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University of Central Arkansas

University of Central Arkansas Athletics
201 Donaghey Ave - Bear Hall - 4th Fl Conway, AR 72035
Division 1 Arkansas South
Public Medium National competitor

Coaches

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Ross Duncan

Ross Duncan enters his tenth season with the Central Arkansas men’s soccer program, and eighth as head coach. During his time at the helm, he has reshaped the Bears, culminating in the program’s first –ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2017. Duncan led the Bears to a second straight NCAA Tournament appearance in 2018.


Duncan, who spent his first two seasons in Conway as an assistant coach in 2010 and associate head coach in 2011, was chosen to lead the program in a new direction in 2012.


A 2004 graduate of Oregon State, where he was a four-year letterwinner while starting on the back line and at outside midfield for the first two OSU squads to make the NCAA Tournament (2002 & 2003) and earned Pac-10 All-Academic honors as a senior in 2003, Duncan began his collegiate coaching career at the University of Vermont in 2007, serving as an assistant coach with the Catamounts for three seasons and helping guide them to a second round appearance in the 2007 NCAA Tournament.


His time in Conway has seen the Bears transition from a Division I Independent to a member of the Sun Belt Conference. During his first two seasons on staff, Central Arkansas won just five games overall and one in conference play, leading Athletic Director Dr. Brad Teague to hand the keys to the program to Duncan following the 2011 season.


His first season at the helm saw the Bears turn in their best season since moving to Division I in 2006, winning eight games and making the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament for the first time. After winning just seven matches over the next three seasons while rebuilding program following the 2012 season, the Bears appear to have turned the corner in the 2016 and 2017 seasons, combining for 16 wins and collecting multiple MVC wins in each season, the only two times in program history that the Bears have collected more than a single win in Valley play.


The 2016 season saw Central Arkansas go 5-0-2 over its final seven games, including 4-0-2 in MVC matches to lock up the fourth seed in the Missouri Valley Tournament, where they played host Missouri State to a 1-1 but were edged out on PKs 5-4. After a slow start to the 2017 season, the Bears again finished strong, closing out with a 7-4-1 record over their final 12 regular season matches to earn the second seed in the MVC Tournament. Central Arkansas again found itself headed to PKs after a 1-1 draw with the host, in this case Bradley, but was able to flip the result, edging out the Braves 8-7 to advance to the title match against top-seeded Missouri State, where a 1-0 extra-time win put them in the NCAA Tournament for the first time.


Under Duncan’s guidance, the Bears have had earned 22 All-MVC honors, 10 MVC All-Freshman honors, placed eight players on the MVC Scholar-Athlete team, and seen Niklas Brodacki earn MVC Freshman of the Year honors in 2016, MVC Offensive Player of the Year honors twice (2016 & 2017), and MVC Player of the Year honors twice in 2017 and 2018. In addition, Duncan and his staff (Mitch McKay, Jordan Bates, Nick Doyle) were named the MVC’s Coaching Staff of the Year in 2017.


A native of Corvallis, Oregon, Duncan received his degree in cultural anthropology from Oregon State in 2004. Following his graduation, he played for two seasons in Australia for the Queensland Lions and the Brisbane Strikers. He returned to the U.S. in 2005 and spent that season as an assistant coach at Corvallis High School before a brief stint with the Baltimore Blast of the MISL in 2006.


Duncan and his wife Lindsey have two children, Taylor (6) and Lincoln (5).

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Matt Taphorn

Matt Taphorn enters his third stint in Conway, and his second season as an assistant coach for the Bears.


Taphorn returns to Central Arkansas following a season spent at UNC-Wilmington, where he helped lead the Seahawks to one of the best seasons in recent history with a second-place finish in the Colonial Athletic Association and a second-round appearance in the NCAA Tournament.


Taphorn initially came to Conway as a player and quickly cemented himself as a mainstay in coach Ross Duncan’s lineup, ending his career four years later after 48 starts and a pair of All-Missouri Valley Conference nods. He wrapped up his playing career following 4,346 minutes played, good for the third-most in program history at the time and still the seventh-highest mark in the UCA record book.


Taphorn made his debut on the Central Arkansas coaching staff in 2016, serving as Director of Operations for what was the Bears’ most successful season at the Division I level to that point, helping guide them to a 7-7-3 overall mark and a 4-3-1 record in league play.

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