Former University of Evansville great Mick Lyon will be the first-ever women’s soccer coach inducted into the Missouri Valley Conference Athletics Hall of Fame, the league announced on Friday.
Lyon, a native of Lincolnshire, England, coached the Purple Aces women from the inception of the program in 1993 until 2001. He becomes the second women’s soccer selection to be inducted into the MVC Athletics Hall of Fame, joining his former player – Krissy Meek-Engelbrecht.
“I am flabbergasted, it is such an honor to be voted into the Missouri Valley Conference Hall of Fame,” Lyon said. “It was great to see Krissy (Meek-Engelbrecht) get inducted a few years ago and cannot believe that this has happened to me.”
He became the first women’s soccer coach in Evansville history in 1993 and had unprecedented success after the Valley started women’s soccer in 1996. Between 1996 and 2001, he won nine Missouri Valley Conference championships, including four regular-season and five tournament titles. Lyon won at least one regular-season or conference championship in every season he was a part of the Valley.
“When we moved into the Valley, we stormed our way in and established ourselves as the premier program,” Lyon explained. “In our first year, we worked out a few kinks and did great against Creighton in our first conference championship game. I was so proud to be at the University of Evansville and to work with those girls. To do it in the MVC - a top notch conference - was really special.”
In six seasons in the Valley, he led his squads to an overall mark of 82-37-10. In MVC play, his teams went an unbelievable 28-3-3 and never lost more than one conference match in a season. Lyon earned MVC Coach of the Year honors in 1996, 1997 and 2000, and his players earned nine postseason conference awards including four Player of the Year selections.
“Part of coaching is recruiting, my assistants and I worked really hard to get great players and they gelled so well,” he said. “We did a really good job of bringing in those girls and to get them to believe just how special they were. They believed that and took off. We had a total belief that we were special and that is how we marched out every time.”
After his success coaching at Evansville, he went on to become the head coach at Indiana University for 11 seasons (2002-2012). Lyon’s top season with the Hoosiers came in 2007 when they advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament. In his 20 years as a collegiate head coach, Lyon amassed 202 wins, before announcing his retirement in November 2012.
He and his wife, Elizabeth, who both have multiple sclerosis, remain active in raising awareness and support for individual with the disease. Before Lyon’s coaching career at Evansville, he was a Purple Aces’ men’s soccer player from 1985-87, leading UE to the Final Four in 1985. He was a three-time team MVP as a player and being named the 1987 Midwestern Collegiate Conference Player of the Year and a Second Team All-American. Lyon was also an assistant men’s soccer coach under Fred Schmalz before accepting the women’s position.
“I was working for Coach Schmalz as his assistant and enjoyed that tremendously. When the women’s position was announced, my wife said to apply. I did and that first year (1993) was rough, but we survived and we kept it moving. The University of Evansville really supported the program and it enabled me to quickly gain ground on other teams and march our way forward.”
Lyon’s legacy at UE and in the city of Evansville continues to live on in a big way today. Two of his pupils – Krista McKendree and Meek-Engelbrecht – coach the top collegiate soccer programs in the area. McKendree has led a turnaround with the Aces since becoming head coach in 2008. Meek-Engelbrecht has been the head coach at USI for over a decade.
“I am so proud of Krista. She is my All-American and I could not be more proud to have someone like her run the program. I talk with her frequently and support her as much as I can; it is really special to have someone like her in that position,” Lyon said. “The same is the case for Krissy at USI – she is a rock solid coach. It is really rewarding to know that I was instrumental in helping them learn the game and be even better at teaching the game. It puts a smile on my face watching them coach and have success.”
Other representatives of the University of Evansville in the MVC Athletics Hall of Fame include: Meek-Engelbrecht, Fred Schmalz, Jim Byers and Arad McCutchan.
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