George Mason women’s soccer hires Manya Puppione as head coach
“I am very excited to have Manya Puppione lead our women’s soccer program,” Edwards said. “Manya has competed and coached at the highest levels, bringing a great perspective to our program, and will be an outstanding leader and mentor for our student-athletes. She has a strong regional, national and international recruiting base – which will continue to be very impactful for our program. I’m excited about her vision and the type of student athlete experience she will provide while helping Mason compete for Atlantic 10 championships.”
Puppione has 15 years of coaching experience at many different levels, including recent stints as the head coach of Marymount University’s women’s soccer program (2019-21) and as an assistant coach at the University of Maryland (2016-18).
“I am grateful and excited for this opportunity at Mason to continue to build a competitive program both on and off the field,” Puppione said. “It was evident from the moment I set foot on campus that this is a special place with incredible people. I want to thank Brad Edwards for this opportunity to join such a prestigious university and the Patriot athletic family. I want to thank Marymount Athletic Director Jill McCabe for all of the support and guidance as it was a privilege to work with the student-athletes I was fortunate to coach. I am looking forward to getting to know each student-athlete individually and start building relationships that will foster our success here at Mason.”
The Bridgeport, Conn. native led Marymount to the Atlantic East Tournament’s first round in her first season at the helm for the Saints. Puppione’s squad scored 28 goals in 2019, fourth-best in the AEC.
Prior to Marymount, Puppione helped the University of Maryland make significant strides in conference play in 2018. The Terps more than doubled their Big Ten scoring output with 10 goals in conference action and cut their goals against by a third in one year. Maryland improved by four wins in 2017 and went through nonconference play undefeated.
Puppione helped the Terps notch a four-win improvement over 2016, including an unbeaten record in nonconference play. Her efforts also helped the Terps bring in a top-25 recruiting class in 2017.
A Division I standout in college, Puppione played for Arizona State (2002-06) where she was named a Freshman All-American in 2002. She also was successful in the classroom, collecting NSCAA Academic All-American honors in 2004 and ASU Sparky Female Scholar of the Year award. She graduated with a degree in journalism and mass communication from Arizona State before earning a master’s degree at the University of New Haven in business administration in 2008.
A decorated professional and national team player, Puppione played at one time with 13 of the 23 players that made up the roster of the United States’ 2015 World Cup champions. She also played with two FIFA World Players of the Year in Marta and Carli Lloyd, and helped the US capture the 2002 FIFA U-19 World Cup title.
Hailing from Bridgeport, Connecticut, she was in the national team system through a variety of age groups from 2002 to 2008. She was a member of a pair of U-21 national teams that won back-to-back Nordic Cups in 2004 and 2005, then won the same championship as a U-23 member in 2007.
In those youth national teams, Puppione joined up with other notable US standouts such as Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Heather O’Reilly, Lauren Holiday and Amy Rodriguez.
She was also a member of the Los Angeles Sol of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) alongside five-time FIFA World Player of the Year Marta, where they won the regular-season title in 2009 and advanced to the playoff finals. The following season, she moved to WPS’ Atlanta Beat, teaming up with World Cup and Olympic champion Tobin Heath before transitioning her career to Iceland.
Remaining in Europe, she played in Finland for Aland United and was voted Naisten Liiga Player of the Year after breaking the league record for goals.
When she returned to the states, she played for Sky Blue FC in 2013 where they advanced to the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) semifinals.
As a coach, Puppione has served in various roles in clubs throughout her home state of Connecticut, including as a staff coach at USSF training centers.
Several well-known soccer coaches and athletes shared their praise on the hiring of Puppione, including former University of Florida head coach Becky Burleigh and current University of Indiana head coach Erwin van Bennekom.
“Manya is an energetic, passionate and relational coach,” Burleigh said. “She is dedicated to the profession and to making a difference in the lives of those she coaches. I am excited to see her bring her high-level experiences to George Mason!”
“This is a great hire for George Mason Women’s Soccer,” said van Bennekom. “Manya is a great person who will make a massive impact in the overall development of her student-athletes. Manya’s playing background, ability to communicate and tactical understanding is outstanding. Congrats to Manya and George Mason!”