States team that competed at the 2009 U-20 World Cup in Egypt. In August of 2010, Powers was named the MVP of the Milk Cup Tournament as he helped lead the U.S. U-20 squad to the title with a 3-0 record. Dike has played in multiple games with the Nigerian National Team and he became the first Notre Dame alum to score a goal for a senior national team as he deposited the equalizer in a friendly against Catalonia on Jan. 2, 2013.
During Craig's first season at Notre Dame in 2008, the squad won the BIG EAST Blue Division crown with a 7-2-2 league mark and finished 12-7-2 overall. The Fighting Irish were seeded 12th for the NCAA Championship and fell to Northwestern, 2-1, in the second round. Notre Dame has garnered one of the 16 national seeds for the NCAA Championship three times in the last five seasons.
Besler became the first player in program history to be named a first team All-American and first team Academic All-American when he accomplished the feat following the '08 season. In addition, Besler was the first Irish player to be named the NSCAA Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Besler and Dike were both first team all-BIG EAST selections and headlined a group of five Notre Dame players to cop all-league honors.
Besler heard his named called during the 2009 MLS SuperDraft when he was taken with the eighth pick overall in the first round by the Kansas City Wizards. That marked the highest a Fighting Irish player had ever been nabbed in the SuperDraft. Besler was named a 2011 MLS All-Star, becoming the first Irish alum to garner that distinction.
In 2009, Notre Dame posted an 11-8-4 record and finished second in the BIG EAST Blue Division. Notre Dame missed out on winning the BIG EAST Championship title as the Irish were taken down in penalty kicks by St. John's, 5-3, following a scoreless draw in the final. The Irish opened the `09 NCAA tournament with a 2-1 first-round win over Green Bay and then suffered a 3-1 setback at Northwestern.
Six Notre Dame players garnered all-BIG EAST honors in `09. Dike, the conference leader in points (26) and goals (11), was named the league's top offensive player. Michael Thomas, an Academic All-American, joined Dike on the all-BIG EAST first team. Dike, Thomas and Morrow all were selected during the 2010 MLS SuperDraft.
The Irish advanced to the semifinals of the league tournament for the third straight season in 2010 and garnered the No. 9 seed and a first-round bye for the NCAA Championship. The Irish fell to Dartmouth, 2-1 in overtime, during the second round to finish the season with a 10-6-4 record.
Five Notre Dame student-athletes received all-BIG EAST accolades for the `10 season. Headlining the honorees were first-team selections Jeb Brovsky and Steven Perry. Perry led all BIG EAST players in goals with 12 and was tied for the points lead with 28. The senior duo also was named to the NSCAA Scholar All-America team. Brovsky, Perry and Bilal Duckett were picked in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, while Philip Tuttle was taken in the supplemental draft.
Craig copped accolades of his own in 2010 as he was named one of the top 20 assistant coaches in NCAA Division I men's soccer according to College Soccer News.
Notre Dame registered a 9-5-4 record in 2011 and the Irish saw their season come to an end in a 1-0 setback to Villanova in the first round of the BIG EAST Championship. The Fighting Irish boasted three all-BIG EAST honorees, including Maund, who was a first-team selection. The Fighting Irish sent three players into the MLS following the `11 campaign. Maund and Brendan King were chosen in the SuperDraft, while Greg Klazura went in the supplemental draft.
Craig joined the Notre Dame program after being an assistant coach at the University of Louisville during the 2007 campaign. In his lone season at Louisville, Craig helped guide the Cardinals to an 11-7-4 record and a berth in the NCAA Championship. The Cardinals won a first-round match against Duke, 1-0, before dropping a 1-0 decision at Ohio State. The Cardinals finished second in the BIG EAST's Red Division with a 6-3-2 league mark and advanced to the semifinals of the conference tournament.
Prior to his stint at Louisville, Craig had a four-year stint (2003-06) as head coach at Saint Francis University (Pa.). Craig posted a 31-31-13 record at Saint Francis and left with the second-most wins in program history. He led the Red Flash to their first two Northeast Conference (NEC) tournament appearances and also produced the program's first winning season during the 2004 campaign en route to being named the NEC Coach of the Year. Craig led Saint Francis to a 27-19-11 record, including an 18-11-7 mark in the NEC, over his final three seasons. The Red Flash produced a winning record in each of those three seasons and he developed two NSCAA all-region honorees and seven all-conference selections.
Craig led his 2006 Saint Francis team to the school's first-ever appearance in the NEC championship match. He guided the Red Flash to a 10-7-3 mark, which tied a school record that was previously set in Craig's second season with the program in 2004.
Craig joined the Red Flash staff after serving as an assistant coach at Dartmouth College from 1998-2003. In the fall of 2002, he helped lead the perennial Ivy League power to a conference championship and a 9-7-1 overall record. The Big Green posted a 5-1-1 league mark and finished the `02 season ranked third in the Northeast Region. Craig also helped direct the Big Green to an NCAA tournament berth in 2000.
Prior to joining the Dartmouth staff, Craig served as an assistant coach at his alma mater Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., from 1995-96. During his tenure at Gordon, the Fighting Scots posted a 30-8-4 record and qualified for the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) Tournament both seasons.
Craig, a native of Westford, Mass., is a 1993 graduate of Gordon College with a bachelor's degree in mathematics. He earned one varsity letter at the University of Massachusetts Lowell before transferring to Gordon College, where he lettered twice. Craig helped Gordon College to the Commonwealth Coast Conference championship in 1992. He earned a master's degree in education from the University of Massachusetts Lowell in 1997. He is a member of the NSCAA and holds a USSF B License.
Craig and his wife, Erin, are the parents of four children, Noah (16), Micah (14), Jonah (11) and Mattea (9).