Molloy College is turning to a Long Island soccer fixture to help put its men’s program on the map.
Molloy, the Division II school in Rockville Centre, named Tyler Botte the Lions' new coach on Wednesday. Botte, 27, grew up in West Islip, was a starter on the 2008 St. Anthony’s High School state Catholic boys championship team and was a 2013 all-Colonial Athletic Association back at Hofstra. He then played seven seasons for the semi-pro Long Island Rough Riders while also serving as an assistant coach at Molloy.
“I’ve been given an amazing opportunity and I believe there are so many positive opportunities ahead,” he said. “I'm the type of person that sets goals very, very high and I think that if you're not striving to be in the NCAA Tournament every year . . . you're not setting the bar high enough for yourself."
Botte takes over for Danny Longo, who coached the Lions for the past 14 seasons. Longo hired him for the Molloy staff in 2014 and promoted him to associate head coach last season when the Lions won a school-record-tying 12 games and hit double figures in victories for the third time in five seasons.
Since it began Division II play in 1997, Molloy has reached the NCAA Tournament just once — in 2008 — but Botte envisions a program that should make the showcase event an annual goal.
“We have everything from the facilities to the campus life to the academic success for the school to really be an attractive place for top players — both locally and abroad,” he said. “The sky's the limit.”
Botte envisions diversity as the cornerstone of the program. He believes that Molloy can be a destination for Long Island and New York City soccer players and he wants to blend the local talent with international recruits. He would like the Lions to play a high-scoring style but also be capable of winning defensive, low-scoring contests.
“I'm very, very detail-oriented. I rely on a lot of film [because] a lot of the answers are in the film,” Botte said. “If we’re the better side and we have the opportunity to dictate tempo, that’s what we’d prefer. But if we need to defend our balls, sit in and hit a team on counter? We’re going to do that.”
Botte described the move from playing to coaching as “the natural transition — and a very enjoyable one” and said he will borrow from Longo, Hofstra coach Rich Nuttall and St. Anthony’s highly successful coach Gene Buonaiuto but also wants to blend in his own priorities of preparation.
While this may be the next step for Botte he recognizes that the fall season remains in limbo because of the coronavirus outbreak. “It’s what I want to be doing, and I want this coming season for our players, but we only can control what we control,” Botte said.
The circumstances, however, do not diminish the eagerness for the opportunity at Molloy.
“Soccer has been my life almost my entire life,” he said. “Once I kind of stopped playing, or even while I was still playing, coaching just seemed like what I wanted to do . . . I can’t wait to start.”
From Hofstra to Harvard. Former Hofstra women’s basketball star Erin McDermott was named athletic director at Harvard last week. McDermott, who graduated from Hofstra in 1994 and was named the school’s top female student-athlete as a senior, is the first woman AD at the Ivy League school. She spent the past seven years as AD at the University of Chicago.