Virginia Military Institute Athletics Director Dr. Dave Diles announced Tuesday afternoon that Michael Bonelli has accepted the position of head men’s soccer coach.
Bonelli comes to VMI from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas, where he spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons logging 16 victories, one of the best two-year spans in program history. An excellent recruiter, Bonelli assembled Rattler squads that made it to the Heartland Conference semifinals both years, the team’s first back-to-back playoff appearances since 2003.
“Michael Bonelli has a superb background as a highly accomplished Head Coach at two institutions, and holds the ‘A’ license which reflects exceptional technical and strategic knowledge,” Diles said. “However, his most impressive credentials are his abilities to significantly alter the competitive trajectory of the programs that he has had served.
“I first became aware of Michael’s coaching acumen at my previous position and I’ve followed his career closely for a number of years. I’m looking forward to working with him, and our men’s soccer community, to advance the VMI program. Throughout the search, Michael shared a great vision for VMI men’s soccer and expressed a depth of planning that separated him from a very strong group of candidates.”
Over the 2014-15 seasons at St. Mary’s, Bonelli produced two NSCAA All-Region team recipients, nine All-Conference selections and four All-Tournament team honorees.
“I am very excited for the opportunity to join the VMI family,” Bonelli said. “VMI has a great tradition of academic excellence, and I am looking forward to leading the men’s soccer program to achieve success on and off the field. I would like to thank Dr. Diles and the entire VMI family for the opportunity to lead the men’s soccer program.”
In 2014, the East Meadow, New York native delivered St. Mary’s its first winning season since 2002 and the most victories since 2007 with an 8-7-2 campaign. Five Rattlers were named to the All-Heartland Conference Team in 2014 and two to the All-Heartland Tournament team.
His 2014 team was ranked as high as No. 6 in the NSCAA regional rankings and earned a win over No. 20 Fort Lewis, its first victory over a ranked opponent since 2003 and only the second in program history.
Bonelli has a proven history of successful academics among his athletes as three have earned Capital One Academic All-District honors and 43 have been recognized as Heartland Conference Academic Honor Roll selections.
Prior to arriving at St. Mary’s, Bonelli led NCAA D-II Slippery Rock University to national prominence over four seasons, building a culture that culminated in a conference championship, a No. 1 seed in the NCAA regional tournament and a No. 8 national ranking.
He reached the PSAC final twice in four years at Slippery Rock and the conference semifinals three times in four years while amassing a 62-percent winning percentage.
Prior to taking over Slippery Rock, Bonelli was an assistant coach at Wright State in 2009. He spent the previous two years as an assistant coach at Northwestern, where the Wildcats earned top-10 rankings each season. From 2005-07, Bonelli served as an assistant at Lafayette College.
As a collegiate soccer player, Bonelli manned the outside midfielder position at Norwich University in Vermont before transferring to SUNY Cortland in New York, where he received his bachelor’s degree in physical education in 2004. He holds a U.S. Soccer Federation “A” license and National Soccer Coaches Association of America Advanced National Diploma.