Shapiro hired as Harvard men’s soccer coach

After leading the men’s soccer team to four NCAA Div. III Championship titles since he came to Tufts in 2010, head coach Josh Shapiro has been hired as the new head coach at Harvard, announced in releases from both Tufts and Harvard on Tuesday morning. Although he will only be moving just a few stops down the Red Line, Shapiro will make a big jump from one of the nation’s top Div. III dynasties to a struggling Div. I program.

At Tufts, Shapiro oversaw the emergence of one of the best Div. III teams in the country in his first career head coaching job. With him at the helm, the team won the national title in 2014, 2016, 2018 and most recently in 2019, in addition to NESCAC Championship titles in 2017 and 2019. The four national championship titles were the only in Tufts men’s soccer history, and Tufts is one of just three schools in the NCAA to have won four or more national championships. Overall, in his 10 seasons with the Jumbos, Shapiro’s teams accumulated a 126–37–28 record, with the 2019 season being his winningest with 20 wins.

Shapiro also received national honor while at Tufts. He and his staff received the United Soccer Coaches Coaching Staff of the Year award following each of the four NCAA title seasons (2014, 2016, 2018 and 2019). Shapiro received the United Soccer Coaches Coach of the Year award twice in 2014 and 2018, and the NESCAC Coach of the Year award three times.

“It’s hard to see him leave after all he’s given to the program — it’s tough to think about Tufts men’s soccer without thinking about coach Shapiro,” senior forward Joe Braun, who has been one of the team’s top players in the past few years, said. “All the guys and all the alumni are super happy for him with everything he’s given to the program. We’re forever grateful, and we’re excited to see what the future holds for him because this is something he’s passionate about and a new challenge. We definitely all respect that and wish him the best of luck over at Harvard.”

Senior defender and co-captain Tanner Jameson expressed a similar mix of emotions regarding the change.

“I’m very happy for him — it’s an incredible opportunity for him,” Jameson said. “I think he’s going to do a fantastic job [at Harvard], but at the same time, it is a little bit heartbreaking. He’s a very important person to the Tufts Athletics community here, and we’re all sad to see him go.”

The Crimson are looking to Shapiro to turn around a program that has endured a string of unsuccessful seasons. This past season, in 2019, the team went 0–14–1, following a 3–13 finish in 2018 and a 2–10–4 finish in 2017. Under former head coach Pieter Lehrer — whose departure was announced in November — the Crimson accumulated a 42–58–13 total record.

But Shapiro brings a track record of improving programs: when he was hired at Tufts in 2010, he took over a program that had not won any conference games and only two games in total the season prior.

According to Braun, there were rumors that Shapiro was considering leaving Tufts during the fall, but that did not impact the team’s performance.

“We didn’t let any rumors impact our season,” Braun said. “After the season, our team was aware of a couple of Div. I job openings that opened up in Boston, Harvard being one of them. Moving from Tufts to Harvard seemed like the perfect fit for him.”

Before his tenure with the Jumbos, Shapiro previously held assistant coaching positions at Georgetown University, American University, George Mason University and Lafayette College. As a player at Middlebury, Shapiro also was a part of three teams that qualified for the NCAA Div. III tournament.

Shapiro stated his gratitude for his time at Tufts as well as his excitement for a new challenge in both Tufts and Harvard press releases. 

According to the release from the Tufts Athletics Department, the search for a new head coach will begin immediately.