Cougars Sign Lilavois as Player/Coach
Stockton, CA - The Stockton Cougars, of the Professional Arena Soccer League (PASL-Pro), sign 16 year arena soccer veteran Bernie Lilavois as both their head coach and a player for the upcoming 2008-09 season. Per team policy, terms of the deal will not be disclosed. Lilavois becomes the first official coach signed to lead a team in the new PASL-Pro. The announcement was made Monday.
"I'm happy to be returning as the player/coach of the Cougars," said Lilavois. "I've enjoyed my time here in Stockton and look forward to many more years to come. Our goal still remains to bring a championship to the city of Stockton and the great fans of the Cougars."
Lilavois was recently named as the coach of the first US National Arena Soccer team. The team, sanctioned by Federation International Futbol Rapido Association (FIFRA), will participate in the first international arena soccer tournament in Montreal, Canada from June 28 to July 1, 2008.
The PASL-Pro is the fourth professional arena league Lilavois has played for in his career. He first broke into professional indoor soccer in 1994 as a member of the Continental Indoor Soccer League's San Jose franchise. The forward finished the 1994 season with 55 points, including 36 goals and 19 assists. He recorded 120 goals and 62 assists for a total of 174 points over four seasons in the CISL.
He spent a single season in the short-lived World Indoor Soccer League in 1999. Lilavois racked up 27 goals and 15 assists for 42 points while with the Portland Pythons.
The bulk of "the Bolts" career came as a player and coach in the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) and National Professional Soccer League (NPSL) from 1995 to 2008. Lilavois amassed 286 goals, 171 assists for 457 points in 10 seasons. Lilavois' 1999-00 season with the Harrisburg Heat was the best statistical season in his career. Lilavois recorded 71 goals and 29 assists that season.
Lilavois begins his fourth season with the Cougars, and his second full season as Head Coach. He took over command of the team after his forced retirement on 2/10/07, immediately after the Stars of Mexico event. He recorded 19 assists and 12 two-point goals for a total of 43 points despite retiring after 19 games played in the 2006-07 season. Those 19 assists held throughout the remaining 11 game schedule, making Lilavois the team assists leader at seasons end.
He returned as head coach of the Cougars in the 2007-08 season, and as a player in February. Former MISL Commissioner Steve Ryan allowed Lilavois to act as both player/coach because of the severe number of injuries sustained on the Cougars roster. Lilavois recorded 10 goals and seven assists over an eight game stretch after returning to the team. He eclipsed the 900 point plateau on 3/22/08 with a three goal and one assist performance against the Detroit Ignition. His 916 career points include the various multi-point scoring systems and all seasons of professional indoor play.
In his first full season as head coach, Lilavois led the Cougars to their best overall record. He also led his team to a strong 7-4 start.
The Cougars are in their fourth year of existence and their first as a member of the Pro-PASL. He was the first player ever signed by the California Cougars.
Lilavois began his professional soccer career with the San Francisco Bay Blackhawks and was a member of the 1991 APSL National Championship Team. Lilavois also had a brief stint with Ayr United of the Scottish First Division.
Since 2000 he has been a member of the United States National Futsal Team where he helped the squad earn a bronze medal in Costa Rica during the Concacaf Tournament that year. In 2004 he helped Team USA to the Goal Cup Championship, scoring a goal in the Final versus Mexico. Among his numerous career awards, Lilavois was named Team MVP for the Charleston Battery of the A-League in 1998, a CISL All-Star in 1997 with Anaheim Splash, an All-League Selection in 1997, 1999, 2000 & 2001 and was named to All-Decade Team with Harrisburg Heat in 2001.
Lilavois attended Cal State Northridge, helping them to a NCAA Division II runner-up finish in 1988. He is a graduate of La Salle High School in Pasadena, Calif. where he holds the school record for scoring was named to the school's Hall of Fame.
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