Women’s Soccer Returns to L&C
When Todd Anckaitis, Lewis & Clark’s new women’s soccer coach, arrived on campus late last summer, he needed to locate goals, nets, balls, ball bags, cones, jerseys—and players.
While the College had previously sponsored a women’s soccer program during the 1970s and 1980s, the varsity program was dropped in 1991 due to a loss of field space. Last spring, Lewis & Clark announced it would field a junior varsity soccer program in fall 2003, with the goal of advancing the program to NCAA Divi-sion III varsity status for the 2004 season.
To drum up a team, Anckaitis scoured the roster of the previous year’s club soccer team, reviewed admissions applications for first-year students who had indicated an interest in the sport, distributed flyers around campus, and then waited for students to arrive for the fall semester.
Top right: During summer 2003, the College installed a new high-tech lighting system in Griswold Stadium to accommodate evening practices and games. Above: Genesis McKiernan-Allen ’06 takes the offensive against the University of Oregon club team. The Pioneers beat the Ducks 3-2.
"I had lots of one-on-one conversations with would-be players," says Anckaitis. "Some prospects worried about keeping up with their academic workload, but I encouraged them to give soccer a try. Often student-athletes do better academically during the sports season, because they’re more focused and their time is more structured."
He didn’t need to work hard to recruit players like sophomore Mihana Diaz. "Most of my teammates and I have been playing soccer since we were little," she says."When I arrived at Lewis & Clark, I was happy to know we had a club team, but I couldn’t believe my luck when I heard women’s soccer would become a varsity sport in 2004!"
By the end of this whirlwind recruitment period, Anckaitis had located 22 players for a season that included 13 games and 2 scrimmages. The team’s record was 3-7-3 against a tough schedule of mostly Division I club programs.
Also during the season, the team volunteered to help with the 2003 Women’s World Cup finals, held in Portland. "It was a wonderful experience for everyone involved," says Anckaitis. "The players not only got a rare, behind-the-scenes glimpse of a world-class soccer event, but they also got to watch six amazing matches from wonderful vantage points in the stadium."
With his first season behind him, Anckaitis has turned his attention to recruiting for next year. His main goal is to get the word out that the program exists.
Alison Evans, a senior and the 2003 team captain, would be glad to provide him with a testimonial. "It turned out to be a great experience and a great year," she says. "I’ll always remember that I had a role in building up the team for its future as a full varsity sport."
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