Former Portland star Michelle French
has returned to her alma mater as its new women's head coach. French, who helped the Pilots reach the final four three times as a player, spent the past 12
years coaching in the U.S. women's national team program. She coached the USA at the 2014 and 2016 U-20 Women's World Cups.
French, who earned 14 caps for the USA and was a member
of the 2000 Olympic team that claimed a silver medal, becomes the fourth head coach at the NCAA Division I level for the Pilots.
French replaces Garrett Smith
, who coached Portland
to an undefeated championship season in 2005 with a team that included Christine Sinclair
, Megan Rapinoe
and Stephanie Lopez
Smith served 11 years as an assistant
coach to both the men’s and women’s programs under the late Clive Charles
before transitioning to women’s head coach for the last 15 seasons.
finished the 2017 season with a 5-13-1 record and tied for ninth in the WCC with a 2-7-0 mark, missing the NCAA Tournament for the fourth consecutive season.
"Michelle brings a wealth of
experience, passion and leadership to our storied women's soccer program," UP's vice president for athletics Scott Leykam
said. "Among a diverse and highly qualified pool of candidates,
Michelle really stood out to be a great fit. She has thrived on personal and professional development and has decided to leave a high-profile coaching position to take on this new challenge. Our fans,
alumni, faculty and staff will love working with her in building on the tradition of excellence for Portland soccer, both on and off the field."