Don D’Ambra wrapped up his eighth season as the head coach of the Saint Joseph’s men’s soccer program in Fall 2017. One of the most decorated former SJU student-athletes to be named a head coach on Hawk Hill, D’Ambra was introduced as the fourth head coach in the program’s history on April 15, 2010. D’Ambra’s current eight-year record on Hawk Hill stands as 34-90-19.
The Hawks are coming off of a 3-11-4 season in 2017, with a 1-6-1 mark in Atlantic 10 action. D’Ambra coached freshman midfielder Ritchie Barry to Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team honors, and Saint Joseph’s earned wins over Temple, Manhattan, and George Mason and draws with Hartford, VMI, Central Connecticut, and UMass. SJU’s win over Temple was the program’s first since 2013.
The Hawks went 6-11-1 season and 3-5-0 in the A-10 in 2016. D’Ambra coached senior midfielder Bliss Harris and junior midfielder Matt Crawford to Atlantic 10 Second Team All-Conference honors, marking the first time the program had earned any type of All-Conference status since 2003. Saint Joseph’s earned non-conference wins over Howard, Hartford, and Central Connecticut State, improving to 4-0 all-time against Howard and earning the first wins in program history over Hartford and Central Connecticut State. SJU opened A-10 play with three consecutive wins for the first time since 2007.
Saint Joseph’s improved upon a 2015 season in which the squad went 4-12-2; D’Ambra coached freshman forward Derek MacKinnon to Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team honors while senior forward Emmanuel Temeh and Harris earned Philadelphia Soccer Six All-Star Team accolades.
In 2014, D’Ambra coached the Hawks to an overall record of 7-7-4 to reach the program’s highest single-season win total since 2003. Saint Joseph’s jumped out to a 5-1-2 start to kick off the season, which marked the program’s best record over its first eight matches since 2002. Over a six-match stretch from September 5-24, the Hawks went 4-0-2, which was the program’s longest unbeaten stretch since 1994.
In 2013, D’Ambra led the Hawks to just their third A-10 postseason appearance in program history and their first since 1994. Saint Joseph’s held a scoreless tie with George Mason before the Patriots advanced on penalty kicks. With the draw, D’Ambra coached the Hawks to a 5-8-6 overall record for a .421 winning percentage, the program’s highest since 2003, and to a 2-4-3 conference record, marking the first time since 2007 that the men’s soccer program had notched more than two league wins in one season.
The 2012 season marked tremendous growth of the Saint Joseph’s men’s soccer program as the Hawks posted a 5-11-2 overall record while going 1-6-2 in the Atlantic 10. The Hawks recorded the same amount of wins as in their previous three seasons combined en route to putting together a pair of ties late in the season to prevent losses against La Salle and Fordham for the first time since 2008 and 2006, respectively.
In 2011, D’Ambra compiled identical overall and conference records as in his inaugural season, putting together a two-year record of 4-30-0 overall and 2-16-0 in conference play.
In his first season at SJU, D’Ambra led the 2010 Hawks to an overall record of 2-15-0 and 1-8-0 in the A-10 as the squad snapped a 24-game losing streak with a 1-0 win over Iona and won its first conference match since 2008 in a 2-0 victory over Rhode Island.
Through seven seasons, D’Ambra has coached two A-10 All-Conference Second Team selections, two A-10 All-Rookie picks, eight Philadelphia Soccer Six All-Stars, seven Philadelphia Soccer Six All-Rookie selections, and an Atlantic 10 Academic All-Conference selection.
D’Ambra returned to Saint Joseph’s after a successful coaching and playing career with the Philadelphia KiXX of the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL). He played a total of 16 seasons in the MISL, the last 14 seasons with the KiXX, and served as team captain, assistant coach, and head coach. In 2002, he assumed duties as the head coach of the KiXX and served as the vice president of soccer operations/head coach until 2009-10. D’Ambra helped the KiXX to two MISL championships, as a player in 2002 and player/coach in 2007. A four-time All-Star selection, D’Ambra is the KiXX’s all-time leading scorer with 388 goals and 905 points. In eight seasons as head coach, he totaled 119 wins, the most in the team’s history.
While at Saint Joseph’s from 1990-94, D’Ambra was a Regional All-America First Team selection and Philadelphia Soccer Seven Player of the Year and remains the only player in Hawk history to earn the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year award, winning it in 1993. D’Ambra holds the SJU career records for goals (41) and points (102), as well as the marks for goals (15) and points (38) in a season, set in 1993. He was inducted into SJU’s Men’s Soccer Hall of Fame in 2000.
“We are pleased and honored to welcome back Don D’Ambra as our new head men’s soccer coach. Don is committed to the SJU mission to enhance the overall student-athlete experience,” said director of athletics Don DiJulia. “Don’s passion and commitment to excel will encourage the success of our student-athletes and the soccer program from its solid foundation built by his predecessors – Tom Turner, Jack Ruggero and Jack Dunn. He brings energy and a vision for the future of the Hawk soccer program. Don made us proud during his playing days here and will make us even more proud during his tenure as our head coach.”
D’Ambra owns a USSF “A” coaching license and has been involved with coaching youth teams, conducting coaching clinics and organizing skills and development programs for over 14 years.
He possesses international playing experience, having been a member of the United States National Futsal Team from 2002 through 2008. With 15 international caps, D’Ambra has participated in the World Championships and the Pan American Games.
D’Ambra replaced Tom Turner, who retired after 23 seasons as the Hawks’ head coach and had been an assistant coach on Turner’s staff at SJU from 1996-99.
A native of Philadelphia, D’Ambra attended North Catholic High School and graduated from Saint Joseph’s in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and concentration in food marketing. D’Ambra and his wife, Leslie, have three daughters – Samantha, Kylie and Milana. Kylie is a rising junior on the Saint Joseph’s women’s soccer team.