When Ali Kazemaini took over the Cleveland State soccer program in 2006, the team was coming off a winless season and expectations were not very high.
It didn’t take long for Kazemaini to turn the program around. Cleveland State has been seeded fourth or higher in the Horizon League Tournament in each of the past eight years, the longest active streak in the league.
Kazemaini's best season with the Vikings came in 2012 when the team won 11 games and was able to bring home the Horizon League Tournament title, helping Cleveland State qualify for the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1980.
In his 24 years as a head coach, Kazemaini has compiled a record of 253-171-34, including 77 victories at Cleveland State in total, and a 38-22-9 record at Krenzler Field over the past eight seasons.
Kazemaini has helped produce 28 All-Horizon League selections in his tenure at CSU, including 15 First Team selections. Sergio Manesio’s selection as Defensive Player of the Year in 2015 was the second for a Viking in the past four years.
Kazemaini returned immediate results upon taking over the CSU program as he led the Vikings to the largest turnaround among all NCAA Division I programs in 2006, ending the season with a 6-10-2 record.
During the 2007 season, the Vikings finished with a record of 3-7-2 in matches decided by one goal or fewer, indicating they were better than their 3-12-3 overall record.
The Vikings were able to rebound under Kazemaini in 2008 by going 5-5-2 in matches decided by one goal or fewer and posting an overall record of 9-8-3, leading the team to the finals of the Horizon League Championship for the first time since 2002.
Kazemaini came back to Cleveland State after 14 successful seasons as head coach at John Carroll University.
Kazemaini took over at JCU in 1992 and the Blue Streaks immediately benefited, going 15-2-1 and winning the Ohio Athletic Conference Championship in his first season. The accomplishments quickly piled up. He won seven OAC regular season titles during his 14 years, earning a league tournament berth 12 times and claiming four tournament championships.
He guided his teams to the NCAA Tournament in 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2005, highlighted by a trip to the round of 16 in 2003.
For his efforts, Kazemaini was named OAC Coach of the Year three times (2000, 2001, & 2005) and the NSCAA/Adidas Regional Coach of the Year twice (2000 & 2001).
During his tenure at John Carroll, Kazemaini coached players who won all-league honors 42 times, all-region accolades 21 times and 31 All-Ohio choices.
In the classroom, eight of his players were named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District team, with two earning Academic All-America honors.
A native of Tehran, Iran, Kazemaini originally came to Cleveland State in 1980 and played on teams that compiled a 42-21-12 record, making one NCAA tournament appearance.
Kazemaini, one of two players in Viking history to lead the team in scoring four straight years, currently ranks fifth in CSU history in goals (41), sixth in total points (102) and ninth in assists (20).
Kazemaini began his CSU playing career in fine fashion, leading the team in goals (6), assists (4) and points (16) in 1980.
He came back the following year to double his scoring totals, tallying team highs in all three categories with 12 goals, eight assists and 32 points to earn second team All-America and first team All-Ohio accolades, helping CSU to a 14-5-2 record.