The word first comes up many times when you talk about the career of Carl Rees, who enters his 18th season as the head coach of the Fairfield University soccer program. And every one of those firsts represents a positive benchmark for the Stags.

He was the first Fairfield University coach to win an NCAA tournament game when he led his team to a 2-1 win over the University of Connecticut in the 2006 edition. He was the first men’s soccer coach to garner a post-season berth, a number which now stands at four berths including the 1999, 2006, 2008, and 2011 NCAA tournaments.

Fairfield played the University of Illinois-Chicago in the 1999 play-in round, dropping a 1-0 decision. The Stags fared better in the 2006 tourney as they picked up a road win against UConn before falling to Towson University in the second round. In 2008, an own goal was the difference in the team’s match up with UConn as the Huskies hung on for a 1-0 first-round win. The team advanced to the NCAA tournament for the fourth time under Rees in 2011, as the Stags dropped a 3-2 decision to Brown on the road.

Rees was responsible for another first when he led the 1998 team captured the program’s first-ever national ranking. The Stags secured the number 24 position in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) top-25 poll. It would be the first of six seasons in which Rees led his team to a national ranking.