Kiely leaving Westmont for soccer position at Arkansas

Westmont women’s soccer coach Kristi Kiely has stepped down after five seasons to accept a position as an assistant coach at the University of Arkansas, Westmont announced on Thursday.

Kiely maintained Westmont’s tradition of success in women’s soccer. She posted a record of 65-25-10 (.693) and took the Warriors to the NAIA National Tournament the last four years. They were national runners-up in 2014.

Kristi Kiely took Westmont to four straight NAIA National Tournaments and reached the finals in 2014.

Kristi Kiely took Westmont to four straight NAIA National Tournaments and reached the finals in 2014.

“Coach Kiely’s accomplishments on the field in her five years are considerable, but she will be remembered more by me for what she accomplished relationally in the lives of our student-athletes and how she created an amazing culture,” Westmont Athletic Director Dave Odell said. “The young women she recruited to our institution are leaders and fit nicely into the overall mission of the school. Her team consistently led our athletic program in team GPA and also found the time to give back to our community.”

Kiely’s association with Westmont began in 2001 when then Kristi Peich started all 19 games as a freshman. During her four years as a player, Kiely was a part of three national championship team (2001, 2002, 2003).

As coach, Kiely was named the 2014 Golden State Athletic Conference Coach of the Year after the Warriors claimed a share of the GSAC regular season championship and won the GSAC Tournament. Under Kiely’s watch, 12 Warriors have been named NAIA All-Americans and 20 have earned All-GSAC honors. Academically, her players have been recognized as NAIA and GSAC Scholar-Athletes on 15 occasions and four times have been honored as CoSIDA Academic All-Americans. She has also led her team on two mission trips to Africa, visiting Kenya and Uganda.

Kiely said her decision to leave Westmont has not been an easy one.

“Westmont is and always will be home,” she said. “That’s really the best way to describe what Westmont means to me. I have been here for the better part of 15 years. My best, deepest friendships were forged here. I met my husband here; my daughter was born into this community. Westmont took a chance on me when I joined the soccer team as a 17-year-old, again when they asked me to be the assistant to Dave Wolf as a 24-year-old, and again when I was named head coach at 26.”

She added: “Any growth or any success I’ve had spiritually, personally and professionally is due in large part to this community. Professors, coaches, staff at all levels of the college, alumni of all ages — from my players who just graduated to those on Westmont’s first soccer team like Cliff Lundberg — have created a community the likes of which I’ve never experienced. I get looks of disbelief and amazement when I get the chance to testify to its power — which is often as recruiting is a large part of coaching.

“That’s what makes leaving so hard. We truly feel like we’re leaving home. Westmont’s mission is to create faithful, thoughtful, global leaders. I am a product of that mission and hope to continue that mission in a new community in Arkansas.”

At Arkansas, a member of the Southeastern Conference, she’ll work under Colby Hale, who has taken the Razorbacks to the NCAA Tournament two straight years. They lost in the second round to Stanford this past season.

Westmont has already begun a nationwide search for Kiely’s successor.

“Our women’s soccer team has generated some great momentum and it is a strong program with a bright future,” said Odell. “We have a wonderful group of returning players for next year and I intend to find them another great coach in the coming weeks.”

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