In mid-December, the West Virginia athletics world was a bit shocked by the resignation of Marlon LeBlanc as head men’s soccer coach. On Monday, Jan. 20, Shane Lyons announced he has tapped Dan Stratford to be the 10th head coach in the program’s history.
This was a no-duh hire for Lyons. Stratford comes from the reigning NCAA Division II champion University of Charleston. There, he compiled a 61-4-5 record in three years, including national titles in 2017 and 2019. The Golden Eagles won three regular-season conference championships and two tournament titles under his leadership. The London, England, native is a two-time United Soccer Coaches Division II Coach of the Year winner (2017 and 2019) and was named the 2017 Mountain East Conference Coach of the Year (all sports).
Stratford donned the old gold and blue as a player from 2004-07, reaching three NCAA tournaments, and an assistant coach from 2011-13. He knows the challenges of a coaching transition, as he played through the change-over from Mike Seabolt to LeBlanc in 2006.
“I am happy to welcome Dan back to his alma mater. After an outstanding collegiate and pro career, he has established himself as one of the bright and up-and-coming coaches in collegiate soccer,” Lyons said, in the release. “Winning two National Championships at the University of Charleston speaks for itself, and I believe Dan will bring momentum to Morgantown and continue to strengthen our men’s soccer program.”
This hire seems to be the perfect choice to replace LeBlanc. Stratford is a Mountaineer, played professionally in the U.S., Scotland and England and proven to be a successful coach. He holds the program record for career appearances (85) and was an All-Big East and All-Region honoree in 2007. Moreover, his dedication to soccer in the Mountain State will continue LeBlanc’s legacy of improving the youth game in West Virginia.
Stratford also holds a UEFA ‘B’ coaching license and earned a bachelor’s in physical education teacher education (2009) and a master’s (2015) from WVU.