Cleveland, Ohio – Cleveland State University Director of Athletics John Parry announced Thursday that Kirk Harwat will take over as the head men's soccer coach at the conclusion of the 2016 season.
Harwat, a North Royalton, Ohio native who was a standout performer in college that went on to play professionally in Germany, is in his fifth season as an assistant coach with the CSU program.
"I would like to thank President Berkman, Director of Athletics John Parry and Senior Associate Athletics Director Virnette House-Browning along with the entire athletic department for this amazing opportunity to lead the men's soccer program at Cleveland State University," Harwat said. "I would also like to give a special thanks to Coach Ali Kazemaini for believing in me to be the next head coach at the program that he has built over the last 11 years."
"Being a Cleveland native, and having been a part of the Northeast Ohio soccer community my entire life, I couldn't be more honored and excited to lead this program," Harwat said. "I am extremely motivated to do everything possible to develop our student-athletes both on and off the field and to continue to grow our relationship with the city of Cleveland."
"Based on his playing experience professionally and at Akron along with his contributions to CSU soccer over the past five years, Kirk has demonstrated that he is the right person to succeed Ali Kazemaini as the next head coach," Parry said. "I love his passion and his commitment to see every student-athlete improve on and off the pitch."
Harwat made an immediate impact upon his arrival to CSU as he helped the 2012 squad to the Horizon League Tournament title and the program's first berth in the NCAA Tournament in 32 years. That 2012 team went on a nine-match unbeaten run in October and November, the program's longest such stretch in 19 years. Cleveland State led the Horizon League in goals scored and finished among the top 30 in Division I in goals against average.
Harwat has helped keep the Vikings in the upper half of the Horizon League table throughout his tenure. Cleveland State has finished among the top four in the League standings in each of his seasons on staff, the only program that can make that claim. Thus far in the 2016 campaign, he has helped the Vikings to a league-leading goals against average mark as freshman Sebastian Kalk tops the conference in both goals against average and save percentage. Harwat has also helped the Vikings to a win over an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent for the second consecutive season in 2016.
Harwat has helped Vikings claim 12 All-Horizon League honors in his four years, including seven First Team selections. Additionally, Cam Eisses and Sergio Manesio have both garnered Defensive Player of the Year awards with Harwat's assistance. Manesio was named a semifinalist for the Senior CLASS Award earlier this season and was selected as the Horizon League's Men's Soccer Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the 2015 campaign.
In addition to his time at CSU, Harwat has a variety of coaching experiences that he can draw on once he takes over the top spot.
He served as an assistant for two years with Richmond (2010-11) and also was an assistant with Louisville in 2008. Harwat helped the Cardinals to 11 wins, which at the time was one off the program record, two wins over top-five opponents and the program's second-ever berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Prior to his time at Richmond, Harwat served as the assistant coach for the U-16 and U-18 teams at Internationals Development Academy. He guided the U-16 team to a division title and a subsequent berth in the national championship.
Harwat began his collegiate playing career at Ashland where he notched 19 goals and eight assists as a freshman, earning the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Newcomer of the Year award. His 19 goals ranked fourth in the nation and still stands as a single-season school record. After scoring 15 more goals as a sophomore and helping the Eagles to a top ten national ranking, Harwat transferred to Akron. He was named Mid-American Conference Newcomer of the Year in 2002, on the strength of a team-leading nine goals and 22 points, and helped the Zips to the MAC Tournament title. He added nine goals and 23 points in his senior season in which the Zips advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament, at the time their furthest advancement in the event in over 15 years.
After earning four first team all-conference honors and multiple all-region honors as a collegian, Harwat was one of 50 players invited to the Major League Soccer combine. He went on to sign a professional contract with Borussia Monchengladbach, a German club with which he played for three years.
Harwat graduated from Akron in 2005 with a degree in business marketing. He currently resides with his wife, Julie, in Mayfield Heights, Ohio.
Current head coach Ali Kazemaini announced prior to the 2016 season that he would step down at the conclusion of the season to spend more time with his family and concentrate on his personal business.