Men’s Soccer introduces new coach


Jason Howell

Men's soccer coach Kiki Lara during his introductory press conference on March 10, 2015. Lara has also become the women's soccer coach.

Mark Shanahan, Staff Reporter

The Eastern men’s soccer team announced new head coach Kiki Lara at a press conference yesterday afternoon. Lara is the team’s third head coach in as many years.

He gave special thanks to the search committee, who he said made the best impression on him when he first came to Eastern.

“The search committee (made) me feel very welcome when I was here,” he said. “That’s a big reason why I thought EIU was a good fit for our family. We are big on family. We’re big on making sure that the environment is quality and to me it stood out that the environment is quality.”

Lara is coming to Eastern from the University of Dayton where he had been on the staff since 2009.

He focused on the defensive side of the ball and this past season Dayton had seven shutouts with a goal against average of 0.94 and the team finished with a record of 7-7-5.

Despite focusing more on the defensive side of the ball at Dayton, Lara expects to deal with both sides of the ball as the coach at Eastern.

“I like to focus on both sides of it,” he said. “It’s really a well-rounded game that I will preach, so it’s a team defending game and it’s a high attacking, aggressive, high pressure mentality.”

Lara is from Las Cruces, N.M. and attended the Bollettieri soccer program at the IMG Academy in Florida. He graduated from the University of the Incarnate Word in Texas, and later played four years in the professionals with the Minnesota Thunder and the Portland Timbers.

The new head coach is going to keep high standards and expectations for his team and keep the hard work ethic.

“I read somewhere that EIU is committed to working very hard to make greatness possible and I think for us, you know I don’t think that’s just something you just magically do or I have the magic answers for,” he said. “I think it’s just day-to-day working on keeping the standard high and the expectations very high and having everybody in the program meet those standards.”

He has earned the humanitarian award twice for giving back to his community and in the off-season he volunteer coaches with his mother and brother’s family soccer club, the Las Cruces Strikers.

Lara said he is ready to focus on the process of seeing where his new players are at, but is not calling it a rebuilding process.

“I just want to focus on the process,” he said. “I’m a big believer in the day-to-day, I don’t know if I can come in and say it needs rebuilding or assume that’s the case. I just want to come in and see where the program is at right now and then focus on the day-to-day operations.”

He plans to meet the players at a personal level as the off-season goes along.

“I’ll just have some personal meetings, I’ll observe quite a bit, I’m a big believer in just coming in and seeing what’s here already,” he said. “Run into people, get to know them as human beings. That’s a big part of it. Who are they as people and from there how do we get the most out of them?”

Lara pointed out that loyalty is something that means a lot to him as a person and a coach.

“For me, loyalty is massive, and when I look back on the years working with student-athletes, they’ve all shared a special role in guiding me to who I am as a coach, who I am as a person and so I really look forward to working with this group.”

Lara has the spring and summer to get his team ready for the season, which will begin in the fall.

Mark Shanahan can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].