CHAMPAIGN – For a first head coaching job, it couldn't get much better for Tricia Taliaferro.
"It's ideal," said Taliaferro, named Illinois' soccer coach Wednesday. She succeeds Jillian Ellis, who is accepting a similar position at another Division I school.
"I've been here for two years, started the team with Jill, brought in the recruits. She knew I wanted to be a head coach. She involved me in every aspect of the program.
"I definitely have an advantage. I've been here from the beginning. Our philosophy's the same, the players know me, the administration knows me."
Taliaferro was Ellis' assistant for the first two years of the UI program. She said she was "kind of shocked" to receive such an opportunity at this point, but her goal was always a head coaching job.
That it will come at Illinois, which boasts the return of a young but experienced squad, only makes the transition easier for her.
"We (Ellis and herself) ran very much parallel to each other. That was one reason that interested me in Illinois in the first place," Taliaferro said. "The players are excited about it, they know it's going to maintain (consistency) and it's not going to be a drastic change."
Taliaferro, 26, was a four-year starter at Maryland – she played against U.S. soccer star Mia Hamm during her freshman year – from 1992 to '95. She helped lead the Terrapins to the best season in school history (18-6) and a first-ever NCAA tournament berth.
Taliaferro is a U.S. Soccer Federation-licensed coach who also holds a national youth license. She came to the UI from the Soccer Academy, Inc. in Manassas, Va., where she was a senior instructor. At the Soccer Academy, Taliaferro traveled the country teaching players at clinics in preparation for the Olympic development programs. She also traveled to England and Scotland, where she served as an assistant coach for the George Mason program.
She is the daughter of former UI quarterback Mike Taliaferro, who led the Illini to the 1963 Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl appearance. He later spent nine years in the NFL with the New York Jets, Boston Patriots and Buffalo Bills.
Ellis did not return phone messages seeking comment.