After five years of heading the women's soccer program, Maren Rojas has stepped down from her position as head coach. She recently accepted an assistant coach position on the Boston College women's soccer team, and left for Massachusetts on Wednesday. Nonetheless, Rojas attributes her decision to leave to more than just the offer from Boston College.

"I've been in a nine-year long-distance relationship, and it was just time for us to settle down, buy a house, and actually live in the same state," said Rojas.

"We had been talking about it, the potential of trying to move towards one another," she said, referring to her longtime partner. Rojas has known the head coach at Boston College over almost two decades, and she said that the offer "jumped in my lap." She added, "It became sort of a family decision for us."

According to Ward, the offer from Boston College and Rojas' decision to accept occurred within the past month. Since Rojas had no plans to leave until the offer, her announcement at a team meeting two weeks ago came unexpectedly.

"It was such a shock to all of us, but it's the best decision for her," said soccer player Celeste Swain '12. "I think it will all work out for the best. Change is always good for a program. I won't be here next year, but I think the team will do really well."

Before Bowdoin, Rojas coached at James Madison, Syracuse and the University of Virginia. In her five years here, Rojas accumulated a record of 39-30-10. The team attended the NESCAC tournament every year under her leadership and earned a spot in the NCAA tournament in 2007 during her first season. Director of Athletics Jeff Ward praised Rojas' commitment to the program and to the College.

"I think that she's in many ways exactly what we look for as a coach. She's passionate about soccer and passionate about her students, and has connected with this institution in a lot of ways," he said.

After her successful first season in 2007, Rojas recruited this year's seniors from across the nation. Swain said that she would not have come to Bowdoin if it weren't for Rojas' dedicated search.

"I'm from California, and I had no idea what Bowdoin was until she recruited me, so she's literally the reason why I'm here. That's the first thing I thought of when she told us she was leaving, that she was the one who brought me here. I was really sad to see her go," said Swain.

Swain served as a co-captain for the 2011 season along with Kelly Pope '12 and Ellery Gould '12. This season, Gould was named one of the two NESCAC Players of the Year, received All-NESCAC for the fourth year in a row, and served as the team's top scorer during her four seasons.

She credited Rojas for her guidance as a coach and mentor throughout the past four years.

"She demands and expects a lot of her players. She's the type of coach you want to play hard for, she just demands that respect," said Gould. "It's been really great to work with her through the years, and meet with her to talk about my individual goals and what I need to do personally to improve."

Rojas's influence was not only limited to athletics at Bowdoin, as she spent a lot of time with the Outing Club as well. She ran the winter mountaineering program, was very involved in planning pre-orientation trips, and brought her "avid passion for climbing mountains in the winter" to the program, explained Assistant Director of the Outing Club Devin Farkas.

"It seems like a lot of people did winter stuff with the Outing Club because of her," he said. "She's a riot on the trail."

The athletics department has begun the process of looking for Rojas' replacement. The department aims to have a new coach hired by "sometime in April," according to Ward.