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Aaran Lines steps down as Western New York Flash head coach

For the first time, the Western New York Flash will have a new head coaching patrolling its sideline.

On Tuesday morning, the team announced that Aaran "Kiwi" Lines has stepped down from his role after seven seasons, which were highlighted by three championship trophies from three different leagues. The former New Zealand international will remain a part of the Flash's administration, a release indicates, as well as continuing his role at Sahlen Sports Park and within the Flash Academy.

The Flash play in the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL), the highest level of women's soccer in the United States.

Here's the full release:

The Western New York Flash announced today that Aaran Lines has stepped down as the club’s head coach, effective immediately. Lines departs the Flash as one of the most decorated coaches in women’s soccer, having been at the helm since the team’s foundation in 2008.

“It has been an incredible journey building this club, from the ground up, into one of the most successful franchises in the women's game. It's been an honor to represent the club and bring home three trophies in three different leagues,” Lines said.

“Youth and women’s soccer are becoming increasingly popular in the US, and we are lucky enough to be a part of it. As the Flash, Sahlen Sports Park and the WNY Flash Academy continue to grow, it is time that I fully-focus on the operations of these three entities. Though I am sad to step away as head coach, I am excited to continue building the Flash, Sahlen Sports Park and the Flash Academy into three top-class soccer entities in Western New York.”

Over his seven-year coaching tenure, Lines guided Western New York to three-consecutive league championships, winning the 2010 W-League, 2011 WPS and 2012 WPSL-Elite titles. After winning the 2013 NWSL Shield with the best regular-season record, the Flash hosted the 2013 NWSL Championship at Sahlen’s Stadium, falling 2-0 to Portland Thorns FC.

A native of New Zealand, Lines helped the small-market team become one of the most successful franchises in women’s soccer, in part through the talent recruited to the Elma-based club. Many world-renowned players have been a part of Lines’ system, including the world’s all-time goal scorer Abby Wambach, 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Golden Ball winner Carli Lloyd, five-time FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year Marta, 12-time Canada Player of the Year Christine Sinclair and U.S. Women’s National Team superstar Alex Morgan.

Morgan, Marta and Sinclair were a part of the Flash’s star-studded 2011 WPS Championship team, which led to Lines’ earning his second-consecutive FieldTurf Coach of the Year award.

“I have taken great pride in what we have accomplished as a club over the last seven years. Three championships and a regular-season title within that time is an incredible feat and I will hold those memories close to me,” Lines added. “A big thank you first and foremost to the WNY Flash for the opportunity they have given me, to the first class players who I have worked with over the years and to the great fans of the Western New York area for their endless support.”

Lines will continue in his positions with both Sahlen Sports Park and the Flash Academy, and will remain within the Flash management.

The search for a new head coach will begin immediately.

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