One of the most distinguished coaches in Western New York history, John Astudillo has announced he will retire after 22 years as head coach of the University at Buffalo men's soccer team. Astudillo, Buffalo’s all-time wins leader, will be retiring as the architect of one of UB’s most consistent and successful teams.
“It has been my distinct privilege to work for such a great institution like the University at Buffalo,” Astudillo said. “I am very thankful for the opportunity to work with so many talented players, coaches and colleagues. There are not too many people that get the opportunity that UB has granted me.”
Since joining the Bulls in 1989, Astudillo, who grew up in Ecuador, has compiled a 190-173-35 record. On September 9, 2001, following a 4-0 victory over Siena, Astudillo passed Sal Esposito to become the all-time leader in career victories.
In his 13 years in the highly competitive Mid-American Conference, Astudillo has coached UB’s first-ever MAC Player of the Year in any sport, 12 first-team all-conference players and 15 second-team all-conference players.
“I was brought to UB to help the program travel from Division III to Division I. We all knew that the road was going to be difficult and challenging. We never thought that it would be filled with such competitive joy,” Astudillo said. “Training improved every year, traveling became further, schedules became more challenging, but the fun that our players experienced was truly unexpected. My hat is off to the great local talents such as Steve Butcher, Bobby Shuttleworth and so many others that proved that Western New York does have top talent at the national level.”
The growth for UB soccer began as soon as Astudillo was named the UB head coach in 1989 and the Bulls were competing at the Division II level. Astudillo was named the New York State Region III Coach of the Year after guiding the Bulls to a 9-9 record in his first season. He proceeded to guide the Bulls to a school-record 14 wins in 1990 and a national ranking as high as ninth. Astudillo was recognized by his peers by receiving the 1990 New York State Coach of the Year award after the Bulls finished with a 14-3-1 record.
In 1991, UB made the jump to the Division I level. In the first year playing at the NCAA’s highest level, the Bulls again recorded double-digit wins, finishing with a 10-7-2 record, earning Astudillo the 1991 East Coast Conference Coach of the Year award.
UB began its affiliation with the Mid-Continent Conference in 1994 as Astudillo guided the Bulls to an 11-7-1 overall record, and captured the Mid-Continent East Division crown with a 5-0-1 conference mark. Astudillo was recognized for his squad’s outstanding season by receiving both UB’s Coach of the Year award and the Mid-Con’s Coach of the Year award.
In the Bulls’ first year competing in the MAC, 1998, UB finished with a 13-8-0 record under Astudillo. As the sixth seed in the MAC Tournament, Astudillo’s team made some noise, defeating third-seeded Northern Illinois, 1-0, in overtime in the first round. In the second round of the tournament, the Bulls took regular-season champion and nationally-ranked Akron into three overtimes before falling, 3-2.
In 2005, UB enjoyed the best season in the program’s 33-year history by going 14-3-2, including being the first team in Division-I soccer to win 10 games, going 10-1-0 in its first 11 games.
As a result of their early success, the Bulls received their first Division-I national ranking in school history, being named 20th according to the NSCAA/Adidas rankings. As a third-seed in the MAC Tournament, the Bulls handed loses to both sixth-seeded IPFW and second-seeded Northern Illinois before taking top-seeded and nationally third-ranked Akron into double overtime, falling 7-6 in a final shootout.
The 2008 team’s season had numerous highlights, including a 12-4-4 overall record and a flawless 7-0-1 record at UB Stadium. The team was ranked 10th in the Great Lakes Regional poll and goalie Bobby Shuttleworth parlayed his great season with the team to earn a spot on the New England Revolution for Major League Soccer. Another member of the team, Martin John, signed with English squad Cardiff City.
“Coach Astudillo is the cornerstone of a program that consistently competes for MAC championships. His 22 years of service to UB and the Division of Athletics created an environment where student-athletes could excel academically and athletically to further our mission,” Interim Director of Athletics John Lambert said. “His impact in the local soccer community and nationally has elevated both the sport of men’s soccer and our university. I wish John the best as he begins this new chapter and thank him for his outstanding service to UB.”
A graduate of Buffalo State College with a master’s degree in education, Astudillo played at the college level for coach Fred Hartrick before going on to play semi-pro for the Fort Erie Stokers of the Ontario Provincial League. A holder of an NSCAA Advanced National Coaching Diploma, Astudillo began his coaching career in 1978 by building Williamsville North into one of the premier high school soccer programs in the area.
The recipient of two High School Coach of the Year awards, Astudillo coached the Williamsville North boy’s team to five divisional championships, four sectional titles, and a mark of 82-14-4 during his last five years. Additionally, he led Williamsville North on three occasions to the quarterfinals of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Tournament.
Astudillo has also demonstrated success as coach of the Empire State Games Western Scholastic team, winning two gold, four silver, and three bronze medals.
A successful coach on all levels, Astudillo has led teams to postseason tournaments at various levels, while also coaching regional, national, and professional players throughout his illustrious coaching career.
“Talents from New York State and neighboring states helped UB develop into a serious contender,” Astudillo said. “So many international players made this job so rewarding. Without their effort and dedication, success would have never been achieved. I will remain thankful to all those talented players that made my job so enjoyable. I can't say enough about the talented administrators and staff that got us to where we are today. I look forward to following the team's progress and exciting future under Coach Hesch - one of the more talented coaches I know.”
Associate Head Coach Dave Hesch will take over head coaching duties on an interim basis for the 2012 season. A national search for a head coach will follow.