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Built on experience and drive, Louisiana’s new soccer head coach gives his thoughts on his team

soccer against Georgia state

Freshman Telly Vunipola kicks the ball towards the goal as the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns take on the Georgia State Panthers on October 21, 2018.

Since its start, the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns soccer program has had three head coaches in its history, and, hired in December of 2018, Lance Key is the newly announced head coach for the 2019 season.

The announcement was made by Bryan Maggard, the director of athletics for the Ragin’ Cajuns. He seemed excited to see what Key had to offer:

“Lance will bring excellent experience as a head coach and a former soccer player at both the collegiate and professional levels,” Maggard said. “His commitment to developing and mentoring young women is unprecedented, and he will greatly support our efforts to compete for and win championships in the Sun Belt Conference.”

Like Maggard stated, Coach Key’s previous experience is already impressive. He coached Trinity University in San Antonio Texas from 2004-2016, winning 83% of the games.

He possesses the third-ranked all-time winning percentage across NCAA Divisions I, II or III, both men's and women's side. He has received multiple coaching certifications and diplomas from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) and was even named national coach of the year two times during his tenure.

All that experience was great coming in for the Cajuns, who started their season on Aug. 22. Though they started off shaky in their first two games, they eventually got a tied game before winning their past two games.

Louisiana is now on a two-game winning streak after winning their game against Southern on Thursday, Sept. 5.

Coach Key already has the capability to produce a winning team, and after interviewing him on Thursday, it is evident he also has the drive and faith in his players.

Coach Key expressed his thoughts on his team after the win on Thursday.

“I think preparation really had a lot to do with game management,” Key said. “Understanding the situation, where we were, and managing making good decisions, whether it was with the ball without the ball.”

He also added that good communication and his players believing in their knowledge of the game contributed to the win.

He mentioned some of the players were asking about hypothetical situations leading up to the game, but Coach Key had an answer for that as well.

“You know I just told them, most of these guys have been playing the game for 12,13,14,15 years; they have plenty of experience to draw on,” Key said. “They just have to believe in their decision-making process.”

With the season just getting started, Coach Key gave his opinion on players to look out for.

“I think on the defensive side of things, we’re going to have to rely heavily on the leadership of our goalkeeper Mackenzie Lee, who’s a senior,” Key said.

Another player to look out for is a sophomore defender.

“Gwen Mummert, who’s playing the middle of our backline, is a savvy player; she’s smart,” Key added. “We’re trying to encourage her to believe in her ability to play the game at a high level.”

On the offensive end, he mentioned sophomore forward Skyla Skyes:

“And then up front, Skyla has been on fire the last few games. She was hurt the whole first weekend, and she came out last weekend in Chicago, got the game-winner on Saturday and got another one tonight.”

Looking forward, Key talked about any improvements he wanted to see.

“I think tonight we were in possession a lot” Key said. “Within that, there were a few spells where I thought we lost a little bit of our discipline, a little bit of our organization. So we have to continue to stay on the front edge of the game and make sure that we continue to attack, and also when we’re attacking take those chances better.”

Louisiana plays their next game on Wednesday, Sept. 11, in Lafayette against Nicholls State.

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