Big changes coming to OSU’s women’s soccer

Jaycee Kalama, News Contributor

Oregon State University’s women’s soccer program is getting a change of leadership as Matt Kagan has taken the position of head coach. Former head coach, Linus Rhode, will not be retained for the 2019 season. 

Kagan comes with a record of success which impressed the hiring committee. He has expressed excitement to take leadership of the team, following a 2-17 overall season under Rhode.  

Oregon State University Vice President and Director of Athletics, Scott Barnes, would not comment on the reason for Rhode’s dismissal.

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“As a matter of university policy, we do not discuss employment-related issues publicly,” Barnes said.

Early in his tenure, Rhode took the program to three NCAA Tournaments and after 11 seasons as the OSU head women’s soccer coach, Rhode compiled a record of 88-110-24. He has contributed eight years to the Beaver’s women’s soccer program in positions as the program’s associate and assistant coach. 

Toni Malone, a third-year psychology major and a captain of the soccer team, expressed gratitude for Rhode’s work as head coach. 

 “Linus has contributed years of his life and energy towards this program. We will forever be thankful for that,” Malone said. 

The women’s soccer team will now be directed by Matt Kagan, the former Mississippi State University head coach, and member of the coaching staff of nine NCAA Tournament teams. Kagan is a decorated coach, as three of the nine NCAA Tournament appearance teams have advanced to the “Sweet 16.” 

Kagan will be the fifth head coach of OSU’s program since the inception of women’s intercollegiate soccer in 1988.

Barnes said in a press release, “We are very excited to welcome Coach Kagan to Beaver Nation.” 

Barnes said that he had heard nothing but praise for Coach Kagan’s attributes in terms of energy, work ethic and his ability to relate to student-athletes from the soccer community.

The committee that hired Kagan seemed to agree. 

“What impressed the committee about Coach Kagan is his proven track record of success on and off the pitch, including consistently being a part of teams that have had academic and postseason success,” Barnes said.

During Kagan’s first season as the MSU head coach, the Bulldogs posted their best record in 16 years, and in 2018 after two seasons were ranked in the top 25 for the first time in school history. In addition, Kagan’s teams have been recognized for academic achievement eight times.

Kagan is an excellent candidate for the position considering his background as a successful soccer coach and student-athlete, as well as his possession of a bachelor’s degree in sports management from Southern New Hampshire University. 

“I want to thank Scott Barnes, Zack Lassiter (Deputy Athletic Director) and the search committee for entrusting me with this amazing opportunity to lead the Oregon State Women’s Soccer program,” Kagan said in a press release. “I can’t wait to get started in the ‘Best College Town in the Pac-12.’”

Looking forward, the team is optimistic in their future, as they are preparing for the 2019 season with new leadership. 

Malone explained that change in leadership can bring a newfound energy to the team. Any sort of change can result in new motivation and a change in mentality that will yield results and overall growth, and any program can benefit from this. 

“We as players had to step up individually. As a team, we have gotten together and decided, early on, how we are going to embrace this change in times of uncertainty.” Malone said. “Whenever there is uncertainty, sometimes the only things you can control is your mentality and how hard you work. We are in off season right now and we have been focusing a lot on our fitness and our psychological mindset.”

Coach Kagan’s goal for the upcoming season is to simply get better every day. 

“I want the team to improve at the tasks they are given and to create a positive team culture,” he said.

Defensively, Kagan is aiming to foster a blue-collar pressing team with creative attacking and the ability to score goals.