Alf Bilbao has been instrumental in building the Drury University soccer programs into a perennial contender for Great Lakes Valley Conference and NCAA Division II post-season honors in his twelve seasons at DU, as he prepares to make 2017 his 11th season as the head women's coach with the Panthers.
Bilbao, the winningest coach in DU women's soccer history at 74-48-16, will field a program coming off a 9-7-3 finish that resulted in a fifth grip to the GLVC post-season tourney's eight-team field in the last six years, where the Panthers lost in a shootout to top-seed Quincy after a scoreless regulation and two overtimes.
Bilbao's Panthers are now 49-37-12 in GLVC play after last season's 7-6-2 league mark with a squad that was ravaged by injuries in the first three weeks to key offensive personnel.
Bilbao was hired as the Drury men's soccer coach when he arrived on the Springfield campus from Truman State in 2005, then added the task of coaching both the DU men and women a year later for what became a three-year run of pulling double-duty on the sidelines (2006-08).
Bilbao handed over the reigns to the men's program to his former assistant, Ryan Swan, in 2009, and promptly watched the team he had helped build through recruiting compile a 21-2 record, win the GLVC Championship and advance to the NCAA-II Sweet 16.
His second DU women's squad posted the most successful season in the program's history, finishing with a 17-5-3 and winning its first GLVC Championship by sweeping to the title in the post-season tournament in Edwardsville, Ill.,and advanced to the NCAA-II Sweet 16 for the first time in the program's history, falling to nationally top-ranked Grand Valley State 4-1 in Mankato, Minn.
The 17 victories represented a new mark for the DU women's program, and the GLVC title - courtesy of a shootout victory over Missouri-St. Louis in the GLVC Tournament finals - came for a Panthers' squad picked ninth in the 14-team preseason poll of league coaches.
Bilbao was highly successful as coach of the DU men's program in his four seasons, including a 13-5-3 record and first-ever berth in the GLVC Tournament last season, when the Panthers took top-seed and eventual champion Rockhurst deep into a thrilling penalty-kick shootout in Kansas City before falling in the tourney semis.
Bilbao's men were 43-27-10 in those four seasons, including a 36-17-8 record in his final three years as he took a struggling Panthers' program and turned it into a squad that earned a spot in the NCAA-II national Top 25 polls in two of his past three campaigns.
Before coming to Drury, he helped build the Truman State University men's soccer program into an NCAA Division II contender. He led his alma mater into the National Top 25 in five of his seven seasons, including three trips to the NCAA Tournament (1998, 1999, 2003). Arguably his best team with the Bulldogs came in 2003, when Truman posted a 19-0 regular season mark. The Bulldogs won their first game 5-2 against Southern Illinois Edwardsville, but fell in the national quarterfinals to Findlay Ohio 2-1.
For his efforts, Bilbao was named Coach of the Year for the Central region by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. All told, Bilbao left Truman with a school-record 96 victories and .716 winning percentage with his 96-28-10 record.
Bilbao, a native of Hillsboro, Oregon, played at Truman State from 1998 to 1992. The Bulldogs' team captain is senior year, Bilbao graduated with a degree in exercise science in 1993 while serving as an assistant coach that year.
Bilbao then left to become a high school assistant coach in Lake Zurich, Ill., for one season before moving to Des Moines, Iowa, to play for the Des Moines Menace of the Premier Developmental League, also serving as head coach of Lincoln High School there for a year. Soon after, Bilbao moved on to coach Central College in Pella, Iowa, running both the men's and women's programs at the D-III program, for a season before returning to Truman State in July of 1998.
Alf and his wife Carie - also a former Truman soccer standout - have three children, Aidan (15), Abby (12) and Keegan (8).