Former Cobbers, Fargo South coach Weiler leads Johns Hopkins to D-III national soccer title
Former Concordia College men's and women's soccer coach Dan Weiler guided Johns Hopkins to NCAA Division III women's soccer national title.
SALEM, Va. — Fargo South graduate Dan Weiler started his college coaching journey at Concordia College more than 20 years ago, and his path led to a national championship Sunday afternoon.
Weiler guided Johns Hopkins (Md.) University to a 2-1 victory against Case Western (Ohio) Reserve University for the NCAA Division III women’s soccer championship at Donald J. Kerr Stadium.
“A pretty good day,” said Weiler, a former head coach and assistant in both the men’s and women’s Concordia soccer programs. “It feels amazing. The team was talented enough and committed enough to do this. You need a little luck here and there, but more than anything, you need a lot of grit. We had quite a bit of that.”
Johns Hopkins (23-0-2) didn’t lose a match this season as Weiler won his first national championship as a head coach and it was also the first national crown in the program's history.
“It’s been a goal of mine professionally for a while," said Weiler, who also once coached Fargo South girls soccer and played at Fargo South and at Minnesota State University Moorhead.
The journey started at Concordia in 2000 when former Cobbers men’s and women’s soccer head coach Jim Cella — who is now Concordia’s sports information director — hired Weiler as an assistant coach. Weiler eventually became the head coach for the Cobbers men’s and women’s programs.
Weiler was grateful Cella gave him the opportunity at his first college coaching position.
“He gave me my first job and that’s half the battle sometimes is getting an opportunity,” Weiler said. “That’s where it all really started.”
Cella watched Sunday’s championship match on a video stream and added he was teary-eyed after Weiler’s team won the championship.
“To be there at the start and see how he was going and to see him take off, I’m very happy for him,” Cella said. “He stayed the course and made it happen. … I got to see him through the whole journey.”
Cella said he watched all of Johns Hopkins’ matches in the NCAA playoffs and its conference tournament. He also monitored Weiler’s team sporadically during the regular season when it didn’t conflict with Concordia sporting events.
“He had the drive. He’s very driven, very competitive,” Cella said. “Also, he had the ability to be genuinely interested in the player’s well being. With Dan, it was always about the players.”
Cella said he watched the moments after Sunday’s championship match ended when the camera panned to Weiler, who was running with his arms up to celebrate the accomplishment.
“That is so not Dan, but you could see the emotion of everything that he’s put into it all these years and it just came out in one burst.” Cella said. “It was perfect.”
Weiler said he had almost 10 family members at the championship match, including his wife Kilee and his daughters, Fyrn, who is 6 years old, and Noella, 5. Weiler's mother and two brothers also made the trip to Salem, Va.
“The most important thing is my wife, my kids and my family, I wouldn’t be able to do it without them,” said Weiler, who graduated from MSUM in 1996. “I’m blessed to win this thing and share this with my family and our supporters and our alumni, which is pretty awesome. … We had a huge supporting group. It was really special.”
Johns Hopkins took a 2-1 lead after sophomore forward Katie Sullivan scored at 49 minutes, 24 seconds into the match. The Blue Jays missed multiple opportunities to build a two-goal lead late in the second half, but the one-goal advantage held up.
“It was very tense toward the end and ultimately when the (final) whistle blew it was pure jubilation,” Weiler said.
Weiler said he had more than 130 unread text messages on his phone as of early Sunday evening as the team headed back to Baltimore. Weiler coached at Concordia from 2000-2013. He was the women’s head coach from 2002-2013 and the men's head coach from 2007-2012. He then was the head women’s coach at Christopher Newport (Va.) University from 2013-2020 before taking over at Johns Hopkins in 2020.
That previous experience helped give Weiler a gratifying perspective during this national championship season.
“It’s really hard to get it all right and you can even get it right and not win it, so appreciate the journey,” Weiler said. “I haven’t always done that in the past. It’s about enjoying the ride while it’s happening.”