The U.S. field hockey teams remain about a goal behind and a coach short of their major international competition on the way to the 1988 Olympics.
For the women's team, coming off a bronze medal in 1984, the task is to integrate talented but inexperienced, young players into the program in time for the 1986 World Cup. The team was in the hands of Beth Anders, the scoring star of the 1984 Games and a national team member for 10 years, and team officials were praising her progressive and popular takeover when she abruptly resigned in early July. She apparently felt the national federation wasn't spending enough money directly on the team.
The national federation is hurriedly searching for a replacement.
The men's team, which lost all six Olympic games in 1984 but insisted all along it was building for 1988, finds itself reloading and in an uncertain phase.
Olympic Coach Gavin Featherstone, who vowed to stay with his young team through 1988--"I'd be a fool to set the groundwork and then not stick around for the glory," he said after the Olympics--apparently clashed with the team's executive board over his emphasis on defense and bowed out.
The board is expected to scout the remaining candidates during the Sports Festival and make a decision in September.
The board's goals for the team are just that--goals. Team officials were frustrated with the team's lack of scoring during the Olympics and were dismayed when the team continued to show no offense in a recent international tournament, though several Olympians didn't play.
With fewer qualifying tournaments for 1988, both teams feel some pressure. The women feel they have a representative team, which includes three holdovers from 1984, but they also feel they must place in the top four in the 1986 World Cup in Vancouver to be one of the eight Olympic teams. Defending champ The Netherlands and host South Korea automatically qualify.
The team's main hurdle appears to be inexperience. The 1984 team had 12 holdovers from 1980, including four players 32 or older. The average age on the new national team is 23. The only Olympians remaining are Sheryl Johnson, Beth Beglin and Marcy Place.
Under Anders, the women recently completed a tour of The Netherlands, beating only the Canada under-21 team, 1-0. The women lost twice to The Netherlands, 2-1 and 3-0; lost to Australia, 2-1, and to West Germany, 5-0. The men's team recently lost an International Cup qualifier to Canada in which 10 of the 16 American Olympians played. The executive board is galled that the Americans remain a goal behind Canada. Thus, the search for a new coach and new direction in preparation for the 1987 Pan American Games in Indianapolis.
Team captain Manzar Iqbal and sweeper Drew Stone, probably the best U.S. players last year, remain on the squad, but their current jobs keep them on the East Coast.
Three of the four Sports Festival men's teams will be comprised of Californians, and teen-agers such as Mohammad Barakat and Alvin Pagan remain the focus of plans for 1988.
Pakistan is the defending men's gold medalist and an automatic qualifier.