Joe Clarke has continued Washington University’s tradition as a soccer power, having led the Bears to a 217-99-43 (.70) record in 19 seasons. Clarke, the head coach at Saint Louis University for 14 years, was named Washington U.’s sixth men’s soccer coach in May 1997 and begins his 20th season with the Bears in 2016.
Clarke has guided the WU men’s soccer team to 19 winning seasons during his tenure on the Danforth Campus, and he has won at least 11 games in 12 of those campaigns. He has mentored five individuals to National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-America honors, as well as five Academic All-Americans during his career at Washington U.
In 2014, with a team featuring only 3 seniors, the Bears posted a 12-4-4 record being eliminated via penalty kicks in the second round of the NCAA tournament. An even younger team in 2013 with 3 seniors and only one junior, this sophomore and freshmen laden team finished 9-7-2 building vital experience for coming campaigns.
In 2012, Clarke led a young team, who endured injuries to several key players along the way, to a 10-5-2 record and a share of the University Athletic Association (UAA) title for the second year in a row. The Bears also made their third straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Bears’ 2013 squad finished 10-4-3 overall, marking the fourth straight 10+ win season. Clarke became the 17th active coach in NCAA men’s soccer to reach 400 career wins with Washington U.’s 3-0 win at Principia Oct. 24, 2013.
In 2011, the Bears posted a 15-4-1 record, securing the program’s ninth straight winning season and the second-most single-season wins under Clarke’s guidance. The Bears also advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row, falling 1-0 to eventual national champion Ohio Wesleyan University.
In 2010, Washington U. started the year with a 10-0-2 record, marking the program’s best start to a season since 1979. Clarke earned 2010 NSCAA Central Region Coach of the Year accolades for the first time in his career.
In 2007, the Bears won 16 matches and advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinal for the first time since 1995. The 16 victories are the most under Clarke and the squad’s highest win total since that 1995 season. In addition to piloting the Bears to their most successful season in 12 years, Clarke was inducted into the St. Louis Soccer Hall of Fame Sept. 13, 2007.
Washington U. qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 2006 for the 17th time in school history, but the first since 1999. WU finished the season with a 12-4-2 overall record; the Red and Green rallied from an 0-2 start in conference play to finish 4-2-1 for second place in the UAA.
Clarke wasted little time building on Washington U.’s storied soccer tradition. He quickly fused his 1997 team into a formidable unit that advanced to the NCAA regional final – falling to eventual national champion Wheaton College. The Bears finished his first year with a 14-6 ledger.
In 1998, Clarke guided Washington U. back to the NCAA Tournament with an 11-7-2 record. In 1999, the Bears captured their first UAA crown under Clarke and advanced to the regional semifinal of the NCAA Tournament. In 2000, Clarke led the Bears to an 11-7 record and a third-place finish in the UAA, and in 2001, Clarke guided the Bears to an 11-4-2 overall record.
Over the course of his 31-year career, Clarke has led his teams to 10-plus wins 27 times. Since he came to the Danforth Campus, the Bears have made eight NCAA Tournament appearances.
During his 14-year tenure (1983-96) with the Billikens, Clarke produced a 205-74-30 record for a .712 winning percentage. Only two of his 14 clubs failed to make the NCAA Tournament. His 1991 squad finished 20-2-2 and made the NCAA Final Four, losing to eventual champion Virginia. It was the Billikens’ first appearance in the national semifinals since 1974, when Clarke was a junior on the Billiken soccer team.
Clarke coached several All-Americans at Saint Louis, including 1995 Missouri Athletic Club National Player of the Year, Matt McKeon. He was named either a conference or region coach of the year three times with the Billikens. In his last six years with the Billikens, Clarke guided SLU to four league championships, including three in the Great Midwest Conference and one in Conference-USA.
Born and raised in St. Louis, Clarke grew up playing in the youth soccer leagues of St. Louis. He graduated to the playing fields of McBride and Normandy High Schools before enrolling at Saint Louis University in 1972, where he graduated with a degree in marketing in 1976.
With the Billikens, Clarke helped Saint Louis U. capture NCAA national championships in 1972 and 1973. A defender, he earned All-America honors in 1975.
Clarke’s playing and academic careers were far from over after his collegiate days at Saint Louis. He went on to play for the St. Louis Stars and California Surf of the now-defunct NASL. Clarke earned his law degree at Pepperdine University while with the Surf.
A seven-year professional career came full circle when Clarke returned home to play for the St. Louis Steamers. Following his final pro season with the Steamers in 1982, Clarke was given the opportunity to coach at his alma mater following the retirement of hall-of-famer Harry Keough after the 1982 season.