QUINCY -- Tbe last time Quincy University was in search of a women's soccer coach, the administration chose to hire a young collegiate assistant with ties to St. Louis' rich recruiting base.
It worked so well that QU vice president of intercollegiate athletics Marty Bell stuck with that formula this time around.
The school announced Monday morning it was hiring St. Louis native Marc Hager to replace Dave Musso as the Hawks' head coach. Musso, also a St. Louisian, resigned in December to become the head coach at Lindenwood University after guiding the Hawks to 10 NCAA Tournament appearances in 12 seasons at the helm.
Hager, 27, spent the last four seasons as an assistant at McKendree University, helping the Bearcats to back-to-back Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament championships and the first two NCAA Tournament appearances in program history.
"I've been involved in soccer all my life, and Quincy, from a soccer standpoint, has always been a cut above the rest," Hager said. "When the job opened up, it was kind of a no-brainer to apply for it. To get a chance to actually lead the program, it's a dream come true in a lot of cases.
"I couldn't be more thrilled. It's an incredible opportunity, and I can't wait to get started."
Hager grew up in St. Louis and played soccer at Vianney High School with former Hawks standouts Chris Garavaglia and Steve McAnany, both starters on the 2014 QU team that reached the NCAA Division II final four.
Hager also played at Webster University from 2010-2013, helping the Gorloks make an NCAA Division III Tournament in 2012. He was a three-time academic all-conference selection.
"I love his energy and I love the fact he's been a part of the culture at McKendree that has been successful," Bell said. "His approach and his vision are very similar to what has been going in with that program the past 12 years under Dave Musso.
"It's a more seamless transition with someone like him coming in who kind of has the same principles that the girls and the program are accustomed to."
Hager inherits a team coming off a 17-4-1 season in which the Hawks won the GLVC regular-season championship and reached the Midwest Region semifinals. Quincy lost 3-0 to McKendree in the GLVC Tournament championship. That team featured 10 seniors, including two All-Americans -- forward Mackenzie Rief and defender Allison Birke.
By no means does that mean the cupboard is bare.
Quincy returns five players who started in the NCAA Tournament games, including forward Cassidy Foley, who was second on the team with five goals and three assists. Two starters -- forward Abby Pulliam and midfielder Alex Severino -- who suffered season-ending knee injuries last year are expected to return healthy.
"I know the team very well," Hager said. "To be honest, a lot of those Quincy players I recruited at McKendree. I know a lot of them as players and people. It's a good opportunity to get into a conference that I know very well with a team I know very well and hopefully continue the success they've had."
He will do that in a very organized and specific way.
"I'm very detail oriented," Hager said. "I like to give my players every bit of ammunition going into a game to make sure we're more prepared than the other team. I take scouting and film very, very seriously.
"I'm a winner, first and foremost. It's a mentality, just talking to everyone from Quincy, they take a lot of pride in."