Keene State's Lyons to retire as women's soccer coach

The Keene Sentinel, N.H.
·3 min read

Apr. 29—Denise Lyons, who followed a record setting career as a player with 29 enormously successful seasons as the Owls' head coach, has announced her intentions to retire at the end of the academic year.

"I have spent the last 35 years at Keene State College as a student-athlete and as the head women's soccer coach. I have so many wonderful memories. Over the years I have had the pleasure of coaching so many talented players," said Lyons. "It has been great keeping in contact with these alumni, attending many of their weddings and watching how they have grown. Thank you all for your continuous support over the years. I am looking forward to retiring early to spend quality time with my mother and siblings who all still live in Ireland."

Following Monday night's season finale against Eastern Connecticut State, Lyons has a career record of 397-183-38 (.672), taking the Owls to the NCAA tournament six times (1992, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2013, and 2014) and winning a combined 10 Little East Conference regular season and tournament championships.

"Denise Lyons has been a stalwart of the Keene State women's soccer program for nearly three decades. As a player, she was one of the finest to wear the Keene State Red and White, and as a coach, she has won nearly 400 games and 10 LEC Championships. The lives she's impacted are too numerous to count, through her alumni, coaching network, and camps," said Keene State Director of Athletics and Recreation Phil Racicot.

Arriving in Keene from Newcastle West, County Limerick, Ireland on a full scholarship, Lyons captained the Irish Women's National Team before embarking on a stellar four year career at Keene State.

She won two ECAC Championships and reached the NCAA Division II Final Four twice, in 1988 and 1989, and the NCAA Championship game in 1989. She also earned All-America honors, at the time just the second person to do so in the history of KSC women's soccer.

Already inducted into the Keene State Hall of Fame for her accomplishments on the field, Lyons took over the Owl program in 1992, immediately taking the Owls to the NCAA tournament in her first season.

When Keene State moved into NCAA Division III and the Little East Conference in 1997, the Owls kept on rolling, including a 2002 season that saw the Owls rank as high as 12th in the nation in the NSCAACoaches Poll, and finish with a perfect 7-0 record in LEC play.

Two years later, the Owls were LEC Champions again, rolling past Eastern Connecticut State, 3-0, in the title game. KSC knocked off Worcester State, 1-0, in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, before bowing out to No. 12 Middlebury.

The Owls returned to the NCAA tournament again in 2013, with a 1-0 win over Eastern Connecticut State in the LEC championship game, going on to beat Haverford in the first round of the tournament and facing eventual national runner-up Williams College in the second round.

The next year, KSC repeated as champions, winning penalty shootouts over WestConn in the semifinals and UMass Boston in the final to become the lowest seeded team to ever win the LEC women's soccer championship.

Lyons has been named Little East Conference Coach of the Year seven times (1997, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2011, 2013, and 2019), and has coached 113 All-LEC Players.