Women's soccer coach, Lauren Calabrese, talks with Eric Lambinus, who is stepping down from the position. Calabrese was a 2007 Lehigh graduate, and was named assistant coach in 2016. (Lehigh Sports)

Women’s soccer promotes former assistant to head coach


Former women’s soccer assistant head coach Lauren Calabrese has been promoted to head coach for the 2022 season.

After a 12-year-long Lehigh coaching career, former head coach Eric Lambinus has left women’s soccer and accepted a position in Lehigh’s Financial Office. As of Feb. 1, Lambinus is the assistant director of financial aid and coordinator for endowed and sponsored scholarships. 

Sophomore Ava Schaller said the team heard news of the coaching transition from the athletic department at a team-wide meeting on Jan. 24.

“Everyone was shocked. It came out of nowhere,” she said.

Senior Erin Keefe said she was aware of Lambinus’ interest in finance and knew he enrolled in online classes over the years to fulfill a degree.

Having the ability to leverage someone like Lambinus who has an awareness of how college athletics work will only help the department and program, Calabrese said.

Schaller said although Lambinus’ exit came as a surprise to the team, she is excited to see Calabrese take on the new role. 

Calabrese is a Lehigh women’s soccer alum. She was a four-year starter and a Second Team All-Patriot league player for Lehigh during her career from 2003 to 2006. 

Calabrese is fifth in school history with 13 career assists, which included eight as a freshman in 2003.

In the classroom, she was a four-year member of the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll. After graduating Lehigh with a Bachelor of Arts in English, Calabrese went on to earn her Master’s degree in education and English. For the past three years, Calabrese has worked at Lehigh as an adjunct professor in the English Department, teaching research and argument.

Calabrese began her career as head coach of the Mountain Hawks after being the head girls’ varsity soccer coach at Moravian Academy and head coach of the Lehigh Valley United Football Club (FC LVU) Lady Sonics. She has also volunteered for Soccer Without Borders since 2009, and served as volunteer assistant during Lehigh’s 2010 Patriot League Championship season. 

Nine years after she graduated, she was named assistant coach in June 2016. 

Lehigh reached the title game in 2018 with Calabrese on staff. This was the first time since 2010 that the Mountain Hawks secured a seat in the championship.

Calabrese said the head coaching position is predicated off of experience and timing, and she always saw herself stepping into the role at some point in her future.

“You always have to be ready and prepared when opportunities present themselves, ” Calabrese said. “I knew in terms of my development as a professional it was a goal of mine.”

Schaller and Keefe both agree that Calabrese’s experience with the Lehigh soccer team as a collegiate player and the assistant coach will make the transition easy.

“It’s kind of nice to look up to her and see that you can get to where she is if that’s something you want to do one day,” Keefe said.

Schaller and Keefe said the team has responded positively since hearing about Calabrese’s promotion. 

The fact that she has gone through the same experiences as the current player will make it easy to relate to the players, they said.  

Calabrase said that her allegiance to Lehigh and her understanding of the education has allowed her to reach success as a coach. 

She hopes that her thorough understanding of Lehigh soccer will translate into the evolution of the team’s legacy.

Despite some micro-tactical changes, Calabrese said her approach to coaching will remain consistent in her new position. Calabrese emphasizes collaboration and clear standards as essential parts of her coaching philosophy. 

Leveraging institutional campus resources such as sports performance psychologists is important to Calabrese.

“It’s not just about X’s and O’s tactics, it’s about the holistic student aspect of development,” Calabrese said. 

Sleep, mental health and nutrition are all elements of everyday life that influence long term team success beyond just getting on the field, Calabrese said.

The assistant coaching position has not been filled at this point in time. Calabrese said she is still searching for a candidate that will fit the team dynamic.

It’s nice to have coaches on staff with different perspectives, she said.

Girl’s soccer will continue to practice this spring to prepare for their fall season under new coaching leadership.

“It’s an honor to be in this position,” Calabrese said. “I think I am ready for it where I am in my career and I am really excited for the future direction of the program.”

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