A legacy unmatched: Longo retires after 34 years at helm of QND girls soccer program

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Quincy Notre Dame girls soccer coach Mark Longo never endured a losing season during his 34 years at the helm, winning a state-record 608 games. | Matt Schuckman photo

QUINCY — The final sentence in a small paragraph next to the Quincy Notre Dame girls soccer team photo in the school’s yearbook in 1990 may have been the ultimate foreshadowing.

“Another tradition of Raider soccer, at its best, had begun!!” it read.

It became a tradition no other program can match.

The architect of that success — the only head coach the program has ever known — is ready for someone else to build upon its foundation. Mark Longo submitted his resignation Monday, informed his players Tuesday and officially will walk away when this school year ends after a 34-year career.

“It’s something I can look back on and say, ‘Man, that was special. That was something really special,’” Longo said.

Counting stops at Earlville, Winnebago and Ursuline Academy, Longo coached for 43 years in a variety of sports. He won two state championships and four state trophies total as the QND boys golf coach, while capturing three regional titles and one state tournament appearance in seven seasons guiding the QND boys soccer program.

But his legacy as a coach came with the girls soccer program.

During his three-plus decades at the helm, here is what the QND graduate accomplished:

• A career record of 608-109-74;

• Thirty-three consecutive winning seasons (2020 season was lost to the COVID-19 pandemic);

• Six state championships (2010, 2012, 2013, 2017, 2018, 2022);

• Two fourth-place state finishes (2000, 2021);

• Twelve sectional championships and 21 regional championships;

• Fourteen 20-win seasons;

“It’s been a good run,” he said with a smile.

He is the winningest girls soccer coach in Illinois High School Association history.

“Longo is the face of QND girls soccer, and the successes he had year after year are a testament of his dedication to his players and the program,” said Cassidy Foley, a 2014 QND graduate and all-state forward who was one of three sisters to play for Longo

The 65-year-old Longo is retiring as a physical education teacher, something planned and celebrated, but it wasn’t until the Raiders’ season ended last Friday night in the Class 1A SHG Regional championship that he decided the time had come to retire as a coach as well.

The Raiders will return a solid nucleus with sophomore forward Makayla Patton and sophomore midfielders Sage Stratton and Lilly Schuette there to anchor the future.

“There’s talent coming back, too,” Longo said. “The cupboard’s not bare.”

Because of injuries — five players were wearing knee braces by the end of the season with two having undergone surgery during the season — a high volume of underclassmen received significant varsity experience.

“I counted down and we lost more than 100 games with the kids who were injured,” Longo said. “I never played my projected starting lineup once from the beginning of the year. Team chemistry was difficult because we had so many kids playing out of place. We just had to fill people in. But the kids always worked hard and tried their best and gave us everything.”

For 34 years, Longo did the same.

Now, it will be someone else’s turn to keep tradition alive.

“I hope they come in and run with it,” Longo said. “They will get a lot of fun out of it. They’ll get a lot of excitement out of it. A lot of success. It’s something I can say is a truly special experience.”

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