On Monday, Dec. 6, Villanova University Vice President and Director of Athletics Mark Jackson announced that Samar Azem will be the new women’s soccer coach. The news comes after Chris McLain resigned in October after five seasons with the Wildcats.
“First, I want to thank a great group of teammates from across our department and some key women's soccer alumni who helped lead a search process that involved a lot of time, energy, and dedication,” Jackson said. “A special thanks to our President, Father Peter Donohue, who also offered his support at every turn. We examined a number of established head coaches from across the country and Samar continuously rose to the top of our list. Beyond her proven soccer acumen, recruiting success, and commitment to academic achievement, what stood out about Samar went well beyond soccer. At every point in her career, she has built deep, meaningful, and inspiring relationships with the women she has coached and the people she has worked with and we look forward to her making the same positive impact on the Villanova women's soccer program, as well as, our overarching community."
Azem began her head coaching career in women’s soccer in 2011 at Division II Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. She was head coach until 2013 and earned an overall record of 21-24-9, including a 12-10-7 record in South Atlantic Conference play. Azem led the Trojans to the semifinal round of the SAC Tournament in 2011 for the first time in program history. In 2011 the Trojans were ranked No. 8 in the Southeast Region.
Azem comes from Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina where she was the head coach for five seasons, starting in 2017. She led the Camels to a record last year of 12-4-2 and an overall record of 50-30-8. In addition, in the 2020-21 season, Azem and the Camels won the Big South Women’s Soccer Championship against High Point University. This marked the first Big South Championship for Campbell since 1993. During this year, Campbell earned a No. 22 national ranking and had a program-record four players named to the United Soccer Coaches All-Region teams. She was also named the 2020–21 Big South Conference Coach of the Year.
At Campbell, Azem was known for revamping the offense for the Camels and helping them become one of the top offensive teams in the country. Since 2018, the Camels have ranked in the top 10 nationally in goal-scoring, including eighth in 2021-22, ninth in 2020-21 and 10th in 2019-20.
She was also known for bringing the best out of the players for the Camels. In the 2020-21 season, Jessica Donald was named a Top Drawer Scorer Top 100 performer and Cazzi Norgren was a Top Drawer Top 100 Freshmen honoree. In 2021, Donald made program history by being named Big South Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
As for her college career, Azem was a skilled goalkeeper for Campbell from 2003 to 2007. In 2004, she helped the Camels win both the A-Sun regular season and tournament championships. For individual awards, Azem earned A-Sun All-Academic recognition and the program’s Coaches Award in 2005 and 2006.
Azem is a native of Jos, Nigeria. She graduated from Campbell with a Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcasting and a minor in Psychology in 2007 and earned her Master’s Degree in Education from Mercer.
In addition to her coaching career at Anderson and Campbell, Azem also has experience in assistant coaching at Brevard College in North Carolina, Mercer University in Georgia and Presbyterian University in South Carolina.
However, as for the 2022-23 season, Azem will move up north to Pennsylvania to coach her first Big East team.
"I am humbled and excited for the opportunity to serve Villanova University, the women's soccer players and the community,” Azem said. “I would like to thank University President Father Peter Donohue and Director of Athletics Mark Jackson, for their confidence in me and the opportunity to lead the women's soccer program at Villanova University. I also want to express my gratitude to Omar Banks, Hannah Bazemore and my players at Campbell University for an incredible journey. Villanova University is rich in tradition and represents excellence at the highest level both academically and athletically, which is extremely important to me. I am excited to meet and get to know our team, our alumni, and our community. I can't wait to get started serving, teaching and guiding our players as we build on and elevate our traditions of success."