Drago Ceranic is in his fourth season as a volunteer assistant coach with the University of Iowa soccer program.
In three seasons, Ceranic has helped the program to 30 victories, two NCAA Tournament appearances and the first Big Ten title in school history.
During the 2020 season, Ceranic helped the team to its second straight NCAA Tournament berth. After starting the season slowly, the Hawkeyes were playing their best soccer when matter most — in the postseason.
With an expanded Big Ten postseason schedule due to league-only scheduling because of COVID, the Hawkeyes posted wins over second-seeded Illinois and third-seeded Minnesota in the Big Ten Regional weekend. The team followed with a road win at top-seeded Penn State in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals before downing third-seeded Wisconsin to claim the program’s first-ever Big Ten title.
The win in Happy Valley was the first for the program in school history and the fourth-ranked Nittany Lions were the highest ranked opponent Iowa defeated all-time. Two freshmen — forward Meike Ingles and goalkeeper Macy Enneking — were named the Big Ten Tournament Most Outstanding Offensive and Defensive Players, respectively. Ingles scored three-game winners in the tournament, while Enneking posted two shutouts and made 14 saves.
As a result, the Hawkeyes earned their second straight NCAA Tournament berth, and they continued to make history. Shipped to North Carolina, Iowa tallied a 1-0 victory over Campbell — on the Camels’ home turf — to notch the first NCAA Tournament win in the record books. Iowa had third-seeded UCLA on the ropes in the Round of 32 before surrendering two goals late in a 2-1 defeat.
Iowa finished the season with a 7-9-1 record, but all seven of the victories came in the team’s final 10 games. Enneking was a unanimous Big Ten All-Freshman team honoree. Academically, Iowa matched a school record with 19 Academic All-Big Ten selections, eight Hawkeyes were Big Ten Distinguished Scholars, the program had 31 Dean’s List honorees (in fall and spring semesters), and the program earned the United Soccer Team Academic Award, posting a 3.49 team grade point average.
In 2019, Ceranic helped guide Iowa to one of the best seasons in program history. The Hawkeyes opened the season with nine straight wins en route to a No. 17 national ranking, the highest in program history. Iowa tied a school record, winning 15 games, including seven in Big Ten play, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in program history.
The Hawkeyes tied a school record with three All-Big Ten selections and senior Natalie Winters became the first player in program history to earn postseason recognition in all four seasons. Winters was also an all-region honoree for a second straight season.
Iowa was one of the Big Ten’s most potent offenses, ranking second in the league and 26th nationally, with 46 goals. The Hawkeyes had an NCAA-best 16 different goal scorers in 2019. Defensively, Iowa posted eight shutouts and limited opponents to seven or fewer shots in 13 games.
The Hawkeyes shined academically as Iowa was the only school in the country to have two first-team Academic All-Americans. Iowa also had three United Soccer Academic All-Region and a school-record 19 Academic All-Big Ten selections.
During his first season as a Hawkeye, Ceranic helped the Hawkeyes to an 8-7-3 overall record and a 4-5-2 mark in Big Ten play. Iowa was in Big Ten Tournament contention until the final game, but fell short after battling Northwestern to a 1-1 draw. Junior Natalie Winters was a third-team all-region and third-team All-Big Ten selection — Iowa’s first all-region honoree since 2014.
In the classroom, Iowa earned the United Soccer Team Academic Award for a 12th straight season and the Hawkeyes had two Google Cloud Academic All-Americans — the first two in program history. Kaleigh Haus was a first-team selection; Hannah Drkulec earned second-team honors. Iowa also had 10 players earn Academic All-Big Ten honors, 25 players with a 3.0 GPA or better, 14 Dean’s List, and 4 President’s List honorees during the spring semester.
Ceranic has coached with the Cedar River Soccer Association since 2009 and he has been a part of Iowa’s Olympic Development Program since 2016. With the CRSA, Ceranic helped the team to three Iowa State Cup titles (2013 U16 boys, 2014 U15 girls, and 2014 U17 boys). He also coaches three state runner-up teams.
Ceranic also coached with with Vermont Voltage of the Premier Developmental League (PDL) from 2008-11, he was junior varsity head coach at Linn-Mar (Iowa) High School from 2010-11, and was the junior varsity head coach at Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Xavier High School in 2009.
As a player, Ceranic played collegiately at Mount Mercy (Iowa) University, where he was a four-time All-Midwest Collegiate Conference selection. He was the Mustangs’ Newcomer of the Year in 2006, was team MVP in 2007 and 2008, and was a three-year team captain. Ceranic also was a three-time all-academic selection and was named to the NAIA Champion of Character Team in 2009.
Ceranic played professional soccer for the Voltage from 2008-11, where he was team captain in 2010-11.
The Serbia native graduated from Mount Mercy in 2010 with a degree in multi-media design and communications. He holds his USSF “C” coaching license.