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Coaching Jun 07, 2023

University of Denver hires Julianne Sitch to lead women’s soccer program

DENVER – Julianne Sitch, who guided the University of Chicago to its first NCAA Soccer National Championship last season, has been named the next head women’s soccer coach at the University of Denver, Vice Chancellor for Athletics and Ritchie Center Operations Josh Berlo announced.

“Julianne has succeeded in all that she has done in soccer: as a student-athlete at DePaul University, competing as a professional athlete and coaching at the University of Chicago. She has won everywhere she’s been and has consistently made deep postseason runs in her coaching career,” Berlo said. “She brings a wealth of experience and a commitment to academic excellence to the University of Denver. The Pioneers women’s soccer program has a rich tradition and is built to win. We are excited for Julianne to get started and lead the team forward this fall.”

Sitch led the University of Chicago men’s soccer program to its first D-III title in December, capping an unbeaten season (22-0-1) with a 2-0 win over Williams in Salem, Virginia.

The UChicago defense kept 13 clean sheets and allowed just 11 goals in the 23 matches she was in charge of the program, good for a 0.47 goals-against average that ranked seventh in the country. The Maroons trailed for just 64 minutes during their the national-championship campaign. Her student-athletes earned an All-America honor, five All-Region awards and seven All-UAA selections.

“I want to thank Athletic Director Josh Berlo and Chancellor Jeremy Haefner for this incredible opportunity to lead the women’s soccer program,” Sitch said. “Their rich history of success is something we will continue to build upon as we strive to take the program to new heights. I am looking forward to working alongside this talented athletic department and becoming a part of the Pioneer family.”

Prior to her UChicago men’s head coaching job, Sitch had two previous stints as an assistant with the women’s soccer program at UChicago, spending the 2015-17 seasons and the 2019 campaign with the Maroons. UChicago went 67-16-4 (.785) in her time as an assistant, qualifying for the NCAA Tournament in all four seasons and reaching the semifinals in 2016 and the national championship game in 2017. The 2017 program was known for its defense, winning 17 straight matches, keeping 18 clean sheets and allowing just seven goals for a goals-against average of 0.29.

During the 2015-17 seasons, Sitch’s student-athletes combined for 11 All-America honors, produced two Midfielders of the Year and two UAA Players of the Year. Her student-athletes got the job done in the classroom as well, earning two CoSIDA Academic All-America honors and three NSCAA Scholar All-America awards.

Prior to her second stint with UChicago, Sitch got her first experience at the Division I level as a women’s assistant coach in 2018 at the University of Illinois Chicago.

In between her second turn with the UChicago women and her one season as the men’s head coach with the Maroons, Sitch served as the assistant coach for the Chicago Red Stars of the NWSL. In her two seasons there, the Red Stars reached the NWSL Challenge Cup Final in 2020 and the NWSL Playoff Final in 2021.

Outside of the college game, Sitch also worked with the U.S. Soccer Youth National Team (2019-20) and was an assistant coach for the U-16 Girls National Team that won the UEFA Women’s International Development Tournament in Portugal.

As a player herself, the Oswego, Illinois, native was drafted by Sky Blue FC of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) in 2009, winning the championship in her first season. Sitch also played professionally for the Chicago Red Stars, Western New York Flash and Atlanta Beat before professional stops in both Australia and Sweden. On the international level, Sitch was part of the Region II Olympic Development program and earned call-ups to the U-19 U.S. National Team and the U-21 U.S. National Team, winning the Nordic Cup in 2004 with the U-21s.

The 2002 Illinois Gatorade Women’s High School Soccer Player of the Year had a record-setting collegiate career at DePaul University, breaking career records in points (90), goals (32) and assists (26). With a bachelor’s degree in fitness management and physical education, Sitch was a Second Team All-America selection and the Conference USA Player of the Year in 2003 and a First Team All-BIG EAST Selection in 2005.

The Pioneers will begin Sitch’s first season in charge this August. For more on Sitch, including quotes from several figures in the U.S. soccer community, click here.