AURORA | Andy Colella is done roaming sidelines, for now, as he’s resigned as head coach of the Smoky Hill girls soccer team.
Colella — who took over for Betsy Sprafka prior to the 2008 season — departs with a 61-30-9 career record and six consecutive trips to the Class 5A girls state soccer playoffs.
The strain on Colella’s time became too much, as he found himself away from his wife, Patricia — a former Smoky Hill assistant — and his nearly 2-year-old daughter, Charlotte, much too often in the past year.
“It’s a family decision; the time away from my wife and young kid was a pretty big stresser on the family,” Colella said Thursday. “This year, it got to where it became more and more difficult to do the job with the quality that I thought needed to be done. I found myself just feeling guilty being away from my wife and kid. I was being torn.”
In his final season, Colella’s Smoky Hill team went 11-3-2 and brought home the program’s first Centennial League championship since 2004 with a 6-0-1 mark, including a second consecutive win against powerhouse Cherry Creek. The Buffs were able to match the feat of Kersten Mullan’s boys team in the fall with their league crown.
The season ended with a loss in the second round of the 5A state playoffs to upstart Liberty, which prevailed over Smoky Hill on penalty kicks.
Colella certainly didn’t leave because of the state of the program.
Only two Aurora girls prep soccer programs — Vic Strouse’s Rangeview team and Colella’s Smoky Hill squad — posted double-digit win totals in each of the past four seasons. The Buffaloes recorded three straight 12-win seasons between 2010 and 2012 before 11 wins this past season and were seeded eighth or higher in the postseason in every year.
In addition, the program turned out a number of talented players who have headed to the college ranks, such as 2013 graduate and Virginia Tech signee Candace Cephers.
“It’s been awesome; the program has been successful, we’ve had some good wins and made some great relationships,” Colella said. “When I talked to the girls just a couple of days ago about resigning, I said ‘I’m not going to be there, but the plan doesn’t change.’ The plan is to win back-to-back league championships. Ultimately, I didn’t score any goals or make any saves, they did that. We have the players in place, so hopefully they stay motivated and whoever comes in to take my spot can continue to build on what we have going.”
Colella offered his help to new athletic director Preston Davis as he seeks the next head coach. The job should draw plenty of interest given the program’s status as defending league champion and the slew of young talent expected to return.
Striker Sam Howshar and defender Sami Brooks each earned All-Centennial League first team honors in 2013 as freshmen, while junior-to-be Madi Watts should be healthy enough to return to the midfield after a torn ACL ended a promising 2013 season. Goalkeeper Megan Kneefel will be a junior and a few other key players also should be back in the fold.
Among the Buffs’ main losses from last season is Cephers, who tallied a team-high 20 goals in each of the past two seasons.
Colella — who will continue to teach at Smoky Hill and watch the team as a fan — is adamant that he doesn’t expect to coach again, unless his daughter decides to play.
“You might see me coaching the Under-6 Butterflies with my daughter, but that’s it,” he said with a laugh.
Reach Sports Editor Courtney Oakes at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-750-7555
ANDY COLELLA’ S RECORD WITH SMOKY HILL GIRLS SOCCER TEAM
2013: 11-3-2* (lost in 2nd round of Class 5A state playoffs); 2012: 12-4-1 (lost in 2nd round of playoffs); 2011: 12-3-2 (lost in 2nd round of playoffs); 2010: 12-5-1 (lost in quarterfinals of playoffs); 2009: 7-7-2 (lost in 1st round of playoffs); 2008: 7-8-1 (lost in 1st round of playoffs)
* — Won Centennial League championship