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Team Searching for Players, Identity

SMALL COLLEGES / MICHAEL ITAGAKI

September 27, 1997|MICHAEL ITAGAKI

The Concordia women's soccer team struggled to an 0-6 start in its inaugural season, but that might be the least of Coach Jeff Wells' problems.

Things were so bad that even some basketball players tried to help. Dinah Shah, a reserve guard on a women's basketball scholarship at Concordia, played in two games before returning to basketball full-time.

"Dinah hadn't played much soccer, but she has good speed and she's real athletic," Wells said. "We're so thin that now we have seven or eight players on the team that have little or no previous soccer experience."

Wells, who worked as an assistant women's soccer coach at Central Washington and coached the Bolsa Grande girls' team last season, was hired in March and got a late start on recruiting.

Then he needed to do some on-campus recruiting for the team after watching three of his starters sustain severe knee injuries in the team's first five games.

And he has had to deal with all of the logistical and administrative hurdles that confront a first-year program.

"We're searching for an identity," Wells said. "We went from a team that I thought might have a shot at competing for second place in conference to a team that just wants to have fun and enjoys being out here."

Forward Joanne Bahr, a freshman, and sophomore Meghann Hickey each suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in Game 2 of the season, a 2-0 loss to the The Master's.

Three games later, midfielder Jessica Allen, from Irvine Valley College, also tore an ACL at Chico State.

And sophomore midfielder Faith St. Jean, who Wells planned to use as a key reserve, injured her knee and has been out since the first week of practice.

Concordia was outscored, 35-1, in the first six games before rebounding with a 7-1 victory over Pacific Christian on Sept. 17.

Wells said that game has boosted his team's spirits.

Now, he has to continue to blend his neophyte soccer players with the higher-caliber ones, such as senior transfers Elizabeth Ortiz (Humboldt State) and Sarah Strauss (Concordia, Wis.), and highly touted freshmen Regina Harrison (Laguna Hills High) and Michelle Phillips (Murrieta High).

"We're improving and we'll be competitive with some of the teams in conference," Wells said.

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