After a short hiatus from the University of Tampa, Gerry Lucey has returned to coach the women’s soccer team. Lucey leaves West Chester University (Pa.) after posting a 23-1 record. The only loss came in double overtime against Metro State University (Co.) in the Final Four.
“I’m delighted to be back here,” said Lucey. “It has always been a dream to be a coach here at UT. I didn’t think the opportunity would come so quickly.”
Lucey replaces Bobby Johnston, who has taken a position at his alma mater, James Madison University (Va.).
Johnston took Tampa to the Final Four in 2006, going deeper into the playoffs than any coach in UT history. For his accomplishments, Johnston was named the NSCAA South Region Coach of the Year.
“The team is in good shape,” said Lucey. “We only lost three starters and we have a lot of talent coming back as well as a number of talented freshmen and transfer students. We have more depth now than last year.”
Lucey served as an assistant at Tampa from 2004 to 2005, reaching the NCAA round of 16 each year. In 2004, the Spartans won the Sunshine State Conference championship tournament, and won the regular season title in 2005. Tampa won both in 2006.
“The SSC is still a tough conference, “said Lucey. “There are no real easy games. If you don’t come prepared then you’re always in for a battle. There’s a huge bullseye on our jerseys and we have to approach each game equally.”
Lucey’s familiarity with the senior members of the Spartans women’s soccer squad will be key to his success this year.
“Gerry was our assistant for two years in 2004 and 2005 so he knows most of us pretty well,” said senior Nicole Murphy. “His coaching philosophies are very similar to Bobby [Johnston]’s. I know that he is a good coach, not only from personal experience, but also he did bring his team from West Chester to the final 4 last year as the only undefeated team there”
Murphy, Katie Callahan, Shannon Aitken and Shelby Kuni were key players named by Lucey. He expects these players to step up and lead the younger, less experienced Spartans this season.
Aitken was a second team All-American and Kuni was named to the third team.
“This team needs to be as focused as they were last season,” said Lucey. “I want to make sure they have the confidence in themselves and the individual ability to take a step past what we did last year.”
The Spartans have set their goals above a return to the Final Four in 2007. While 2006 was a great success, the loss to Grand Valley State left them wanting more.
“He has been around the game both coaching and playing for many years,” said Murphy. “Along with his knowledge of the game and of his players, I feel that he will definitely help us get back to the Final Four and hopefully go one step further.”