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Monday, July 30, 2007


Former two-year assistant steps in for retired coach Frantz Innocent

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – Following two seasons as an assistant coach in the program, Greg DeVito has been named the fifth head coach in the 47-year history of men’s soccer program.  The part-time position represents  DeVito's first collegiate head coaching assignment.

DeVito had served the last two years as assistant coach under Frantz Innocent, who coached a program-record 325 matches between 1990 and 2006 before announcing his retirement last spring.

A native of Norwalk, Conn., DeVito had helped coordinate recruiting efforts the last two seasons under Innocent and also handled numerous administrative tasks.

“From a part-time perspective, it will be challenging,” noted DeVito, who expects to be assisted by Eastern alumni Adam Phaiah of Danielson and Phil Stevens of Tolland. Phaiah returns to the staff for the second season while Stevens has served previously as a volunteer goalkeepercoach. “But I feel that Frantz has prepared me for the job by giving me a lot of responsibility. With Frantz, I think we were on the same page with a lot of things. We had a lot of the same ideas, as to how the game should be played.  I feel that I’m ready for this job.”

DeVito has been coaching soccer on a variety of levels since 1993. He came to Eastern after spending six years coaching soccer at E.O. Smith High School in Storrs. For three years between 2002 and 2004, DeVito had served as head girls’ soccer coach, where he compiled a three-year record of 36-9-7 and led the Panthers into the Class “L” quarterfinals twice. For three years prior to that (1999-2001), he assisted John Blomstrann with the powerful E.O. Smith boys, the Panthers winning two conference titles. DeVito's high school coaching resume also includes a two-year stint as head boys' soccer coach at Rockville High School in 1997 and 1998.

“We’ll try and play good team defense, but be a good attacking team as well,” points out DeVito of this year’s team, which opens an 18-game regular-season schedule Sept. 5 by hosting Westfield State College at 4:30 p.m. “The past couple of years, we certainly have created a lot of chances, but haven’t always finished them.”

DeVito welcomes the return of 11 letterwinners from last year's 7-5-6 team which lost only one match (2-1-4) in the Little East Conference but which failed to qualify for the four-team conference playoffs for the fourth time in the last five years.

Since 1997, DeVito has served as head coach of the Manchester Premier U12-U19 boys’ teams, leading a U17 team to the 2005 regional championship and a berth in the ten-team national tournament at Orlando, Fla, where they defeated the No. 10 team in the country. Since 1997, his teams advanced to the Open Cup semifinals eight consecutive times and have won four Open Cup championships and four league championships.

DeVito also served as head coach of the Northeast United Premier U10-U16 boys' teams in Storrs from 2000 through 2007, with his teams reaching the Open Cup quarterfinals three times and winning the division championship in 2004. That year, DeVito's Northeast United team became the first team in the club to qualify for Premier Division 1.

DeVito is currently coaching the West Hartford Premier club, which is one of the top boys' clubs in the state.

“The youth teams that I’ve coached have been known for a good sense of discipline on the field, have been well-organized, and have been known for playing a good style of soccer,” says DeVito. “We try and play the game the way it’s supposed to be played. When a recruit comes to watch a game with their family, they’re going to want to see players on the field that work hard and play a good brand of soccer.”

Last year, seven ‘true’ freshmen earned varsity letters, among them conference Rookie-of-the-Year Maxim Fantl of West Hartford. Among this year’s expected freshmen crop are all-staters Justin Millette of Central Village, Justin Von Edwins of Lebanon and Bobby Zalewski of Coventry. Among the returning letterwinners are senior keeper  Jay Barney of Mansfield, last year’s conference Defensive Player-of-the-Year.

A resident of Willimantic, DeVito holds a USSF National C License. He received his B.A. Degree in Accounting from the University of Connecticut in 1992 and an M. Ed. from Central Connecticut State University in 2002 and has taught Accounting and Personal Finance at E.O. Smith for the past nine years.

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