by Greg MacDonald
After posting an overall record of 15-4 last season, the University of La Verne women’s soccer team looks to rely on young talent to improve its mark this season, maybe even gaining a NCAA Division III playoff berth.
La Verne’s 10-2 record in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference last year was second best behind Cal Lutheran, which finished a league-best 12-0.
The Leopards lost eight players due to graduation after last season and will have nine freshman on their 19-player roster. Among those eight graduating seniors were Jenny and Jacqui Zwissler and Tori Bare. All three players were awarded First Team All-SCIAC and Jacqui Zwissler was named the SCIAC Player of the Year. Two returning players, senior Amber Hall and junior Angel Mejico, both were awarded First Team All-SCIAC.
Seniors Kelly Perkins and Deanna Kodama, junior Alicia Raygoza, and sophomores Maria Garcia, Michele Reyes and Kathy Bohlman join Hall and Mejico to give the Leopards an experienced group seeking a SCIAC championship. Freshmen Leslie Wood and Dana Koehler, however, are out for the start of the season with injuries.
Two freshmen, Jennifer Barnes and Amy Perkins, are competing for goal keeper, a position last year filled by alumna Tiffany Hall. Kelly Black and Cara Forrest are the other freshman defenders on the ’97 squad.
“Our soccer team is pretty much all new, so we’re going to have to get to know each other as the year progresses,” said Raygoza. “But there is … talent [on this team] and as soon as we [gel], I know we will win.”
Kodama, midfielder/forward, agrees with Raygoza, “We lost a lot of players last year, so it is going to take a lot of time to rebuild. But we have a lot of new girls who are really good and are showing up (to practice), and I think with a little extra practice, we are going to do great.”
Coach Wendy Zwissler was unavailable for comment due to a recent illness.
The Leopards open the season in Washington state. The first game will be against the Evergreen State Geoducks in Olympia, Wash. on Sept. 9 at 3 p.m. The next day, La Verne will travel to Tacoma, Wash. and play the University of Puget Sound Loggers at 1 p.m.
From Sept. 17 to Oct. 29, La Verne will play 12 SCIAC games, half on the road and the other half at the friendly confines of Ben Hines Field. Some notable non-league games are Oct. 6 against rival Chapman at home and Nov. 1 at UC Santa Cruz.