ABILENE, Texas – Hardin-Simmons’ Director of Athletics Dr. John Neese has selected Lance Key as the new head coach of the women’s soccer program.

“We are excited to welcome Lance Key to the Hardin-Simmons family,” said Neese. “We obviously have seen his coaching ability first hand and we think he will be a great fit to lead our women’s program. He has proven to be a winner at a high level on the field, his student-athletes have performed in the classroom and this is a place where he can live out his deep faith.”  

Key is a familiar name to Hardin-Simmons’ fans as he is the former head coach at Trinity University and helped build the rivalry between the two schools that is one of the top rivalries in the sport. The Tigers went 210-21-16 as head coach at Trinity from 2004-2015. He was the national coach of the year in 2009 and 2013.

When he left Trinity, he ranked second all-time in Division III winning percentage by head coach with an .883 winning percentage.

He left Trinity to go into private business and then he got back in the game as an assistant coach at the University of Texas and then went back to Trinity as an assistant in the men’s program. As an assistant in the men’s program in two different stints both before and after being the women’s head coach, Trinity was 96-6-5 with him on the sideline and he helped the team to the 2003 NCAA Championship.

He has spent the last three seasons as the head coach at the University of Louisiana. He went 25-27-6 in three seasons with Ragin’ Cajuns. He took over the program that won two games in the year prior to has arrival and turned them into a 9-8-3 team his first season. They were better in the COVID-19 2020-21 season goings 9-5-1, setting school records for shutouts (10) and goals against average (1.18). UL went 6-10-3 in 2021. 

Key led his team to 11 NCAA Division III Women’s Soccer Championship Tournaments and coached 21 All-America student-athletes on the pitch while at Trinity. He also had 27 Scholar All-Americans.

He was a standout player in his career at Trinity from 1996-99, earning three All-American honors. He was drafted by the Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer and played from 2000-2001 before retiring because of injuries. He was the SCAC player of the year as a senior and was inducted into Trinity University’s Athletic Hall of Fame as part of its 2015 class.

He has received multiple coaching certifications and diplomas from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA). He also served on the NSCAA Women’s Soccer Advocacy Council in 2016.

In addition to his work at Trinity, Key previously served as an assistant with the San Antonio Scorpions of the North American Soccer League (NASL) in 2014, as the director of Trinity Soccer Academy from 2004-16 and the Director of Training at the Classics Elite Soccer Academy (CESA) from 2002-08. He has also been a broadcast analyst for Fox Sports’ coverage of San Antonio Football Club broadcasts since 2017.

He and his wife Natalie, have two daughters, Ava and Ela, and a son, Judah. Key earned a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Trinity in 2000.

Statement From New Head Coach Lance Key

The women’s soccer program at Hardin-Simmons is among the most successful vehicles for the education of 18-22 year old female soccer players in the United States at any level. 

Winning is not accidental, and Cowgirl soccer has consistently won big, on the field, in the classroom and in the development of character, all on the foundation of the Word of God.

My story with HSU soccer began as a 25-year-old in 2004 during my first season as a head coach, just two years removed from playing.  It began on opposite touch lines from someone whom I would come to experience the fiercest of competitions, the deepest of respect, the most significant of lessons, and ultimately the best of friendships with, Marcus Wood.

Becoming the next Head Coach at Hardin-Simmons University is an incredible honor and the tallest of tasks. One I could never have expected nor predicted and one I am so incredibly excited about. 

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Mr. Eric Bruntmyer, Dr. John Neese, and Dr. Chris McNair for their collective leadership, prayer, and belief in me to step into this role.  I would also like to thank the incredible student-athletes that I have been blessed to coach throughout the last 20 years.  You have taught me more about soccer, life, and relationship than I could ever repay you for, and I’m so thankful for all you have given, for your grace, and for your passion.

My family and I have engaged in much prayer leading up to this opportunity, and we believe that our Heavenly Father has not only opened this door for us, but He is also walking us through it, all in His perfect timing.

To the young women of Cowgirl Soccer, both past and present, I admire you deeply, and know first-hand what it takes to achieve the greatness you have previously attained, sometimes at my expense!  I am committed to upholding the standards that have been set and sustained by you all for the last two decades, and intent on advancing the cause in pursuit of excellence in every area of our lives, and all for the Glory of God.

I look forward to building authentic relationships within this storied program, on campus, and within the incredible Abilene community.  The value in life isn’t just in our experience, but in who we are blessed to share those experiences with.