Head coach Kieren Raney watches during a boys soccer game between Archbishop Murphy and Arlington at Arlington High School on Monday, April 15, 2024 in Arlington, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Head coach Kieren Raney watches during a boys soccer game between Archbishop Murphy and Arlington at Arlington High School on Monday, April 15, 2024 in Arlington, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

How the Raney family became synonymous with soccer in Snohomish County

Over three generations, the family has made a name for itself — on the field and the sidelines — both locally and beyond.

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The Raney family, through its nonprofit organization Adventure Soccer, is helping vulnerable kids, both across Washington and in Africa. To read more, visit The Herald’s website.

Aidan Raney has created his own footprints at Arlington High.

He’s dribbled the basketball across the gymnasium floor, kicked field goals under the lights at John C. Larson Stadium and spent four years on the varsity soccer team. His time as an Eagle concludes with the end of the Arlington boys soccer season.

But while Raney will no longer make footprints at Arlington, one thing will never be erased: his name.

The Raney family is synonymous with Snohomish County soccer, with decades upon decades of soccer accomplishments, not only in the county but across Washington.

The family soccer tree

The Raney family name has been prominent in the Pacific Northwest for generations.

Aidan’s grandfather, Pat, coached at O’Dea High School for more than 40 years, leading the Fighting Irish to 14 Metro League titles, including a AA state championship in 1990. Among the players he coached was future Seattle Sounders defender DeAndre Yedlin. In May of 2013, Yedlin and the Sounders organization awarded Pat the Joe Roth Golden Scarf.

Aidan’s uncle, Bruce, was a member of the Seattle Pacific University men’s soccer team that won its first national championship in 1978. He also set the program’s all-time scoring record of 68 goals.

Aidan’s father, Matt, was a high school state champion as both a player and coach. He played for his father, Pat, on the ‘90 O’Dea squad. He then had a long run as an assistant and head coach at Snohomish, where he helped the Panthers win three state championships from 2004-20.

“Matt came in and helped me to continue that culture,” said Dan Pingrey, who was Snohomish’s head coach throughout Matt’s tenure as an assistant. “It was all about the expectations we had for our C team, our JV team and setting the tone … really trying to mentor and teach those young players what their expectations were, so as they became captains … they were running that show and setting those standards that we developed over many, many years.”

Matt succeeded Pingrey as head coach in 2017, and in his first year he took the Panthers to the Class 3A state championship game. He also won a district title in 2018.

Matt had three sons who played at Snohomish: Kieren, Connor and Liam. Kieren’s group (2010-13) made three out of four state appearances, placing fourth in the Class 4A tournament in 2013. Connor’s team (2013-16) won Class 4A state championships in 2014 and 2015, then finished fourth in 2016. And Liam’s squad (2017-20) finished second in the Class 3A state tournament in 2017 and lost in the quarterfinals in 2018.

Raney minds think alike

Kieren followed in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps by taking a high school head-coaching position at Arlington in 2019. A couple of years later, Matt left Snohomish to be an assistant under Kieren where the two have helped lead the Eagles from being a bottom-tier program to a Wesco 3A/2A contender.

“It’s never fun to go toe to toe when you’re the head coach of Snohomish and (Kieren’s) the head coach at Arlington,” Matt said. “Rather than battling against each other, we joined forces to go to battle together. … I don’t see it as ‘I’m mentoring, or I’m leading him.’ … (Kieren’s) taking the lead. I’m following. And I get to figure out the best way to make him the best coach he can be and his program the best program in Snohomish County.”

Kieren played in Wesco, so he knew the skill set required to be successful not only in the league, but also in the state. Gathering a group of boys, enhancing their skills and producing results was his new objective.

“I remember jumping at (the job opening) not necessarily because I knew much about Arlington, but more so it was an opportunity to stay in Wesco and grow something,” Kieren said. “Arlington had traditionally struggled. And I saw the roster. It was full of potential, and I felt like, ‘I’m going to try my own thing. If I can’t coach a relatively OK team to be good, how can I take a good team and make them great?’ And Arlington took a chance on me being pretty young, and now we’re seeing the progression of that.”

Arlington has never placed at state, with its furthest progression being the quarterfinals in 1981, 1986 and 1988. From 2013-18 Arlington’s record was 31-74-13 overall and 22-59-10 in league play. But since 2019 the Eagles are 53-41-8 overall and 47-37-2 in league.

“(Matt) understood the importance of getting a team to work harder if they had a mission to buy into, but they also felt relational in that aspect,” Kieren said. “And that is something that I have instilled, wanting to know players, their families and what makes them tick.

“I didn’t step away (from being an assistant at Snohomish) out of any place of, ‘I can’t work under my dad.’ I can still be working under my dad. I love how he does things,” Kieren continued. “My systems, structures and defensive nature are some things he taught me, but I elaborated on those and dug even deeper. … He laid the foundation, with the extent of what I’ve built on top of that is different.”

After years of Raney family achievements, to say there was pressure on Aidan to succeed would be an understatement. But Aidan didn’t feel the weight. He made sure his four years at Arlington were his own.

“Just seeing (my brothers) when I was young and aspiring to be just like them really fueled that and made me want to play and get into the sport,” Aidan said. “I get to set my own legacy here, and I get to go against all their past: the coaches that have coached Snohomish or anywhere else.

“It’s fun to just be around them and get to see them as family members, dad and brothers, but also as coaches, head coaches, assistant coaches, goalkeeper coaches,” Aidan continued. “It’s fun to see them in their zone and us be able to push each other because I don’t think it’s just them pushing me, I’m pushing them to be a better coach. And this whole team is just fun to be around, and I think we can go places with it.”

Working as a facilitator for local players

For the past few years Kieren has diversified his coaching portfolio outside of Arlington.

From 2021-23, Kieren coached the Everett Community College men’s team to two NWAC quarterfinals and one semifinal appearance. In 2022, the Trojans tied their program record for most wins in a single season, and in 2023 they tied their record for fewest losses in a single season.

Kieren also did a one-year stint with the Snohomish County Football Club Steelheads and currently serves as the collegiate recruiter for Snohomish Sky FC.

“I wholeheartedly believe that Snohomish County produces phenomenal ball players. The quantity of that has gone down, but the caliber has almost even gone up,” Kieren said. “The progression is there. We just needed somebody to connect all the dots. … There isn’t a player that goes through Wesco that I don’t see. And I make sure that I, at the very least, connect with them and progress them if they don’t have an option (after high school).”

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