GALESBURG, Illinois—Prairie Fire head men’s soccer coach Tyler Sheikh is leaving Knox College to serve as head men’s soccer coach at Bates College in Lewistown, Maine. Current associate head coach Brian O’Connor will serve as interim Prairie Fire head men’s soccer coach.
Sheikh leaves the program after serving three historic seasons as the head coach. The team posted a win-loss record of 39-10-9 (22-2-4 MWC) while making the Midwest Conference Tournament in each season. They have not lost a conference regular season game in the past two seasons.
“We are happy for Tyler and appreciate the efforts he put into the Knox men’s soccer program,” said Director of Athletics Daniella Irle. “He helped to put the program on the map and created a solid foundation for the future of the Knox men’s soccer program.”
“Knox College is a special place that is always progressing, and Prairie Fire athletics is the embodiment of that progress,” said Sheikh. “I have grown immensely as a coach and person through my work with remarkable student-athletes and colleagues across campus. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to have led one of the best men’s soccer programs in the country.”
With the 2018 season quickly approaching, O’Connor will assume his new role immediately.
“It is important for us to move quickly to solidify our program, and I am incredibly confident that Brian will help our team find continued success,” said Irle. “His experience and knowledge of the program puts him in a great position to make a seamless transition. He has recruited successfully and knows how to navigate the Knox landscape. He understands the expectations of our soccer program and embraces the challenge.”
O’Connor played soccer for four seasons at Illinois College, graduating in 2010. He then joined the United States Army and served tours of duty in Germany and Afghanistan. He came to Knox in spring 2015 after serving as an assistant coach to Sheikh at his alma mater. O’Connor is excited for his first foray into the head coaching ranks after serving as an assistant to the championship team for the last three seasons.
“I would like to thank President Amott and Director of Athletics Daniella Irle for this great opportunity,” said O’Connor. “I am extremely happy and excited to lead this championship program into the 2018 season. With both men’s and women’s soccer coming off championship seasons and the renovation of our field, it is truly an exciting time for Knox soccer.”
The Prairie Fire men’s soccer team will arrive on campus on August 18 to prepare for their first season under O’Connor. The season opener is August 31 at St. John’s University in Minnesota. The home opener and first ever game on the new artificial turf field will take place on September 7 as the Prairie Fire host Westminster. The field, after installation of the Field Turf Revolution 360 mono-filament synthetic surface, will officially be dedicated on September 29 during the Ripon doubleheader as part of Family and Friends weekend.
“We are extremely excited about the future of the men’s soccer program under Brian’s leadership. We have a championship culture of which Brian has been an important part, and we have a new turf field installed. The future is burning bright for this program,” added Irle.