Lady Braves’ struggles in first soccer season may be building block

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 9, 2003

LORMAN &045; Alcorn’s first- year varsity soccer team finished the season 3-11 with one win against the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff and two wins against Copiah-Lincoln Community College.

Coach Peter Rinaldi said he was satisfied with the improvement in skills of individual players, but the team had yet to develop consistent offense or defense against more experienced opponents.

&uot;Teams that had recruited heavily or had years of soccer tradition pounded us pretty regularly,&uot; Rinaldi said. &uot;But that’s not surprising when you consider only three members of our squad had high school soccer experience. Next year we will work on developing team skills so that we rely less on superhuman individual effort and more on coordinated team play.&uot;

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Consistent with the team’s concentration on developing defense, Rinaldi said Alcorn was able to score most often when sweeper Ember Wright came forward on the counter. Stopper Tatum Irving played outstanding defense just about every game, stopping opponents with a rough-and-tumble style of play.

&uot;To my mind, Ember and Tatum were our players of the year,&uot; he said.

The coach said midfielder Christie Chambers gave the Braves offense some needed help and that defenders Rowena Bradley and Elena Chueva played excellent ball.

&uot;Most of our team had never played soccer before,&uot; Rinaldi said.

&uot;But I saw a lot of improvement in many of our women. New players Temika Fant, Shaanaka Johnson, Danielle Posey, Angela Walker. LaToya Bibbins. LaKeisha Dawson and Tinisha Calvin showed remarkable skill growth from the beginning of the season to the end.&uot;

Rinaldi credited Tangela Williams and Veronica Duncan for bringing a little extra experience to the field. &uot;Tangela, Veronica, Rowena, Tatum and Elena all played on the school’s club team last year and they made important contributions to our play.

Goalkeeper Quintiya Miller made dozens of saves as the young defense had a difficult time with more experienced and powerful offensive teams.

The coach also praised Jaquitta Knox, a midfielder who was injured early on and missed most of the games because of her knee injury.

Of the 14-game season, the coach saw six of the games as critical to the success and failure of the team.

&uot;We beat Co-Lin twice and won against Pine Bluff,&uot; Rinaldi said. &uot;But then we gave away games to Texas Southern and Pine Bluff, two games we should have won.&uot;

Rinaldi said he was most proud of his team when they held Southern’s offense to just two goals in an away game.

In the off-season, Rinaldi said the team will recruit some more college and high school players, looking for defenders and midfielders with both defensive and offensive skills.

A soccer camp and spring workouts are likely.

&uot;We’re losing a few seniors, which is sad,&uot; he said. &uot;But the word is getting out that Alcorn is a place for women looking to play soccer in a positive environment. I am confident that we will do better in the coming year. By mid-late season next year, we should be playing soccer that’s very competitive with teams that have been around a longer than us.&uot;