Strikers unite with balanced attack

Campus Times
September 19, 1997

photo by Summer Herndon

Freshman middle fielder Katie Zwissler takes control of the ball during the first half of the game against the Claremont Athenas. Katie follows in the footsteps of her two older sisters, Jenny and Jacqui, who also played for the women's soccer team last year.

by Danny Eckardt
Staff Writer

The young University of La Verne women's soccer team took to the field last Saturday to defend their impeccable 2-0 record against Southwestern, a competitor who hails from Houston, Texas. The story of this game was not about the score, but rather of how the team has come together.

"We are still in the process of learning each other, but we are inching into cohesion," said head coach Wendy Zwissler.

The Leopards, who use a "midfield game" strategy, sport 12 new freshmen in their balanced attack. The youth of the team answered the question as to why the final score of the Southwestern game read 1-0 in favor of ULV.

"We are very persistent. We don't quit [playing] and they are very coachable young ladies," said coach Zwissler.

The only goal scored in the game came off of freshman Katie Zwissler's foot with 23 minutes left in the second half. In the first half, both teams demonstrated good motion on the field and an ability to drive on their opponent's goal, but neither team found the backside of the goal.

The La Verne score came when sophomore Kathy Bohlman kicked a drop pass to Zwissler, who booted a booming square shot 25 yards into the goal for the eventual 1-0 win.

Katie Zwissler expressed her thoughts regarding the lack of scoring from her teammates, when she said, "We didn't play very strong, because we are new to each other."

Southwestern did give La Verne a scare, in the last 13 seconds of the game, when they attempted a penalty kick, but came up short. The win extended the Leopards' win streak to three games, and a perfect 3-0 record.

Following up the strong win against Southwestern, La Verne hosted a balanced Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team on Wednesday for only the second home game of the season.

Claremont started the game strong on offense, often challenging ULV's freshman goalkeeper Amy Perkins, and scored early with 2:15 on the clock to go ahead 1-0. Although the goal gave the Athenas the lead, the momentum fell back to La Verne as the half progressed.

The Leopards gathered together and with the strong offensive play of freshman mid-fielder Rachel Lieberman and freshman defender Kelly Black, La Verne fired an impressive nine shots on Athena goalkeeper Amanda Swain compared to Claremont's three attempts.

As the first half began winding down, the Leopards got even more fired up and scored two goals in the last eight minutes of the half. The first score came from Lieberman at 22:42 from just inside the goal box, tying the score at 1-1. The second goal came only one minute later at 23:40 from Mejico, putting La Verne on top 2-1 going into the second half.

In the second half the Leopards got the job done on defense as Perkins and her defenders combined to stop eight shots to shut down the tired Claremont offense. La Verne kept things under control as the half progressed and took over the game with sound ball control and a talented front line.

La Verne's offense was not yet finished as time ticked away on the game clock and, with Zwissler's help, Lieberman took a pass near the goal box and scored her second goal of the game at 42:31 to boost the Leopard lead to 3-1.

Things continued to go terribly wrong for the Athenas as the game came to a final close, especially on a play late in the half when a Claremont defender panicked in Claremont's zone and deflected the ball into the CMS goal. The goal put ULV on top 4-1 and insured another win for the Leopards, boosting their undefeated record to 4-0 on the season.

Coach Zwissler, who lead the La Verne women's soccer team to a 10-2 record and a second place finish in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) last year, lost her two older daughters, Jenny and Jacqui, along with Tori Bare, from last year's team to graduation.

The Zwissler twins and Bare brought a strong mid-field game, talent, and leadership to the team, while earning First Team All-SCIAC awards.

"We [the team] had to rebuild our midfield, and we [the team] lost a lot of scoring," said coach Zwissler regarding the loss of her twin daughters and Bare.

Fortunately, this year's young team is "showing great promise" by "asking questions and taking advice," according to coach Zwissler. Katie Zwissler, coach Zwissler's younger daughter , is taking up a lot of responsibility as a team captain in place of her twin sisters and Bare.

Young Zwissler, co holds the position of team captain with teammates senior Amber Hall (First Team All-SCIAC award winner last year), junior Angela Mejico (First Team All-SCIAC award winner last year), and senior Deanna Kodama.

Coach Zwissler expects for her returning players to bring "leadership on and off the field" to the team this year.

"I have been coaching my daughter [Katie] since she was five years old. I don't think I have a major influence on her," insisted coach Zwissler.

No matter how much influence coach Zwissler has over her daughter, the team must be able to come together in order to beat rival Cal Lutheran and those teams who stand in their way.

Cal Lutheran has proven a formidable opponent, because they were the ones who beat La Verne last year to win the SCIAC championship.

"If we can get it together, we can beat them [Cal Lutheran]," said coach Zwissler. "Anyone can beat anyone in this league."

The Leopards play Redlands tomorrow at home, starting at 11 a.m and will play Cal Lutheran in Thousand Oaks on Sept. 24.