For the first time, the Chapman College women's soccer team is winning a majority of its matches and is ranked among the top 10 NCAA Division II teams in the West, and that makes Coach Gregg Murphy happy.
"We're a private institution without any scholarship money and I can't believe how competitive we are," Murphy said.
The Panthers (4-3 after a 5-0 loss to UC Irvine), who are ranked No. 8 in the latest Division II West Region poll, started the season 3-0. They are led by midfielder Tiffiny Drobnik, a junior who was a second-team all-West Region selection last year, and senior fullback Leslie Page. Chapman was 7-11-2 last year, the closest the Panthers have come to a winning record in the five seasons they have fielded a team.
"Every year we are more and more competitive," Murphy said. "And this year we have a bunch of newcomers coming in and we're starting to do really well."
Of the six freshmen and transfers who have contributed, Murphy said, freshman midfielder Charlotte Strachen from Richland, Wash., stands out.
Add coach: Murphy, a 1985 Chapman graduate in his third season as coach of the women's soccer team, is in his first as coach of the men's team. Coaching both teams required a grueling schedule for Murphy before the season. He held three practices for each team, and many days he stayed on the field from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. When he set up the schedules, he tried to arrange as many doubleheaders as possible.
Only four of the current 19 players were on last year's 6-12-3 team, and Murphy is thankful Chapman is at least fielding a team. The men started the season 1-4-1.
"I see improvement every day with these guys," he said. "When I took the job, I didn't even know if we were going to be able to field a team this year. That was my main goal."
Murphy, who was a three-time all-conference selection when he played soccer for the Panthers, accepted a full-time postion to coach both teams this past spring.
"When I took the job I thought I would love to be a part of putting Chapman back on the soccer map like it was six years ago when I was here," Murphy said. "And we have a new athletic director (Dave Currey), so I'm very optimistic that that can happen."
A longshot: The odds might be longer than the chances of Chapman defeating Louisiana State in men's basketball this year, but the first person to make a hole-in-one on a specific hole at the golf tournament benefiting Chapman's athletic foundation, will be richly rewarded.
Anyone who aces the eighth hole at the Newport Beach Country Club will receive $10,000; if it happens on the 17th, the prize is the use of a new Honda automobile.
There are still tickets available ($250 each) for the Oct. 8 scramble-format tournament, which will raise money for the college's athletic scholarship fund. Each fivesome will include a Chapman-affiliated "celebrity." There also will be a tennis tournament for a $125 fee, which, like the fee for golf, includes lunch, an awards dinner and auctions for tickets to the Rose and Super bowls.
College Division Notes
The Christ College Irvine men's soccer team continues to struggle, losing Tuesday to Cal Lutheran, 4-2, and dropping its record to 1-6. But junior Aaron Clausen leads the National Assn. of Intercollegiate Athletics District 3 in goals (seven) and shots on goal (37). . . . Miriam Paulus, who had 14 kills in Christ College's four-game victory over The Master's College Tuesday, leads the Golden State Athletic Conference in attack percentage with 59.5%.