In five years, Tom Poitras has engineered a rapid turnaround of the University of Hartford men’s soccer program since his arrival in 2011. Creating a culture of winning, the Hawks have reached new heights in the region and the America East since his arrival. Backed by 22 years of head coaching experience that features a career record of 235-138-55, the 29th-best career win percentage among all active NCAA Division I men’s soccer coaches, Poitras has proven to be a success everywhere he has coached, and Hartford is no exception.
In the seasons prior to his arrival, the program suffered several losing campaigns, but under Poitras, Hartford has compiled winning records in two of the last three years. For the first time in 15 years, the Hawks posted back-to-back, double-digit win seasons in 2013 and 2014. In addition, in his five seasons, Poitras and his squad have amassed a record of 44-35-16, making three trips to the America East Championship title game during that stretch.
Contributing to Hartford’s recent success is Poitras’ coaching philosophy, one that puts emphasis on defense and teamwork. In 2013, the Hawks shut out 11 opponents, the most in the program’s Division I history, while holding opponents to a school-record goals-against average of 0.81, the 32nd-best mark in the nation.
A key milestone for both Poitras and the Hartford men’s soccer program was reached in 2013 when Lowe, a three-year defender, became the first Hawk in 17 years to get drafted by a Major League Soccer squad. Also a second-team All-Northeast Region pick as a junior in 2013, Lowe was drafted eighth overall by the Seattle Sounders, marking the second-highest pick among all of Hartford’s 18 Division I sports. Since starting his collegiate coaching career in the mid-90s, 18 of Poitras’ players have gone on to play professionally.
Poitras’ dominance has translated from the pitch into the classroom. Hartford has dominated academically, as the squad has posted the highest grade point average among its America East peers in three of the last four seasons. In 2015, Poitras’ team paved the way with a 3.16 team grade point average to help Hartford clinch its fourth-straight America East Academic Cup in 2014-15. Since his arrival, 15 America East All-Academic Team awards have been handed out to eight different men’s soccer players, including a program-record four in both 2013 and 2014.
Poitras’ impact was felt immediately upon his arrival in 2011 as he turned a struggling program that won just five matches the year before into one that reached the title match of the America East Championships for the first time since 1999. That squad ranked second in the America East in scoring with 1.38 goals per game, nearly doubling the team’s goal production from the previous season (0.73-per-game). In addition, Hartford’s 29 goals that year were the most in a single season since 2003 when the team netted 30 goals in 22 games.
Poitras has also helped improve the attendance figures since arriving at Hartford by creating an exciting atmosphere. Attracting fans from both on campus and the Greater Hartford community, the Hawks drew 8,145 fans to Al-Marzook Field at Alumni Stadium in their eight games in 2014, averaging an impressive 1,018 fans per game last season.
At all four of his collegiate coaching stints, Poitras has helped bring in several top recruiting classes. During his coaching career, he has developed 13 All-Americans, 40 All-Region and 95 All-Conference members.
Prior to arriving at Hartford, Poitras was the head coach at the University of Wisconsin Green Bay, where in seven seasons, he piloted the Phoenix to an impressive 72-46-18 record, including four Horizon League Championship game appearances. Most impressively, Poitras guided Green Bay to a historic season in 2009 that saw the program earn its first-ever Horizon League title coupled with an NCAA Division I Tournament appearance, the first in 26 years.
Before UW-Green Bay, Poitras spent the previous six seasons at Southern New Hampshire where he amassed a record of 81-25-16, which included four NCAA Division II tournament appearances and five seasons with 10 wins. In 2002, Poitras took the Penman to the NCAA Division II championship game and was named the NSCAA New England Region Coach of the Year after posting a 20-3-2 mark on the season. In addition, Poitras produced eight All-Americans and led the Penmen to top-20 national rankings in five consecutive seasons.
Poitras’ coaching career began with a four-year stint at the University of New Haven, where he orchestrated one of the nation’s top single-season turnarounds, lifting the Chargers to back-to-back 10-win seasons after inheriting a squad that posted just five victories prior to his arrival. Deemed the New England Collegiate Conference Coach of the Year in 1996, Poitras culminated a 15-6-1 mark in the 1997 season.
Poitras played his college soccer at Southern Connecticut State from 1987-91, serving as a four-year starter for the Owls. In addition, he helped the team capture the Division II national championship team in 1987. He graduated from SCSU in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in recreation and leisure studies and went on the play at the professional level spending two seasons with the Connecticut Wolves of the Interregional Soccer League.
Poitras holds his USSF ‘A’ coaching license and USSF National Youth License while recently receiving an NSCAA Premier Diploma. He currently works as a US Soccer Developmental Academy Scout and has served as an Olympic Development staff coach both in Region I and Region II. Additionally, he was a USSF Coaches Licensing Program Associate Director in Connecticut.
Poitras and his wife, Alison, reside in Southington, Conn. with their son, Ian (12), and daughter, Ella (9).