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Oct. 22, 2008
SPARTANBURG, S.C. - Jeff Negalha, who is now an assistant coach at UNC Chapel Hill, was a two-year starter in goal for the former USCS and led the Rifles to the NCAA quarterfinal round in 1997 and the NCAA national championship in 1998. In his two-year career at USCS, Negalha started 47 games and recorded 19.5 shutouts while allowing just 33 goals through nearly 3,900 minutes. He also helped the Rifles win two Peach Belt regular season championships and two conference tournament titles.
Following his playing days, Negalha was an assistant coach at USCS from 1999-2002, helping to guide the Rifles to an NCAA Division II Elite Eight appearance and a No. 5 national ranking in the final poll of 2002. He also helped recruit and coach the Peach Belt Conference Player of the Year in both 2002 and 2003, as well as the league's freshman of the year in 2002.
"Jeff was a very good goalkeeper who played with a significant amout of passion and emotion," said USC Upstate's current head soccer coach, Greg Hooks. "He played on some of our most successful teams, and was a key contributor to these teams' accomplishments.
"He was also an outstanding assistant coach, and was instrumental in the soccer program's continued success following his playing career. Most importantly, Jeff was and continues to be loyal to the University, the soccer program, and to me. I am very proud of how well he has done since leaving USC Upstate, and know that he is proud to have been a part of our program."
After leaving Upstate, Negalha then spent time as an assistant coach at South Florida before being hired at UNC. He is currently in his fourth year as an assistant coach with the North Carolina men's soccer program. He was recognized by College Soccer News as one of the "20 Top Assistant Coaches of 2006." Among his other accolades, Negalha helped the Carolina goalkeepers combine for a school-record 15 shutouts in 2005. Justin Hughes, the Tar Heels goalie at the time, led the ACC with a .50 goals against average and was eventually selected by the Colorado Rapids in the Major League Soccer SuperDraft.
Today, in addition to his current assistant position in Chapel Hill with the Tar Heels, Negalha serves as the Director of Goalkeeping and staff coach for the Triangle United Soccer Association.
What attracted you to Spartanburg, S.C., from NJCAA national power Massasoit Community (Mass.) College? Were there any noticeable differences in the style of play between the North and the South?
I didn't notice any differences in the style of play, however, the option to play outdoors year round was intriguing.
How would you compare your experiences competing in the national semifinal and quarterfinal appearances at Massasoit Community College with the NCAA quarterfinals and NCAA national championship game at former USC Spartanburg?
Is there anything that you started to realize and view differently as a coach at USC Upstate than what you experienced as a player?
What did you study at the former USC Spartanburg?
Is it more thrilling to see success and post-season appearances as a coach or as a player?
Did you have a soccer hero growing up or do you have one currently?
After the 2006 season at UNC, you were recognized by College Soccer News as one of the "20 Top Assistant Coaches of 2006." What did this honor mean to you and did it make you more confident in your abilities?
In 2004, you attracted the nation's No. 3 class according to College Soccer News and the No. 5 class according to Soccer America. Would you view your recruiting style as more aggressive or more passive? Additionally, are there certain qualities you look for in athletes aside from talent specifically?
What is the most important advice you give to your goalkeepers?
Do you think that being an assistant coach at three different successful soccer programs has expanded your knowledge and understanding of the sport? Do you stay loyal to each team?
Do you plan on being involved with soccer for the long run?
How do you like to spend your time away from the soccer field?
There has always been the debate of the importance of offense and defense. As an instructor for keepers, do you believe a team can benefit on the field more from a stronger offense or a stronger defense?