Field Hockey Coaching Staff
Phil Sykes
Head Coach
Coach Info:
Position: Head Coach
Alma Mater: California State-Hayward
Graduating Year: 1999
Experience: 15 Years
Phone: (518) 442-3017

Phil Sykes enters his 15th season as head coach of the University at Albany field hockey program in 2019.

In his tenure, Sykes has guided the Great Danes to six of the last 10 America East Conference Championship titles (2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2018) and six NCAA Tournament berths. With his efforts, Sykes has been named America East Conference Coach of the Year three times (2008, 2009, 2014). 

At the helm over the past 15 seasons, Sykes's Great Danes are currently riding a streak of 13 winning seasons. UAlbany has posted double-digit wins the past 13 seasons, including its highest total of 20 in 2014.

Sykes garnered his 200th career win on October 7, 2018, following a 2-1 win against conference rival New Hampshire. The Great Danes finished conference play with a 6-2 record in 2018 and went on to capture both the America East regular season and tournament title. UAlbany garnered four NFHCA All-Region selections and eight All-Conference honorees including America East Defensive Player of the Year Frederike Helmke and Co-Goalkeeper of the Year Melissa Nealon. The duo also received NFHCA All-America accolades as they were selected to the second and third team, respectively.

In 2016, UAlbany earned its third consecutive America East regular season title with a 7-1 tally in the East Division and its 11th straight winning season, finishing 14-6 overall.  The team defeated UC Davis in the America East quarterfinals before falling to Pacific in the next round.  Paula Heuser was a Honda Award finalist, being named one of the top-four players in the country, as well as an NFHCA First Team All-American and America East Midfielder of the Year, finishing in the top-20 in goals, assists and points per game.  Heuser and Maxi Primus were each NFHCA All-Americans while Frederike Helmke and Jaclyn Hibbs were each placed on the NFHCA All-Region Team.

The 2015 Great Danes returned to the NCAA Tournament after allowing just one goal in the new-look America East Tournament, and compiling an overall record of 19-3. UAlbany downed UC Davis 7-1 in the quarterfinals, Pacific 5-0 in the semifinals and No. 19 Maine 2-0 in the championship. The 2015 senior class of Liza Morgan, Laura Page, Fiori Van Rijswijk and Emily White graduated as the winningest four-year group in program history under Sykes's guidance.

Sykes once again had outstanding individual play, as Paula Heuser garnered her second NFHCA First Team All-American honor. She is also the first Great Dane to be honored as an All-American three times. Heuser was selected as the NFHCA Northeast Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons after ranking third nationally in points per game and goals per game. Entering her junior year, Heuser is the current active career leader across all three NCAA divisions in points (194) and goals (80).

Joining Heuser in the national offensive ranks was Van Rijswijk, finishing as the national runner-up in assists per game (0.94). Sykes also led a program-record six Great Danes to NFHCA All-Region teams in Anna Bottino, Paula Heuser, Jaclyn Hibbs, Laura Page, Maxi Primus and Van Rijswijk.

In his 11th season, Sykes guided the Great Danes to a historic 2014 year on all cylinders. UAlbany won its first NCAA Tournament game on Nov. 15 in the First Round against No. 5 Wake Forest 2-1 in College Park, Md. UAlbany followed up that victory by beating regional host No. 2 Maryland in the Second Round on Nov. 16, 2-1. Those two victories sent the 2014 squad to the University's first all-time appearance in a national semifinal.

Phil Sykes also became the first male head coach since the NCAA Division I Field Hockey Tournament was established in 1981 to appear in the NCAA Semifinals. He was named the NFHCA Northeast Region Coach of the Year ad ECAC Coach of the Year for his efforts.

The Purple & Gold took its fourth America East Championship all-time in 2014, winning the final by a record score of 5-0 against New Hampshire. It was the first time since the 90s there was a shutout in the conference final, and it was the largest margin of victory all-time.

The Great Danes took an all-time single season record 20 games in 2014, behind the individual efforts of star midfielder Paula Heuser and goalkeeper Maxi Primus. UAlbany won its first game against a top-10 nationally ranked opponent on Sept. 14 when the team downed No. 8 Stanford in Palo Alto 1-0. The Purple & Gold went on to achieve its highest all-time national ranking at No. 7. Heuser was named the Honda Sport Award Winner, NFHCA National Player of the Year and an NFHCA First Team All-American; while Primus became the first goalkeeper all-time at UAlbany to earn All-America honors on the third team under Sykes's tutelage. 

Sykes compiled one of the toughest non-conference schedules in history in 2013, with games against No. 4 Virginia, No. 6 Stanford and 2012 NCAA Champion, Princeton. The Great Danes went 15-6, including a 9-0 start. The Purple & Gold achieved its then-highest all-time national ranking at No. 11 for the week of Sept. 16. The 2013 squad was ranked for 16 consecutive weeks.

The Great Danes returned to the America East Championship game in 2013, falling 3-2 to New Hampshire. UAlbany took home several major awards, including Offensive Player of the Year (Daphne Voormolen), as well as Rookie and Midfielder of the Year (Paula Heuser). Heuser became the first America East field hockey student-athlete to earn Rookie and Midfielder of the Year honors in the same year.

Sykes coached two All-Americans in 2013. Senior Corrine McConville was named to the NFHCA All-America Third Team, while Heuser was selected for the second team. McConville became just the second Great Dane to earn All-America status twice in her career. McConville and Heuser also became the first two UAlbany players to garner All-America honors in the same season.

UAlbany tallied its third America East Tournament Championship with a win over New Hampshire, 3-1, in 2012. The Great Danes moved on to face Penn State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. UAlbany fell 2-1 to the Nittany Lions, finishing 13-8 on the season. The Great Danes tallied four student-athletes on the America East All-Conference squads, four on the All-Academic team, and two on the All-Rookie squad. Kristi Troch took home her third consecutive Goalkeeper of the Year award; Laura Page garnered Co-Rookie of the Year and Daphne Voormolen was selected as Co-Offensive Player of the Year.

The Great Danes recorded a 13-7 overall record and 3-2 in conference play in 2011. UAlbany fell to the 10th-ranked UNH Wildcats, 1-0, in the semifinals of the America East Conference Tournament. Sykes watched Kristi Troch defend her Goalkeeper of the Year award for the second consecutive year.

In 2010, UAlbany posted a 16-6 record, going 4-1 in conference play. A mentor to the league's Goalkeeper of the Year, Kristi Troch and Rookie of the Year, Corrine McConville, Sykes also saw Christina Patrick and Taylor Luke, alongside Troch, earn All-Conference first team accolades, while Daphne Voormolen joined McConville on the All-Rookie team.

Since joining the Great Danes, Sykes has coached five NFHCA All-Americans, 20 NFHCA All-Region selections and 11 America East Players of the Year. In addition to his work on the field, the 12-year head coach has also mentored six NFHCA Scholars of Distinction and 40 NFHCA National Academic squad members. Four student-athletes have been named America East Field Hockey Scholar-Athletes in his time: Paula Heuser (2014-15), Daphne Voormolen (2013), Kristi Troch (2010) and Arlette Westdrop (2006).

Prior to his arrival at UAlbany, Sykes stepped into a role as interim head coach at Cornell in 2003. Sykes also served as the first assistant at Towson University, as the Tigers showed dramatic improvement during Sykes' tenure, winning 10 games during the 2002 season.

Sykes has a vast amount of playing experience. At age 16, Sykes represented his country in a United States vs. Canada Challenge in Calgary, Alberta. That served as the beginning of Sykes' experience on the U.S. Junior and Senior National Teams, which included playing in the 1989 Junior World Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia. Sykes competed at the 1995 Pan American Games in Argentina, where the U.S. squad won a bronze medal. The highlight of Sykes' playing career came in the 1996 Olympics, when he played on the U.S. Olympic team.

A native of Livermore, California, Sykes retired from international competition to finish his college degree. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in kinesiology from California State University, Hayward in 1999.

Sykes, who resides in Clifton Park with his wife Jen, also plays competitive tennis. He played number one singles and doubles at Chabot Junior College, earning a scholarship to the University of Texas-Pan American, and began teaching tennis in California, later earning his USPTA certification.