Louisiana Soccer first-year head coach Lance Key announced, on Friday, Feb. 15, the hiring of Stephen Salas as Assistant Soccer Coach and Recruiting Coordinator making Coach Salas, Coach Key’s first new addition to his staff as the program begins to make strides towards the 2019 season.
“Stephen epitomizes the type of human being that every parent would desire their son or daughter to be led by throughout their collegiate experience," said Coach Key. "As we focus forward on building champions, in life, in the classroom, and on the soccer field, he will be integral in facilitating that growth, as he is a champion himself.
“Coach Salas has evolved as a coach under great leadership and mentorship at his previous two stops, and I have great respect for the coaches that poured into him during those tenures. Stephen played an integral role in helping to transform a program into an NCAA Division I Tournament side in his most recent position, which we are aspiring towards here.
“I am confident that Stephen’s influence on our program, institution, and community at-large will be profound. We are very blessed to be adding Stephen.”
Coach Salas has spent the previous six seasons as the Associate Head Women’s Soccer Coach at Abilene Christian. During his time at ACU (2013-18) Salas, who’s specialty was coaching the goalkeepers, was a key part of the coaching staff that helped lead the Wildcats to what was the best season in program history, a 15-6-1 2018 season that saw the Wildcats win its first-ever Southland Conference Championship.
The Wildcats rode their conference championship to a berth in the NCAA Tournament which was not only the first appearance for the soccer program but the first time an ACU athletic program has ever appeared in a NCAA Tournament at the Division I level. During ACU’s historic run to the NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats ripped off seven-straight wins to finish the season, during a stretch where ACU outscored its opponents 15-2.
Prior to his time at ACU, Salas spent six seasons as a player and eventually assistant coach at his alma mater Hardin-Simmons. He was the Cowboys' goalkeeper from 2008 to 2011 and helped his squad win the 2009 American Southwest Conference Tournament and reach the NCAA Championships' Sweet 16 behind an overall record of 12-3-6.
Salas eventually became an assistant and goalkeeping coach on the HSU women’s soccer team, joining the staff prior to the start of the 2011 season, and in two years he helped lead them to 38 wins, a pair of conference regular season and tournament championships, and an appearance in the 2012 NCAA Sweet 16. His goalkeepers also allowed just eight goals (0.36 GAA) in each season and combined for 33 shutouts as HSU extended its regular-season conference unbeaten streak to a NCAA-record 157 matches.
During Salas' two years on the Cowgirls' bench, HSU finished with a No. 12 national ranking in 2011 by the NSCAA, seventh in 2012, and received two NSCAA/adidas team academic awards. The program also produced a national player of the year, five all-Americas, four academic all-Americas, 11 all-region selections and 14 all-conference honorees.
Salas' additional experience includes working at the Texas A&M and University of Texas summer soccer camps and coaching the Region III (girls) Olympic Development Program. He also served as the Director of Coaching, Academy Director, and Head Coach for the Abilene Soccer Club along with being the area director for FC Dallas WTX in Abilene, Texas.
Salas did have a professional career as well, playing two summers for the DFW Tornados of the USL Professional Development League. He received his Bachelor’s of Behavioral Science in Education from Hardin-Simmons in December of 2012.