Lenoir-Rhyne University

Lenoir-Rhyne University Athletics
625 7th Avenue NE Hickory, NC 28603
Division 2 North Carolina Southeast
Private Small National competitor


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Dean Ward

Dean Ward was named the Women's Soccer Head Coach on April 22, 2022. Ward comes to LR from the University of Dayton where he has been the assistant coach and recruiting coordinator since 2017.

Ward helped the Flyers earn Atlantic-10 Tournament berths in every season he was with the program and helped develop seven A-10 Conference Rookie team players. Additionally, Ward coached seven players to all A-10 Conference selections and seven to the all A-10 Academic Team. Alexis Kiehl was named A-10 Offensive Player of the Year in 2017-18 with Itala Gemelli picking up the A-10 Rookie of the Year in 2020-21 and the league's Player of the Year in 2021.

Prior to arriving at Dayton, Ward served on staff at the University of Tennessee under head coach Brian Pensky for five years. While on staff, the Volunteers compiled a 50-36-16 record including three 10+ win seasons. Ward assisted in recruiting classes touted as No. 3 (2015) and No. 11 (2014) in the nation.

Ward also had a stint at Loyola Marymount University for the 2011 season and enjoyed success at Marymount College (NAIA) as the head coach, leading the Mariners to The Peace Cup Championship in his first season. He served as an assistant coach for both the men's program and the women's program for two years before taking over as the head coach for the women's program in 2010.

Ward also coached in youth soccer as a Director of Player Development for Manhattan Beach Sand & Surf Soccer Club in Los Angeles, CA and coach of FC Alliance ECNL teams based in Knoxville, TN. Ward served as an assistant coach in 2015 with the USYS Region III ODP team and served as a regional staff coach for Region III in 2014 and 2015.

Ward takes over a program fresh off its first-ever Final Four appearance and the highest national ranking in program history (No. 4). LR has won seven SAC regular-season championships since 2010 and made eight NCAA Tournaments in that span.

A native of Birmingham, England, Ward graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2006 with a bachelor's degree in sport science with coaching and exercise science. Ward holds an NSCAA Premier coaching diploma and NSCAA National Goalkeeping Diploma.

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Zandy Soree

Head Women’s Soccer Coach Dean Ward has announced the hiring of Zandy Soree as the program’s assistant coach. Soree comes to Hickory after a standout career at the University of Central Florida and a stint in the 2021-22 UEFA Women’s Champions League.

"I am excited to have Zandy join the LR family, her knowledge of the game will be a huge asset to the program and in particular our players,” said Ward. “Zandy has an intelligent soccer mind having been around high level environments at the collegiate, professional and international level along with working under some of the best coaches in the country. Zandy’s soccer resume speaks for itself but more importantly she is a wonderful human being. Her ability to relate and connect with our student-athletes will be invaluable and I have no doubt she’ll prove to be a fantastic addition to the LR program.”

At UCF, Soree earned Second Team All-Conference honors as a senior and netted three game-winning goals including the winner against No. 22 SMU. She also earned a spot on the American Athletic Conference All-Rookie Team in 2016. In her four years with the Knights, Soree played in 67 matches and finished with 14 goals and 11 assists, including a career-high seven goals and 16 points as a senior.

Following her collegiate playing career, Soree signed a contract with the Orlando Pride of the NWSL in 2020 and also spent some time on trial with the Houston Dash.

In September 2021, Soree joined Breioablike of the Icelandic Urvalsdeild and competed in the UEFA Women’s Champions League group stage. Soree played in all six games.

Soree’s from Weston, Fla. And went to American Heritage HS prior to enrolling at UCF.

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