By Shaun Chornobroff
After an underwhelming opening half in Rider’s Nov. 2 matchup against Canisius, men’s soccer Head Coach Charlie Inverso knew he had one more halftime outburst left in him.
“I really wanted to win this game, and I thought we started really sluggish,” said Inverso, who was coaching his final game after announcing his retirement the previous day. “You know, I let them have it.”
What ensued was an exceedingly satisfactory effort and a 1-0 win, courtesy of a 65th minute goal from sophomore midfielder Jack McGeechan.
Despite a season that was abnormally unsuccessful to what had become customary during his tenure, McGeechan’s goal secured a fitting end to what can only be described as a resoundingly successful tenure for Inverso.
“It feels really good to get him out with a win, and I think he deserves it after having such great seasons for the long time he’s been here,” McGeechan said.
Leaving the school with three Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) titles, Inverso reversed the fate of a program that was near the conference’s basement upon his arrival, turning it into one of its most formidable in his 12-year stint at the school.
“I’ve been blessed. I never thought when I took over that I’d experience the things that I did here,” Inverso said in a teary-eyed post-game interview, that occured after a bevy of hugs and a celebratory gatorade bath from his players.
“Leaving with a win, really, really feels good,” he said.
Despite the plethora of accolades he has received, like being National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Northeast Region Coach of the Year in 2015, among other accolades, Inverso has never been one to get caught in the awards or the wins and losses.
This job has always been more than that to him.
“It goes way beyond just being out on the field with guys,” Inverso said. “You have to teach them life lessons and most importantly, you have to teach them how to care about other people. If we can do that: mission accomplished.”
While the goal of having a purpose beyond the field may just be coachspeak for many in Inverso’s position, the admiration his players and the Rider community show that it’s not when it comes to him.
“He’s even more than a coach to me,” McGeechan said. “He’s just been guiding me through everything, even with school, but on the field, he’s showing me and making me a better player.”
Prior to taking over at Rider, Inverso enjoyed a successful 24-year stint at Mercer County Community College, winning five national championships and being inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2021.
Outside of his normal coaching duty, Inverso is one of the founders of Mooch Soccer, an organization that makes soccer available to underprivileged children in Trenton. Multiple former members have gone on to play collegiately and at least one former player making the jump to the professional level.
“He loves the game. He does it for the love of the game and the love of the kids,” said Mickey Forker, a longtime friend of Inverso’s and a member of the Mercer County College Hall of Fame.
As Forker walked away at the end of the interview, he emphasized that of anything he could say about Inverso, a fellow member of the “Mercer County soccer family,” his love for his players stands out the most.
Inverso said in the press release announcing his departure he hopes to continue coaching in some capacity. For now, he retires with a 530-137-39 record across his 36 years as a head coach and a 96-91-25 mark during his time at the helm in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.
When asked what his favorite memory was over the past dozen years, the first moment that came to his mind was not winning a conference title, or any of the moments during the trio of NCAA Tournament appearances Rider made with Inverso.
Inverso’s instinct brought him back to an early season non-conference match.
“The day my daughter left for college in 2016, and I was just a wreck, we won in overtime at Villanova,” Inverso recalled. “I think God gave me a break that day. That was one that comes to mind right away as very happy.”