Kirk Harwat enters his second season as the head men’s soccer coach at Cleveland State University in 2018. The CSU athletic administration announced in October 2016 that Harwat would take over the program 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, was an assistant coach with the CSU program for the five seasons prior to his appointment as head coach.
In his first season in charge, Harwat helped the Vikings reach the Horizon League Tournament Semifinals. Cleveland State won its Tournament quarterfinal match with a 4-0 victory at Wright State, the largest margin of victory by CSU in its Horizon League Tournament history.
Harwat led the Vikings to an improvement of over 50 places in the RPI from the season prior. Cleveland State played one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the nation, as its non-conference strength of schedule ranked 15th at the end of the regular season. CSU faced 10 teams among the top 101 in the RPI, the most in the League, as the Vikings faced three top-15 squads and two that advanced to the Elite Eight.
Harwat achieved these feats while utilizing an incredibly young back line. In 13 of 19 matches, CSU started two freshmen at central defense. The Vikings also started three true freshmen on their four-man back line in both of their HL Tournament matches. Despite the youth, the Vikings allowed only 10 goals from the run of play in their final 16 matches of the campaign.
Harwat made an immediate impact upon his arrival to CSU as an assistant 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 during his time on the bench. Cleveland State has had only one losing record in Horizon League play in Harwat’s tenure, and the Vikings still managed to claim the fourth seed in that outlier season.
During the 2016 campaign, Harwat helped the Vikings allow the fewest goals in the League as freshman Sebastian Kalk topped the conference in save percentage. Kalk finished fifth in Division I in save percentage and was the only freshman among the top 10 in that category. Harwat also helped the Vikings to a win over an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent for the second consecutive season in 2016.
Harwat helped Vikings claim 15 All-Horizon League honors in his five years as an assistant, including nine First Team selections. Additionally, Cam Eisses and Sergio Manesio combined to win three Defensive Player of the Year awards with Harwat's assistance. Manesio was named as one of 10 national finalists for the Senior CLASS Award in 2016 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 other coaching experiences that he can draw upon.
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—including two wins over top-five opponents along with 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 stand 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.
Harwat 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, and their infant son in Mayfield Heights, Ohio.