Lady Ballers Getting Back to Their ‘Grass Roots’

Dylan Kiefer.

Sophomore midfielder Hannah Rosenblum-Wair serves the ball to Mesa's offense.

Steve Trader

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They have made the playoffs seven years in a row. They’ve won two Pacific Coast Conference championships in the past three years and with their fall season under way, they’re anxious for a third.

Think this is the football or baseball teams? These are the soccer ladies of Mesa and this year’s team may be better than ever.

With a 16-5-2 record last season and a disappointing second place finish in conference, the Olympians earned a No. 12 seed in the Southern California Regional playoffs, where they lost to eventual state champions Long Beach City College. But the ladies are back and looking for retribution.

Entering his ninth year at the helm, Head Coach Todd Curran has high aspirations for a squad that includes eight returning players, five of whom made all conference last year.

“Frankly, this might be the most talented team that I have coached,” said Curran.

During the off season, Curran stayed busy recruiting some of the best high school soccer players in the area.

“I’m out there watching these girls play their high school games, their summer soccer club games. . . many of our players were the best on their teams,” he said.

For many of these girls, playing soccer at a community college gives them a great opportunity to get noticed by a major university. In addition to a prestigious soccer program, Mesa offers inexpensive, quality classes and a chance for these girls to continue their education, and Curran is there to keep them focused. “My main goal is to have these kids maintain an A average while playing for me,” said Curran. “Academics are number one.”

Another ideology the ladies maintain is a winning attitude and they seem to be showing it on the field.

After a successful preseason, the Olympians are 4-0 during regular season play. They won the BK Classic tournament earlier this season by dominating rival San Jose West Valley, beating them 3-0. As of Sept. 7, the team was ranked No. 10 in the nation.

“Our whole team has just clicked well, and everyone has a positive attitude,” said team captain Lera Koblischke, a sophomore midfielder.

Staying positive is the key when practicing in 90 degree heat day after day.

“We have a very strict training regiment, and these girls’ fitness levels are extremely high,” said Curran. “It was about 95 degrees for our game against Saddleback College out in Mission Viejo, and we ran them into the ground.”

“Our bench is just as good as our starters,” adds Koblischke. “We’re lucky to have such a talented, hard working team.”

“Aside from talent, the chemistry of this team is just fantastic. I expect big things from these girls,” said Curran.

And it appears that he has this group headed toward something special.

“I’m excited to see how far we’ll go this year,” added Team Captain Anne Sardinha, another sophomore midfielder. “We just take it one game at a time.”

The equation has been formulated. An exceedingly talented group of soccer stars who are familiar with what it takes to win. Add in a veteran coach who is no stranger to success and a second place conference finish in 2005 as motivation. Put it together and what does it equal? A well-balanced soccer team with a state championship goal that may be well within reach and a community college with an exciting fall sports season to look forward to.

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