With two seasons at the University of Oregon under her belt, Kat Mertz has the women’s soccer program on a steady, ascending climb up the Pac-12 ranks. Under her leadership, the Ducks finished the 2014 season at No. 74 in the final NCAA RPI – giving UO their highest RPI finish since 2009.
Mertz’ direction in the 2014 season molded Oregon into one of the best defensive teams in the Pac-12. With a 1.04 goals against average, the Ducks finished the season with the third-lowest average – best average since the 2006 season – in school history.
This past season also saw her and the Ducks defeat Washington for the first time since 2006 (1-0, Sep. 25 at Pape Field). In addition to toppling their rivals, the Ducks were able spread the scoring wealth throughout the season, as 12 different players scored goals.
A former four-year starting goalkeeper at North Carolina State, Mertz helped Duck goalkeeper Abby Steele finish her Oregon career first in goals allowed average (1.15) and shutouts (17), and third in goalkeeper wins (21) and saves (307).
Steele, along with fellow graduating senior forward Bri Pugh were both named honorable mention All-Pac-12 and center back Caitlyn Wong was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman team. The three conference honors were the most in one season for the Ducks since 2006.
It was the same story in the classroom for the Green and Yellow under Mertz. Wong and senior midfielder Lilly Archer excelled and earned Pac-12 All-Academic first-team honors – giving the Ducks two members on the first team for the first time since 2008 – and six other athletes were Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention selections. Mertz’ two years at the helm also saw UO earn the NSCAA Team Academic Award (team grade point average of 3.0 or higher) in both 2013 and 2014.
In her first season at the helm in 2013, Mertz and Oregon secured one of the most notable wins in program history, upsetting No. 12 California 1-0, providing the highlight of the season. It was the second-highest ranked opponent UO defeated in program history.
Mertz was named head coach at Oregon on Dec. 21, 2012 after spending the 2012 season as head coach at Saint Louis University. Mertz is the third coach in UO history since the program returned to the varsity level in 1996.
Mertz brings extensive experience at the collegiate and national ranks. Mertz has made nine NCAA Tournament appearances in five collegiate coaching stints covering 15 seasons. She has also served on the United States Women’s National Youth Team coaching staffs – where she helped guide the U-20 squad to the 2008 FIFA World Cup title – and for Olympic Development Programs.
Prior to taking over at Saint Louis where she led the Billikens to a 5-9-4 record, Mertz served as an assistant coach at Texas and helped guide the Longhorns to the NCAA Tournament in 2010 and 2011. Texas placed nine student-athletes on the All-Big 12 squad and 19 on the Academic All-Conference team during her tenure.
She was also a head coach at UNLV where she spent five seasons from 2005-09. Mertz compiled a 49-39-19 record and led the Rebels to a pair of NCAA Tournament berths, winning back-to-back Mountain West Conference Tournament titles in 2005 and 2006 en route to the postseason. She was named Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year after leading the Rebels to the MWC regular-season crown in 2007.
Mertz coached 17 All-Conference performers at UNLV, including an MWC co-Offensive Player of the Year, and three All-Region honorees. During her five seasons, the Rebels produced 60 Academic All-Conference selections, three College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District choices and one CoSIDA Academic All-American.
Already familiar with the Pac-12, Mertz was the lead assistant coach at UCLA for five years (2000-04) under the current head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Team, Jill Ellis. The Bruins reached the NCAA Tournament round of 16 in each of those seasons and advanced to the NCAA College Cup in 2000, 2003 and 2004. UCLA won three Pac-10 championships and produced numerous All-Americans, Pac-10 Players of the Year and Academic All-Americans during Mertz's time with the program.
Mertz started her collegiate coaching career at Virginia where she was an assistant coach for the 1999 season.
A member of the U.S. Women's National Team's U-20 and U-18 coaching staff since 2007, Mertz helped lead the U-20 squad to the 2008 FIFA World Cup title. She was an assistant coach for the U.S. Women's National Team's U-15 team in its inaugural season in 2004, and last year she became a national scout for the Youth National Team programs.
Mertz served as head coach of the Olympic Development Program Region IV '94 age group team and was the ODP Region IV assistant director of goalkeeping from 2004 to 2010.
Mertz was a four-year starting goalkeeper (1994-97) at North Carolina State, where she helped the Wolfpack qualify for three NCAA Tournaments and reach the 1995 national quarterfinals. A starter in 88 of a possible 90 matches, she owns school records for saves in a career (436) and season (135, 1994) and ranks third in career shutouts (24).
Following her collegiate career, Mertz played two seasons for the Raleigh Wings, a W-1 (top tier) team in the United Soccer Leagues W-League. The Wings were league champions both years.
Mertz earned a bachelor's degree in natural resources, ecosystem assessment, at North Carolina State in 1998. She holds a United States Soccer Federation "A" national coaching license and a National Soccer Coaches Association of America Advanced National Diploma.
"Kat Mertz won the prestigious University of Oregon’s - Women’s Soccer Head Coach position from a list of fantastic candidates and that is testament to her abilities and how highly she is regarded as a coach. I have witnessed her coaching abilities first hand when she served as one of my assistant coaches when the USA won the 2008 U20 FIFA World Cup. She has the ability to make players better and is one of the best young coaches in America. Her experiences coaching in the Pac-12 will serve her well. I wish her and the University a long and rewarding relationship." - Tony DiCicco, former U.S. Women's National Team Head Coach; Founder, SoccerPlus Camps