Patrick Baker enters his fifth year as the head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs and the 21st season of his career. He has sparked a resurgence in the Georgia soccer program, leading the Bulldogs to double-digit wins in each of his four seasons. At the helm of UGA soccer Baker has amassed a record of 51-30-5 (.622). Not only has Baker coached winning teams on the field, he has also had successful teams in the classroom. In each of his four seasons at Georgia, the Bulldogs have been awarded the NSCAA Team Academic Award.
In 2008, Baker and the Bulldogs faced one of the nation’s toughest schedules. In the end, Georgia faced seven teams that finished in the top 15 of the final Ratings Percentage Index. Included in that mix was No. 1 North Carolina, which would eventually go on to win the national championship, No. 3 Stanford, No. 8 Florida, No. 9 Duke, No. 12 Virginia, No. 14 Southern California and No. 15 BYU. Undaunted by their early-season struggles against the nation’s toughest schedule, the Bulldogs finished the regular season with a 9-9-1 record as they began the SEC Tournament. Forced by the task to win at least once in the tournament, Georgia earned a first-round win over South Carolina, then nearly cemented their standing in the NCAA Tournament with a 3-0 win over then No. 7 Florida, the highest ranked team any Georgia squad has defeated. It was Georgia’s second-straight appearance in the SEC Championship game and the NCAA Tournament.
The 2008 season saw four players earn All-SEC status, including Megan Tomlinson, who became the fourth straight player under Baker to earn a major conference award when she was voted the SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors and was named First Team All-SEC. Carrie Patterson joined Tomlinson on the All-SEC First Team, while Bailey Powell was named Second Team All-SEC and a Freshman All-SEC performer, and Ashley Miller was named a member of the Freshman All-SEC Team. Baker has now seen 10 different players earn 18 All-SEC awards, including eight First-Team honorees.
Baker also saw two members of his 15th-ranked 2008 recruiting class invited to their respective national team camps. Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Ashley Baker was selected to the England U-20 National Team that competed in the 2008 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Chile last November. In January 2009, sophomore defender Bailey Powell was invited to the first of many training camps with the United States U-20 National Team.
Baker led Georgia to a monumental season in 2007, setting or tying several school records including most wins in a season (18) and fewest losses in a season (4). Georgia posted its best regular season in program history with 15 wins including the program’s first-ever win over rival Florida. The Bulldogs finished second in the SEC, also a first for the program, and advanced the the finals of the SEC Tournament.
In 2006, Georgia posted its second straight winning season for the first time sine 2000-01. Two members of Baker’s first signing class at Georgia made immediate impact as Carrie Patterson was named SEC Freshman of the Year and goalkeeper Michelle Betos also earned All-SEC recognition.
In 2005, Baker’s first year at the helm for Georgia, Baker completed the second-best turnaround in SEC history, winning eight more games than in the previous year. Under his leadership, the Bulldogs improved to 12-6-2, good enough for a fifth-place finish in the SEC and a return to the SEC Tournament. Georgia thrived in Baker’s 4-4-2 system, scoring 14 more goals than the previous year, hitting the back of the net 34 times. The Dogs also posted the best defensive effort in program history, allowing just 10 regular-season goals.
One of Baker’s most crucial decisions before the 2005 season began was to take a former defender, senior Ali Williams, and place her up top into an attacking role. Williams went on to lead the team and the conference in scoring and earned SEC Offensive Player of the Year honors.
Baker’s recent signing classes are another true testament to the recruiting prowess of him and his staff. With this incoming 2009 class, Baker inked two-time defending Tennessee Player of the Year in Susannah Dennis and the 2009 Georgia State Player of the Year in Laura Eddy. Also, four of their five signees have and extensive experience with the Region III Olympic Development Program and have played against some of the strongest competition from around the world.
Baker, the third head coach at Georgia since the program’s inception in 1995, came to Athens in December of 2004 with impressive credentials. He amassed an 80-46-11 overall record in six successful seasons at Florida State that included five straight trips to the NCAA Tournament appearances.
Similar to the circumstances under which he was hired at Georgia, Baker was hired as the Florida State head coach with the hope that he could turn around a struggling program. Baker did not disappoint, coaching his team to a winning record of 14-8-2 in just his second year at the Seminole helm in 2000. In 2001, Baker led his team to the program’s first winning record in ACC play, going 4-3. That team also reached the ACC Tournament Championship game, a program first.
The defining season of Baker’s 20-year career may have come in 2003. Expectations were running high as the team was a consensus top-15 preseason ranking and was coming off its second Sweet 16 appearance in three years. After getting off to a rocky 1-4 start, Baker coached his team to a 17-8-1 final record and the program’s first College Cup appearance. “1-4 to the Final Four” is how the 2003 Seminoles are remembered. Baker was named the Soccer America National Coach of the Year for his efforts.
In what would end up as his final year as the Seminole head coach, Baker lead his 2004 Florida State team to a 12-5-3 record, including a 1-0 win against Georgia in Tallahassee.
Competing in arguably the toughest women’s soccer conference in the country, Baker’s team finished in the top three of the Atlantic Coast Conference standings three of his last four years and reached the ACC Tournament Championship in 2001 and 2003.
Over his six-year FSU career, Baker’s squads finished in the top-20 five straight times, including a top-five showing in 2003. The Seminoles reached the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2000 and 2002 and they registered 18 wins against ranked teams. He also coached all four of the highest-scoring teams in Florida State history. His Seminole squads hold school records for wins, winning percentage, best ACC winning percentage, most ACC wins, most goals scored and fewest goals allowed.
Baker began his coaching career at Division III North Carolina Wesleyan in 1989. Not only was he the head coach of the women’s soccer program, but also took on the jobs of Sports Information Director for 12 sports and Head Groundskeeper for soccer.
In five years at NC Wesleyan, Baker led his team to a record of 45-21-4, twice earning Dixie Conference Coach of the Year honors. He coached the Lady Bishops to three Div. III NCAA Tournament appearances and three top-10 finishes as well. In 1991, Baker was named the National Soccer Coaches of America (NSCAA) Division III South Region Coach of the Year. Baker was inducted into the North Carolina Wesleyan Athletic Hall of Fame in 2002.
Following his success at Wesleyan, Baker made the jump to Division I as he became the head women’s soccer coach at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in 1994. Over the next five years, Baker compiled a 42-37-5 record in at the Quaker helm.
In just his second year at the Penn head coach, his team posted the best record in the program’s history and registered its first-ever winning season, going 8-6-2. Just two years later, his 1997 Quaker squad became one of the most successful in school history. The team recorded double-digit wins for the first time, going 14-5-0, and had its first in-conference winning season with a 5-2-0 mark. The crowning achievement came in the postseason, when the Quakers captured the school’s first Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Championship. For his successes, Baker was named the Mid-Atlantic Region Coach of the Year.
Under Baker’s direction, Penn saw its players receive All-Ivy League, All-District and All-Region selections for the first time in the program’s history. Several of the offensive and defensive records that were established during Baker’s time as head coach still remain in the top five in the Quaker record book.
Following another winning season off 11-5-1 in 1998, Baker was hired to become the second coach in the short history of the Florida State program, taking over for Heather Kerby-Nelson.
Along every stop during his coaching career, a significant trend has developed — Baker’s ability to turn a program around and set it on a winning course. Baker has of course shown a knack for taking a struggling team and making it a winner during his tenure. But one fact that may be even more impressive is that he has always been able to leave that team in a situation conducive to future success.
Since his departure from North Carolina Wesleyan, the Lady Bishops have gone on to win seven conference crowns, including six in a row from 1996-2001. At Penn, the Quakers became ECAC Champions in 2000 and won the Ivy League in 2001. Finally, the 2005 Florida State Seminoles made a return trip to the College Cup before falling to national runner-up UCLA.
Baker is also an integral member of the US National Team program and served as the interim head coach for the U-17 National Team after assisting head coach David Smith with the newly formed team. He has also assisted U-19 National Team head coach Tracey Leone on numerous occasions at the Arco Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., preparing the team for the inaugural U-19 FIFA World Championships. Baker helped the U-19 National Team prepare for a match against the Mexican National Team and for a European tour in 2001. He recently traveled to help prep the full national team for an Olympic friendly versus the Australian National Team that Baker’s squad faced three times during the summer of 2004. He served as the head coach for the Region III girl’s Olympic Development Program (ODP) and was named an assistant coach for the 2000 U-16 Women’s National Team.
Baker has attended the South Region ODP camps since 1990 and has a total of 18 years experience at all levels of the ODP. Prior to working with the U-16 team, he assisted head coach Lauren Gregg with the U-21 Women’s National Team for three consecutive years. He served four years at the U-14 state level in North Carolina and was the 1996 U-17 ODP state coach for Eastern Pennsylvania. Baker coached the U-16 and U-18 ODP South Regional camps for eight years and was the assistant coach for the U-17 South Region team from 1991-93. Baker was also the U.S. South Region amateur coach for the five years where he received the national coach of the year award in 1994.
Baker received his Bachelor of Arts from Otterbein College in 1989 as a double major in Radio & Television Broadcasting and Journalism with a minor in Public Relations. He graduated with a 3.67 GPA and was a four-year starter for the men’s soccer team. Baker was named team captain as a junior and senior. He was a member of the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) All-Academic Team from 1986- 89, was a first-team All-Conference selection in 1989 and played on three OAC Championship squads. Baker played soccer for 11 years in England and Germany while his father was stationed overseas with the U.S. Air Force.
Baker is married to Kelly Sack-Baker, and the couple has two children, Emma Louise, 8, and Ryan Patrick, 6.