Clive of Portland: Soccer Coach Guides University of Portland's Men's & Women's Teams to Record-Setting Year

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Clive of Portland: Soccer Coach Guides University of Portland's Men's &. Women's Teams to Record-setting Year

Soccer is prime-time stuff at the University of Portland. Clive Charles is the reason why.

In 10 years, Charles, the school's director of soccer, has sculpted the Pilots into a work of art, a program that has emerged as one of the elites in the college game. Charles' contributions are laudable and especially noteworthy because he coaches the men's and women's teams.

Under Charles, UP has become a regular in postseason play. The men have appeared in the NCAA playoffs seven of the last eight years; the women have gone four years in a row.

Last year, Charles pulled off the rarest of doubles, as both teams earned berths at NCAA soccer's Final Four -- making him only the second coach in college history to guide two teams to the Final Four in the same season. His bid to become the first coach to take both teams to the 1995 championship game fell short when both Pilot squads lost in the semifinals.

Portland has been Charles' only job at the college level and he's made the most of it. His combined winning percentage (which includes 10 seasons with the men, seven with the women) is an eye-catching 70.4 percent.

So how is it that Portland, a relatively tiny school of 2,300 students, is able to go toe-to-toe against its larger, more well-established brethren in NCAA Division I -- and win consistently?

Soccer is King

When it comes to college sports, UP is not the main attraction in its home state. The University of Oregon and Oregon State get most of the notoriety.

In spite of that, Charles and the Pilots continue to build a sterling reputation. As far as the coach is concerned, there are no mystical secrets that have paved the way for Portland's fortunes.

For starters, soccer is the undisputed king at UP. Football and basketball play second and third fiddle. Merlo Field, UP's home stadium, is one of the top-rated soccer facilities in the country and women's soccer is a major happening all by itself. The Pilot women led the NCAA in total and average home attendance last year.

Those factors play a key role in how the sport's status has reached new heights at Portland. …