One of the most successful coaches in the nation, Ali Omar has transformed Winona State soccer program into a powerhouse that has set the standard for all other teams in the NSIC to follow. Omar has completed 21 seasons as the Winona State’s head coach. In 21 seasons at the helm of the Warrior program, Coach Omar has led the team to 11 NSIC Championships and six NSIC Tournament titles. His Warriors won eight consecutive conference crowns (2004-2011) and have been named champions in ten of the last 15 years.
Omar is eighth on the NCAA Division II all-time victory charts with 304 wins. He is ninth all-time in winning percentage, earning victories at a .734 clip and is the winningest coach in the history of the NSIC.
Omar has been the Winona State head coach since 1995, the first year of competition for the Warrior soccer program. After winning just one game during the inaugural campaign, the Warriors have been a standard for success. The team has not finished under .500 since and has lost three or fewer games eight times. Omar has been named NSIC Coach of the Year four times (2004, 2006, 2008, 2011) for his performance from the sidelines.
Winona State has been truly dominant in NSIC play, posting a 177-23-10 (.867) mark in league games. WSU has had six undefeated conference seasons and another nine years with just one loss.
Warrior players have consistently earned individual recognition under Omar. Nine WSU student-athletes have won the NSIC Player of the Year award, including a string of eight consecutive from 2002-09. Four Warriors have been NSIC Defensive Player of the Year and Omar has tutored two conference Newcomers of the Year.
Omar has recruited some of the best soccer talent in the country and Warriors have the accolades to prove it. Twelve Warriors have been named All-Americans while Omar has tutored 55 All-Region and 111 All-NSIC honorees.
WSU returned to NCAA postseason play in 2013 after a two year absence, advancing to the second round of the NCAA Central Region Tournament. The Warriors were 15-4-3 overall on the season, including a thrilling shootout win over Southwest Baptist in the NCAA Tournament. Senior Rebecca McCoy ended her stellar career by earning All-American honors for both her play on the field and performance in the classroom. She was also named the NSIC’s Defensive Player of the Year, leading a squad that allowed just 14 goals on the year.
They made it back to the NCAA Tournament in 2014 and 2015. The Warriors won the first game of the NCAA Regional against Southwest Baptist with a 4-2 shootout victory.
The Warriors posted a 16-5 overall mark in 2012, adding a 13-2 record in NSIC play. The Warriors advanced to the championship game of the NSIC Tournament before falling to Minot State. Five Warriors were All-Conference picks while three earned All-Region honors.
Winona State won its eighth consecutive conference title in 2011 after posting a 12-1 league record, with Omar earning his fourth NSIC Coach of the Year honor. Anna Belpedio was named an All-American for the second straight season after allowing just 11 goals in 19 games. The team also tied defending national champion and No. 1 team Grand Valley State, 1-1, the its season-opener.
For all the success Omar has achieved at Winona State, the 2010 season may have been his best. Winona Sate posted a 17-4-2 overall record, winning both the NSIC Regular Season and Tournament titles. The Warriors also advanced to the NCAA Regional Tournament for the fourth time. Once there WSU made history, beating Regis (CO) to advance to the NCAA Super Regional for the first time. Goalkeeper Anna Belpedio earned First Team All-American honors while also being named NSIC Defensive Player of the Year. Freshman Jennifer Deroo was tabbed as the NSIC’s Newcomer of the Year while seven Warriors were all-conference selections.
The Warriors posted a 17-5 mark and won the NSIC Regular Season title during 2009. Lauren Sturdivant was named NSIC Player of the Year and was a Second Team All-American after scoring 18 goals and handing out 11 assists. Omar won his 200th career game during the season, a 2-0 victory over Minnesota Duluth on Oct. 2.
Omar and the Warriors set many marks during the 2008 season. The Warriors rose as high as third in the national rankings while earning a school record 16 consecutive victories. An outstanding defensive squad, Winona State held opponents scoreless for 1,093 consecutive minutes during the year on its way to another conference title. The team finished 19-3-1 and advanced to the NCAA Regional Tournament for the second consecutive season.
For his efforts Omar was named the NSIC Coach of the Year for the third time in 2008. He was also honored by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America with the NSCAA/Adidas Central Region Coach of the Year award. He tutored both the NSIC Player of the Year (Amelia Kasten) and Defensive Player of the Year (Heidi Woerle) during the campaign as well.
WSU posted a 16-3-2 overall record in 2007 and an 8-1 mark in league play to claim the NSIC Championship. The mark allowed the Warriors to advance to the NCAA Tournament for the second time. WSU finished the season ranked 17th nationally thanks in large part to the top-ranked defense in the nation. The Warriors allowed just seven goals on the year and their save percentage of .918 was the second-best mark in NCAA Division II history. The team’s goals against average of .323 was the eighth-best mark in history as well. Individually, Holly Sutton was named NSIC Offensive Player of the Year.
The 2006 season brought another NSIC Championship, the third consecutive title and sixth overall won by Winona State. WSU finished the year 14-5-2 overall and 8-0-1 in the NSIC. Omar was named conference Coach of the Year for the second team while tutoring the league’s Offensive Player of the Year (Sutton) and Newcomer of the Year (Kasten).
Winona State repeated as NSIC Champions in 2005, posting a mark of 19-1-3 overall and going 12-0-2 in the NSIC. The team also repeated as NSIC Tournament Champions. Kayla Walters was named NSIC Offensive Player of the Year, the fifth consecutive season a Warrior had won the award.
Omar and the Warriors started their current run of seven consecutive NSIC Championships in 2004, going 15-3-2 overall and 6-1 in conference games. The team also claimed the NSIC Tournament crown, the fourth time in six seasons that Winona State had won both the regular season and tournament titles. Omar claimed the NSIC Coach of the Year award for the first time in his WSU tenure while also tutoring Amy Budish who won the NSIC Player of the Year award.
Omar claimed his 100th coaching win during the 2003 season, a 3-2 victory over Minnesota State. Kristin Ruhsam became the second consecutive Warrior to win the NSIC Player of the Year award.
Winona State won both the NSIC Regular Season and Tournament titles in 2002 after going 7-1-1 in league play and 12-5-4 overall. Budish earned NSIC Newcomer of the Year while Beth Bell claimed NSIC Defensive Player of the Year.
The Warriors made history in 2001, qualifying for the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. Winona State moved through the NSIC slate with an undefeated 9-0 mark and posted an 18-5-0 overall record.
Winona State won both the NSIC Regular Season and Tournament Championships in 1999 and 2000. Warriors claimed both the NSIC Player of the Year (Elizabeth Narten) and Newcomer of the Year (Stacey Jacobs) in the 2000 season as well. In 1999 Minnelle LaPolice became the first Warrior to earn an NSIC individual award, claiming NSIC Newcomer of the Year honors.
In addition to athletic awards, the Warriors have also been recognized for their hard work in the classroom. As a team the Warriors have been recognized by the NSCAA for academic performance multiple times. The soccer program has earned two NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships (Kathryn Kramer, 2005 and Kallie Tellefsen, 2007). Two Warriors (Kramer, 2005 and Tellefsen, 2008) were also awarded the Willis R. Kelly Scholar-Athlete Award which is given to the NSIC’s top female student-athlete. In total the Warriors have had seven Academic All-Americans in addition to 143 NSIC All-Academic selections.
Omar graduated from Winona State University in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Management Information Systems. He also works at Winona State as a Systems Administrator.