By Bryan Stauffer
After reaching the NCAA tournament for only the third time in program history in 2012, the Cal Poly Pomona women’s soccer team aspires to earn back-to-back berths in the national tournament for the first time ever this fall.
The Broncos return the core of their 2012 squad, led by fourth-year playmakers Samantha Stiles, Kristin Mihara and Sarah Rohman, but they are without former head coach Isabelle Harvey, who returned to coach CCAA foe Cal State Los Angeles after spending the last seven years at CPP.
Taking over for Harvey is the former Kansas Wesleyan Director of Soccer Programs and men and women’s soccer head coach Mike Dibbini. Dibbini compiled a combined coaching record of 244-65-25 in eight seasons while capturing 12 regular season titles and 12 tournament titles for the Coyotes.
The Broncos are 4-2 (2-2) in action so far in 2013 and, based on what he has seen up to this point, Dibbini is pleased with their comradery and willingness to get better day in and day out.
“I think the chemistry on this team is huge,” said Dibbini. “The cohesiveness they already have has made my job a lot easier. They’re eager to learn and they are hungry to play.”
The Broncos’ strongpoint this season switches from the offensive side of the ball to the defensive side, with two of their top three goal scorers from a year ago no longer on the team.
“We’re very good defensively as a team,” said Dibbini. “We’re just trying to work out the kinks [on offense] and figure out how to attack and create more chances for ourselves.”
Fourth-year defender Kristin Mihara, who started all 17 games and was named to the All-CCAA Second Team in 2012, will be relied on to head the defensive efforts of the Broncos this fall.
“We want to do the best we can and get further than we did last year,” said Mihara. “All of the hard work that we are doing now, hopefully, is going to pay off and get us to that next level that we didn’t get to last year.”
The Broncos’ lone senior forward this year is Stiles, the leading goal scorer from a year ago. Due to the lack of seniority and experience up front on this year’s squad, Stiles knows just how valuable it is for the seniors to step up and be team leaders.
“If we don’t have good leadership, our team can be somewhat lost without it,” said Stiles. “I think the better the leadership, hopefully, the better the success we have.”
Following their 1-0 overtime victory against Chico State on Sunday, the Broncos will have a two-game homestand against Sonoma State on Friday and Humboldt State on Sunday.
Nathan Guerard/The Poly Post
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