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Nation's winningest HS coaches set to clash

Article Written by Sheldon Shealer
Published: September 30, 2015

Miller Bugliari and Terry Michler have a combined 100 years of high school boys soccer coaching experience and a staggering 1,730 wins.

They are proud alums at the schools where they coach, and they guide programs that often are ranked among the nation's best. They've coached scores of players who have gone on to successful college and professional careers. And, Bugliari and Michler speak of each other in almost reverent terms. 

But amazingly, Bugliari of Pingry School (Martinsville, N.J.) and Michler of Christian Brothers College (St. Louis, Mo.) have never met.

Not on the field.

Not at an NSCAA Convention.

Not even over the phone.

That's about to change Thursday when Pingry travels to the Gateway City Soccer Classic in St. Louis to take on Christian Brothers in a first-of-its-kind contest. Michler, with 910 wins in 44 seasons at CBC, is the nation's all-time winningest high school coach. Bugliari, with 820 victories in 56 seasons at Pingry, ranks second in wins and first in longest tenure.

The CBC-Pingry macth will kick off at 6:45 p.m. local time in St. Louis, and the contest will be streamed live. The pre-game will start about five minutes before the scheduled kickoff and the contest can be viewed here.

"It's amazing we have never met," Bugliari said just hours after Pingry ran its record to 6-1 with a win over Franklin (Somerset, N.J.). 

"You get to know these (other coaches) through media, and now you get the chance to meet them in person, it's neat," said Michler, whose team is riding an eight-match win streak in a 14-3 season. "I'm really looking forward to it. I have a lot of respect for Miller, for what he's done, for how long he's done it and how he's done it. It will be a big moment."

Gateway City Soccer Classic organizer Eric Stratman has been the brainchild behind this and other such monumental high school clashes, with all the recent ones played out in the St. Louis area and part of the Gateway event. Other notable contests include the 2011 clash between DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) and Jesuit (Carmichael, Calif.), which were both riding lengthy undefeated streaks; the 2007 showdown between perennial national power St. Benedict's Prep (Newark, N.J.) and Will Bruin-led [DeSmet Jesuit mo-m] (St. Louis, Mo.); and a meeting between South Kent School (South Kent, Conn.) and St. Ignatius (Cleveland, Ohio) last year.

"This is good for high school soccer," Bugliari said. "It should get some press."

Bugliari, a 1952 Pingry grad, spent time Tuesday reflecting on how much high school soccer has changed since he took over the Pingry program in 1960. "I have a picture of that first team, and I think we went 7-3-1 or 7-2-1, something like that. Now we're playing 20 games," he said with a laugh. "There was nobody keeping track of wins when I started. ... I was only concerned with the number of losses."

Bugliari said it's working with the students that has kept him motivated during his 56-year tenure.

"I played the game, I like the game and I like working with the kids," Bugliari said. "I don't want to stay in too long, but it's still fun."

Michler, a 1965 CBC graduate, inherited an already established and well-known CBC program in 1972. The previous coach, Bob Horgan, coached several players who played key roles in the St. Louis University college dynasty of the late 1960s through mid-1970s. 

Horgan coached high school soccer for 11 years after leaving CBC, and when he retired after the 1982 season, his 571 wins were the national standard. Thoughts of coaches with 700, 800, even 900 wins, seemed unreasonable. Michler is the only coach to have surpassed 900 high school boys soccer wins. Michler and Bugliari are the only two who have ever topped 800 wins. Four others have gone over the 700-win mark, but only one remains active -- Paul Rose of Jesuit.  

"I wanted to continue the tradition of the school," Michler said of CBC. "All I ever wanted to do when I left here (as a student) was to come back and have this job. For me, this is the only job I've ever wanted."

All-Time Top 10 Winningest High School Boys Soccer Coaches

*This list is compiled and maintained by Sheldon Shealer and reflects matches played through Tuesday: 

910 — Terry Michler, Christian Brothers College (St. Louis, Mo.), 1972-2015 (active) [910-243-106]

820 — Miller Bugliari, Pingry School (Martinsville, N.J.), 1960-2015 (active) [820-103-68]

776 — Greg Vitello, DeSmet Jesuit (St. Louis, Mo.), 1969-2014 [776-306-137]

757 — Gene Chyzowych, Columbia (Maplewood, N.J.), 1964-2013 [757-217-74]

748 — Vince Drake, Trinity Catholic (St. Louis, Mo.); St. Thomas (Florissant, Mo.), 1968-2014 [748-337-134]

741 — Paul Rose, Jesuit (Carmichael, Calif.), 1979-2014 (active) [741-101-104]

696 — Don Brock, Needham (Needham, Mass.), 1961, 1967-2014 [696-180-127]

681 — Tom Breznitsky, Scotch Plains-Fanwood (Scotch Plains, N.J.), 1975-2015 (active) [681-161-57]

676 — Phil Savitz, River Bluff (S.C., 2014-2015, 42-7); Irmo (Columbia, S.C., 1981-2013, 634-82-5), 1981-2015 (active) [676-87-6]

665 — Brian Gibney, Shawnee (Medford, N.J.), 1974-2011 [665-138-58]

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