Leading Off the Beacons

Shun Hasegawa

The women’s soccer team has opened the 2004 UMB athletics season on Saturday, September 4, against the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. Their first home game is on Tuesday, September 7, against the Eastern Nazarene College. Also this week the team has two more matches at the Clark Athletic Center: one on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. against the St. Joseph’s College, and one on Saturday at 11 a.m. against Fitchburg State College.

Fourth year coach Gretchen Randall and her team began practicing on August 24, and this year have a total of sixteen players, including four returning players and five incoming freshmen. “We had two injuries early on, but they were not crazy injuries. And we are still trying to have better combination and communication with each other now. But I think we are almost ready to play ninety minutes.” Randall described her team’s present condition.

The Beacons try to recover from last year’s 3-16 (0-7 in the Little East Conference) record. Coach Randall explains one of the reasons for the slump: “It was very frustrating that sometimes we didn’t have eleven players to fulfill the field. If you can’t keep the ball at midfield and on the defense line because you have less players than your opponent, it’s difficult to provide many balls for forwards and to score.” Last year, the Beacons was last in standings, goals, and goals allowed.

It might be premature to attribute the Beacons’ struggle as having to do with the players’ level of talent. Even though the LEC is categorized as a division three, opponents never indulge the Beacons in picking up easy wins. The conference includes the Keene State College (that has won the LEC title two years in a row), the Eastern Connecticut State University (a frequent qualifier in the playoffs) and other teams that have a reputation for being tough cookies to crumble.

However, Randall expects her squad to play competitively with the opponents this season, saying “We have a group of players who have some years of experience, both at high school and college level. We have a lot of solid players. They are not super stars. But it doesn’t matter if we are stars or not as long as we play as a team altogether.”

The Beacons are scheduled to play eighteen games in the next two months, with eight of those games at the Clark Athletic Center.

Randall talked of the merits of playing soccer at UMB, saying, “It is good to be in division three. If you play in division one, it’s like a job. But in division three, you can have another life outside school.” As a message to new and returning students, Randall says: “If somebody is interested, just come to watch games, or go directly to my office at Clark Athletic Center to talk about the future.” Coach Randall can be reached at [email protected] or at 617-287-7851.