Newark product Pedro Lopes became NJIT's ninth men's soccer head coach in July 2003, having previously spent seven seasons as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Rutgers.
Assisting longtime head coach Bob Reasso, Lopes was involved in every aspect of leading Rutgers' national-level program. At NJIT, he has tapped that experience in building the Highlanders. Under Lopes' leadership, the Highlander program evolved to compete at the top level of the college game. Indeed, the 2005 Highlanders took on eventual NCAA Division I national champion Maryland just two years after competing in Division II during Lopes' first season at the helm.
With Lopes at the helm, NJIT men's soccer has been the vanguard of a transition that will see the entire athletic program advance to NCAA Division I championship eligibility --a level reached by men's soccer in 2005.
Under his steady hand, the growth of the Highlanders was apparent in 2005, as the team earned much-improved results, setting a school record with five ties, including one against Stony Brook, which would go on to win a game in the NCAA Division I College Cup championship field. Between 2004, NJIT's first season against Division I competition, and 2005, the Highlanders made dramatic strides, cutting their goals allowed total by more than half and also improving their offensive goals total. In 2006, the Highlanders again improved their season wins total from the previous year. On top of that, NJIT was 2-3-1 in league play, remaining in contention for the postseason Atlantic Soccer Conference tournament heading into the final weekend. Only a hard-fought 1-0 road loss at eventual champion Adelphi kept NJIT from its first Division I postseason play. At season's end, the Highlanders had improved their defensive stats again, yielding 28 goals in 2006, down slightly from 30 in 2005.
Lopes began coaching as a volunteer assistant at Rutgers in 1995, and then spent one season with Centenary (NJ) College before returning to the Scarlet Knights as a full-time assistant coach. He is also the Coaching Director for the Jersey Knights Soccer Club.
An integral part of championship teams his whole life as a player, Lopes was an All-American at Rutgers in both 1993 and 1994 and a two-time recipient of the Bob McNulty Award as team Most Valuable Player. He played in four NCAA Tournaments, including two Final Four appearances, with a national runner-up finish in 1990. He was Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year in 1994, when Rutgers advanced to the Final Four for the third time in five seasons. In all four of his seasons, the Scarlet Knights won the A-10 championship and appeared in the NCAA Tournament. Rutgers was the national runner-up in 1990. He scored the game-winning goal in the 1993 Atlantic 10 Championship game and started all 86 games in his collegiate career. Not surprisingly, he was inducted into the Rutgers Olympic Hall of Fame class of 2004.
Lopes was a member of the United States U-23 National Team in 1993 and 1994 and he later played professionally with the NJ Imperials. Before college, Lopes was a High School All-American and New Jersey Player of the Year at perennial nation power St. Benedict's Prep in Newark.
Pedro and his wife, Heather, were married in June 2006 and they reside in North Brunswick, NJ. The couple is expecting its first child in October 2007.