Matt Crawford tapped to lead West Fargo boys soccer program
Crawford takes over for former head coach Andy Foss, who stepped down in February after leading the Packers to the state championship last fall
WEST FARGO — The West Fargo boys soccer team has its next head coach.
Matt Crawford has been tapped to lead the program this fall. Crawford was an assistant with the Packers for the last two seasons, which included a state championship season in 2022.
Crawford takes over for former head coach Andy Foss, who stepped down in February after two seasons at the helm.
The Packers are coming off of a 13-5-2 season in which they won a dramatic state title in double overtime against top-seeded and unbeaten Fargo Davies. It was West Fargo's fifth championship in program history.
"Being a part of that team last year as an assistant, knowing the guys and understanding some of the standards and knowing a lot of the history of the team ... the standard is set so high," Crawford said. "The guys in this program, the players, and the leadership team have been incredible in the past."
Crawford is a Fargo native and a Fargo South graduate. He played for the Bruins as a goalkeeper, winning the state championship during his senior year in 2009. South was 18-1-3 during that campaign and was also riding its fourth straight Eastern Dakota Conference title.
Crawford went on to play three seasons of collegiate soccer at Bismarck State College and North Dakota State.
A state champion both as a player with South and an assistant with West Fargo, Crawford knows what it takes to win, even with the young Packers team he'll be inheriting this season.
"Even with the state title last year, we had a young team and we relied on a lot of young guys to step up and find their role," Crawford said. "So I think going forward, it's going to be nice to see some of these guys that were younger last year step up and take new roles where they're relied upon a little bit more.
"It'll be interesting to see how it goes, but I think the guys who were a part of it last year are more than capable and ready to take that leap."
Currently, Crawford serves as a physical education teacher with Moorhead Area Public Schools. He also has collegiate and youth coaching experience, and has served as an assistant at the high school level for 11 years.
“Talking with Matt, it was clear he was the right person for this job," said West Fargo activities coordinator Justin Behm. "You can see the overwhelming pride and passion that Matt has for Packer soccer, and it is exciting to hear his vision for the future. Coach Crawford has a great ability to lead and build positive relationships with student-athletes.”
Crawford said Foss has been a big influence in his coaching career, dating back to the days Foss coached Crawford at Bismarck State.
"The last two years with Coach Foss have been special," Crawford said. "Coaching around the area for quite some time, I've been able to see some quality coaches with some really special groups. But I think learning from coach Foss how to drive that standard, really push the players and push them towards what they want to accomplish and pushing them towards their goals.
"He was so good at holding that high standard but making sure that he wasn't demanding it from (players), but finding ways for players to motivate themselves. I think that was a very special thing to learn from him."
Crawford was one of the first to know of Foss' resignation, and immediately received his blessing to take the reins.
"We had discussions throughout the year of what it could look like and I've always had the dream or desire to be a head coach," Crawford said. "When we were coaching together last fall, we acted very much like co-coaches. We did a lot of things together and so when he made the decision to step down, it was a discussion with my wife as we're growing our family ourselves.
"My wife has been one of my best supporters and one of my best cheerleaders to support me and push me towards my goals. As soon as (the job) opened up, it wasn't too long after that I put my name in."
Crawford said he is excited to help a young squad find success both on and off the pitch.
"Just going off of this last year, one of the parts I'm so excited to get started with these guys is the sense that it's such a young group," Crawford said. "Working with a young group of leadership and helping these student-athletes become really interactive within their community and their high school. And I believe that the greatness of this program will continue just because of the work ethic of all of these student-athletes."