2022 was a season of a fantastic tournament run and a milestone reached by a head coach with an already amazing array of accolades.
The tournament run of the Lynchburg-Clay Mustangs girls soccer team, coached by Dennis West, ended Tuesday, Nov. 8 with a loss in the Division III State semifinals.
Cincinnati Country Day defeated Lynchburg-Clay, 4-0.
The Mustangs began their tournament run with a 9-0 win over Chesapeake.
That win, coming on Oct. 19, was the 500th in West’s long, highly successful career.
On Oct. 24, Lynchburg-Clay defeated Albany Alexander, 7-1.
On Oct. 27, the Mustangs won the District championship, 1-0 over Winchester Eastern.
In the Regional semifinals, Lynchburg-Clay defeated North Adams, 1-0.
It was 1-0 win over Grandview Heights that earned the Mustangs a Regional championship and a place in the State Final Four.
He now has 504 coaching victories, all coming at Lynchburg-Clay High School.
West, 70, coached the Mustang boys soccer team for 19 seasons from 1999 to 2017. Over the course of those seasons, he amassed a record of 207-100-33. His teams won the SHAC during nine of those seasons, with five of those seasons ending undefeated in league play. The Mustangs enjoyed a 35-game winning streak in league play during West’s tenure.
He was a nine-time SHAC Coach of the Year, won 15 Sectional Championships, coached two SHAC Player of the Year winners and 59 members of the All-SHAC team. West also coached 27 First team and 60 Second team/Honorable Mention All-Southeast District players throughout his tenure, as well as eight All-Ohio players and one NSCAA Scholar All-American. He was voted Southeast District Coach of the Year in 2003 and was the 2017 recipient of the Ron Pinsenschaum Award.
Coach West is currently in his 21st season as the head coach of the Lady Mustangs soccer team as he began coaching them in 2002. This means that from 2002 to 2017, West coached both the boys and girls simultaneously. While his tenure as the coach of the boys was extremely impressive, his resume as the coach of the girls is even more astounding.
West currently has a record of 297-80-34 as the head coach of the Lady Mustangs, good enough for ninth all-time in wins in the OHSAA record book for girls soccer. During his time with the Lady Mustangs, they have won 12 SHAC championships, finishing undefeated in league play 10 times. He currently has an 86-game unbeaten streak in league play dating back to 2010.
West has been named SHAC Coach of the Year 10 times, has won 21 Sectional Championships, 10 District Championships, and two Regional Championships. He has coached four SHAC Player of the Year winners and 77 All-SHAC players, along with 42 First team and 74 Second team/Honorable Mention All-Southeast District players. Coach west has also coached 11 Southeast District Player of the Year winners, 16 All-Ohio players, and three NSCAA Scholar All-Americans.
He has been named Southeast District Coach of the Year seven times, earning honors in 2005, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017. He was also named Ohio Division III Coach of the Year in 2015. Coach West was the recipient of the 2015 Kim Mahoney Award and the 2018 2018 OHSAA Southeast District Sportsmanship, Ethics, and Integrity Award.
Coach Dennis West currently has a career record of 504-170-67 as a head varsity soccer coach, with all of those wins while at Lynchburg-Clay.
“I follow all of the schools in the tri-county area,” West said. “I keep track of the league that (Miami) Trace and (Washington) Court House are in. We played Court House in a Shawnee State shoot-out back in the end of July.”
For the boys team at Lynchburg-Clay, one of the advantages of not having a football team is that the best athletes tend to play soccer, West noted.
“It’s either volleyball or soccer for the girls, and some cross country,” West said. “We have girls who run cross country and play soccer, too. That’s not a problem. Or golf and soccer both.
“Chris Tipton is still helping me,” West said. “When I took the boys’ job, I was at a baseball game watching one of my sons play. I got a call from the principal then here at the high school, and he asked me if I’d be interested in coaching the boys’ soccer team.
“The knowledge of soccer that I had (came) from watching my kids play in youth soccer up through junior high,” West said. “I had no illusions that I knew the game very well. I told the principal I would take the job on one condition; that is if Chris Tipton comes in as my co-coach. I said, ‘we’ll split the check right down the middle.’ I said, ‘he knows soccer. He bleeds soccer.’
“So, he came aboard and he stayed with me with the boys, up until his oldest daughter got involved in youth soccer,” West said. “His youngest daughter is a senior this year. She’s been a tremendous player for us. Chris stayed with me for a number of years.
“He left, then he came back and he’s been with me with the girls’ program now for quite a few years,” West said. “On the girls’ side, in 2002, that job came open and Daryl Mount, who’s a minister at the Pricetown Church of Christ now, I’d gone to school with Daryl, he’s two years younger than I am. He and I took the girls’ job and it worked out really well.
“We hit a stretch starting in 2011 where we have gone undefeated in the league nine times,” West said. “During that stretch we were the only team to win the gold ball. We may have come in second twice, but we beat the teams that were undefeated. We kind of say, ‘the gold ball either goes to us or it doesn’t go to anybody.’
“Our undefeated streak in the league goes back to 2010,” West said. “We have been tied, I think, six times.”
Of the boys’ program, West said, “The last five years that I coached and the first five that Jason (West, Coach West’s son) has coached, they’ve never finished anywhere but first place.
“We’ve been very fortunate,” West said. “We’ve had great athletes. Our parents are unbelieveable. I bet I could count on my hand the number of away games that we have had where we didn’t outnumber the home team’s fans and I’m including Sectional, District, Regional, you name it. We just have a tremendous following with our parents and grandparents and alumni. It’s unbelieveable.
“It’s just been a fun place to coach,” West said. “You get support, period.”
Despite the years-long domination by the Mustangs of the Southern Hills Athletic Conference, there is no animosity apparent, according to West.
“Jacob Alexander up at Fairfield is a great young coach,” West said. “He’s done some pretty terrific things, coaching both boys and girls. He started out a couple of years ago. He’s been doing some really good stuff up there.
“I enjoy working with the other coaches,” West said. “We do stuff. We communicate with each other and give advice and seek advice. You just have to support one another.
“Soccer can put its hooks into you,” West said. “(When) I first took this job, I had no intention of coaching beyond the four years that my youngest son was in the program. Then, he graduated and I thought, ‘well, I’ll go another year.’ My wife has even given up asking if I’m going to coach again. It’s always, well, one more year. Now it’s 24 years later and here we are.
“When I say this might be it, I get younger players on the team, ‘no, coach (wait) until I graduate,’” West said. “Next year, I’m going to have my only granddaughter coming into the program.
“I’ve got two girls in this year’s senior class whose fathers I coached when I first started,” West said. “Ryan Van Fleet was a soccer player who came into the program the same year as my youngest son and I’ve got two of his daughters, one is an all-league sophomore and the other should have been an all-league senior. They’ve been just playing great soccer. I’ve been around long enough that I’m getting the daughters of some of the ones I had when I started.”