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Assistant Coaches

Assistant Coach Jessica Nei

Jessica Nei is entering her fourth season as an assistant coach for the University of Toledo women’s soccer program in 2018.

“Jessica is one of the brightest, young coaches out there and we’re very fortunate to have her on our staff,” said Toledo head coach TJ Buchholz. “The success of our recruiting is in large part because of the work that she has put in to build the program.”

Nei focuses on the goalkeepers and defenders at Toledo and her defensive group has registered 15 shutouts in her time with the Rockets. In 2017, Nei mentored redshirt freshman goal keeper Madison Perrin to Mid-American Conference All-Freshman honors in her first year of action.

Additionally, senior defender Chiara Paradiso was selected second-team All-MAC and senior Regan Price was named to the all-tournament team after the Rockets clinched their league-best fifth conference championship. She previously mentored Sam Tiongson, who earned MAC Defensive Player of the Week honors on Sept. 21 after blanking Northern Kentucky in 2015.

Nei joined Toledo after serving as an assistant coach at Arkansas State from 2011-14. She helped the Red Wolves to their first winning season in school history in 2012.

While at ASU, Nei helped the RedWolves achieve some of the best goalkeeping in the Sun Belt Conference. The Arkansas State netminders ranked third in the league with 112 saves in 2013, and had a 1.38 goalsagainst average in 2012, the second-lowest average in school history.

Individually, Nei helped mold Aja Aguirre into one of the most successful goalkeepers in Arkansas State history. Aguirre set the record for the lowest GAA (1.19) in 2012.

In 2013, Nei coached Amanda Lee to the third-most saves in school history with 92, and the third-lowest goalsagainst average at 1.34. Her 8.07 saves per match average is tied for the most in school history. Before joining the Red Wolves, Nei spent three years at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minn. During her three seasons with St. Cloud, she helped the Huskies to a 28-21-8 record, including two 10-win seasons and the first winning record in school history.

Along with serving as an assistant at St. Cloud, Nei was an Olympic Development Program coach, instructing the ‘97-99 boys team and goalkeepers. She was also a coach at Becker Youth soccer, working with U10 boys, U14 and U17 girls.

Nei also worked with the Red River Soccer Club, coaching U-10 boys, as a goalkeeper coach for U-10 girls and as the head coach for the Central Minnesota Youth Soccer Association in St. Cloud.

As a player, Nei was a goalkeeper for North Dakota State University (2003-07) and helped the Bison amass a 46-22-5 overall record.

Nei earned a bachelor’s degree with a double major in physical education and health education from NDSU in 2008 and received her master’s in recreation and leisure administration from UT in 2016.


Associate Head Coach Paul Smith

Paul Smith enters his fourth season as an assistant coach for the Toledo women's soccer program in 2018.

During his three-year tenure, he has helped build the Rockets into a championship squad. This past season, Toledo captured its first Mid-American Conference championship since 2011. UT posted a 12-8-3 overall record and a 6-3-2 league mark en route to its league-best fifth NCAA Championship appearance.

At Toledo, Smith helped mentor midfielder Isa Echeverri, who finished her career as one of the more decorated players to come through the program. Echeverri garnered two first-team all-conference selections and two all-region honors under the tutelage of Smith.

Smith has also played a pivotal part in the academic success of the Rockets. The Rockets landed a conference-high 13 student-athletes on the Academic All-MAC team in 2017, had a athletic department-high 3.679 team GPA in the fall of 2016 and set a school-record with 14 making academic all-conference in 2015.

Smith re-joined head coach TJ Buchholz upon arriving to Toledo as the two worked together for three years for the men’s soccer program at NAIA member Northwestern College in Orange City, IA from 2006-08.

Prior to Toledo, Smith spent nine seasons at Northwestern College (2006-14), where the Red Raiders accumulated an 86-75-12 record. Smith helped lead the team to a 2007 regional championship and a National Tournament appearance, and more recently the Red Raiders have experienced four-consecutive 10-win seasons, a first in the program’s history.

Smith played a major role in planning and implementing training, recruiting, scouting and developing strategy and implementing strategy for opponents during his time at Northwestern College. He had the opportunity to work with six All-Americans, 17 NAIA Scholar-Athletes and 30 all-conference recipients over the course of nine years.

Smith earned a bachelor’s degree with a double major in computer science and business administration from Northwestern College in 1998. He also earned a master’s degree in computer information systems from the University of Phoenix in 2003.

He and his wife Jennie, who also graduated from Northwestern College, have three children, Mullin, Annika and Amira.