Michael Linenberger, a four-time conference Coach of the Year honoree, enters his 31st season at the helm of Sacramento State Men's Soccer in 2019. Under Linenberger's tutelage there have been 105 all-Conference honorees with 23 first team selections, five NCAA All-Far West Region selections, one MPSF Player of the Year, one Big West co-Midfielder of the Year, one Big West co-Freshman of the Year, and he has watched 37 of his former players go on to professional soccer careers. His 2014 Big West Coach of the Year honor was his fourth Coach of the Year award after earning the accolade three times in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF).
This past offseason, Lineneberger and his 1986 national championship Duke team was inducted into the North Carolina Hall of Fame at a ceremony in January 2019. One of the team's captains in 29186, Linenberger was invited to speak to the roughly 350 guests in attendance at the ceremony.
In 2018, Linenberger oversaw the addition of a large and talented young class to his squad and picked up three all-conference nominations despite the team struggling on the field. Benji Kikanovic was named the Big West's co-Freshman of the Year, the first since the program joined the Big West in 2012. Fellow freshman Oscar Govea was selected to the all-Freshman team with senior captain Dominic Scotti earned Honorable Mention.
In 2017, Linenberger led the Hornets to their second straight Big West Tournament, making it the first time since the program joined the Big West that they have appeared in consecutive tournaments. Overall, the Hornets finished the 2017 season with a 8-9-2 record, including a 4-4-2 mark in conference play. Sacramento State had six players selected to all-conference teams, including two to the first team all-Big West, two to the second team, and two to the freshman all-Big West team. In addition, Paul Geyer (first team) was named the Big West's co-Midfielder of the Year.
Linenberger took the program to new heights in 2016, finishing second in the Big West North division, hosting a Big West Tournament game, and winning a Big West postseason game all for the first time. The Hornets beat UC Riverside 2-1 to advance to the conference semifinals and played CSUN to a scoreless draw in the semifinals but was edged by the Matadors, 6-5, in penalty kicks to narrowly miss out on hosting the conference title game.
The Hornets finished the 2016 season with a 9-8-3 overall record and had seven players earn all-Big West honors with four second team selections, one honorable mention, and two named to the all-Freshman team. The Hornets had not received more than three all-Big West honors in a year through their first four seasons in the conference while the total number of all-conference honorees was also the most for the program since 2009.
Sacramento State had a player named to the all-Big West Freshman team for the third consecutive year in 2015, with forward Brad Bumgarner earning the accolade, and had two players named all-Big West Honorable Mention. In January of 2016 Linenberger took his team on a trip to Costa Rica, where the squad posted a 2-1-1 record facing reserves from some of the top professional teams in the country.
The 2014 Hornets qualified for the Big West Tournament for the first time with a three-win improvement over the 2013 season. Picked to finish last in the preseason Big West Coaches' poll, the Hornets finished ahead of Cal Poly to play in the first round of the league tournament. Senior forward Chimdum Mez was an all-Big West first team selection while Andrew Gosselin was honorable mention and Paul Geyer made the all-Freshman team. Mez was subsequently selected by the San Jose Earthquakes in the fourth round of the 2015 MLS Super Draft.
After moving Sacramento State into Div. I in 1991 and the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation in 1992, Linenberger once again guided his team into a new and exciting era in 2012. The Hornets joined the Big West North Division and finished third with an 8-8-2 overall record and a 5-4-1 Big West mark, finishing just shy of a qualifying spot for the Big West Championship. The team garnered four All-Big West honors, including first-team selections for seniors Matt Linenberger and Casey Bernard.
Linenberger and the Hornets moved into the Big West after a run of unprecedented success in the MPSF. The long-time head coach helped the Hornets to back-to-back MPSF Tournament titles and NCAA Tournament first-round wins in 2009 and 2010. He was named the MPSF Coach of the Year in 2009 after winning the regular season championship as well. Linenberger was also the MPSF Coach of the Year in 2001 after guiding the Hornets to their first MPSF regular season title.
Linenberger began his coaching career with the Hornets as an assistant in 1988 and became co-head coach in 1989 before taking sole control of the program in 1992. He has accumulated a record of 197-286-61 as a head coach.
In 2011 the Hornets finished third in the MPSF and second in the Coastal Division before falling in the MPSF Tournament. Sacramento State posted a 9-8-2 overall record with a 5-4-1 mark in conference play in 2011. It was the Hornets' third straight winning record after tallying a winning margin just twice in their previous 18 years in Div. I.
The Hornets set a school record with seven draws in 2010 during the regular season but turned on the offense in the MPSF conference tournament. Sacramento State scored 11 goals in three conference postseason games with a 6-2 win over No. 5 seed Air Force in the quarterfinals, a 3-1 defeat of No. 1 seed Denver in the semifinals and a 2-1 ovetime win over No. 2 seed Cal State Bakersfield in the championship match. The team continued to roll in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Soccer Championships, with a 2-1 win against Santa Clara before falling at UCLA in the second round.
Chris Bettencourt scored five goals, with two game-winners, in the five postseason games. Senior midfielder Ernesto Carranza, who was became the first-ever Hornet invited to the Major League Soccer (MLS) combine after the 2010 season, had 12 points in five postseason games, including a six point performance against Air Force.