As a player, coach and owner, Vince Baldino has enjoyed a long and successful career in the world’s greatest game.
And he’s still going strong.
Vince has been a founder of three successful soccer franchises in the Princeton area of Mercer county – both on the men’s and women’s side.
Born on the Italian island of Ischia in the Bay of Naples, Vince arrived in the U.S. in the late 1960’s to join his parents and younger brothers and sister who had already settled in the Princeton area.
Vince brought his love for soccer with him when he arrived in America, and soon was joining brothers Tony, Ciro and Lou on the Ewing Soccer Club team in the South Jersey Schaefer League.
Within a year Vince had created his own team, based in his new hometown of Princeton. Almost immediately Princeton SC became a major contender in the South Jersey League against the likes of Trenton Italians, German American Kickers and Trenton Extension. Vince not only coached and sponsored the team, but also was responsible for field management, player recruitment and game day operations.
When the American Soccer League looked to New Jersey for a franchise, Vince was immediately contacted by a group of dedicated soccer people to head the group that brought the Penn Jersey Spirit to Mercer County. That franchise lasted for four years, and even when it ceased operation Vince Baldino remained a devoted soccer promoter.
In 1996 he turned his attention to the women’s game and directed a group that brought the New Jersey Wildcats into the USSL Women’s “W” League. After seven years of trying to compete at the highest level of women’s soccer with a team comprised of local college and high school talent, Vince and brother Ciro decided to restructure the Wildcats and brought on Charlie Naimo as coach.
It resulted in the greatest franchise in the history of the Women’s league as the Wildcats ended seven years of losing soccer with a season that saw the team set attendance, scoring and win records. The Wildcats swept to the “W” League Northern Conference title by winning all 14 league matches and setting a scoring record with three international stars from the WUSA on their roster – FIFA all-star Marinette Pichon of France, Kelly Smith of England and Anne Makinen of Finland. U.S. Olympic Team star Heather O’Reilly of East Brunswick also was on the Wildcats roster.
The Wildcats went all the way to the “W” League national championship game in Ottawa, and although it never lost a match all year, finished second after being outscored by Vancouver in a tiebreaker penalty kick shootout for the title.
A successful home builder in the Princeton area for the past 35 years, Vince Baldino has been even more successful in building and supporting great soccer teams. His Wildcats success last summer provided him with his greatest soccer memories.