IVC faces another challenging season

"It isn't whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game" is an old sports adage, maybe outdated in today's "win-at-all-costs" era.

But at Irvine Valley College, women's soccer Coach Simon Davies is old school. He has to be.

The Lasers play in the extremely tough Orange Empire Conference in the competitive Southern California area. So after a year in which his team went 5-16, including 3-13 in the conference, Davies keeps it all in perspective.

Ask Davies how he will turn around the fortunes of his club and he jokes: "Pray harder to the soccer gods."

Kidding aside, Davies finds success outside of the win-loss columns.

"There's not an equal playing field, in our conference in particular," said Davies, in his eighth season leading the program. "There are a couple of teams who are way stronger than everyone else. If you (judge success) on wins and losses, it can be misleading.

"For me, if the team is competitive and we have that feel-good factor at the end of the season, we'll be a success. Don't get me wrong, we want to win, but if you put everything on wins and losses, you might be disappointed."

Two of the conference's top programs are Santiago Canyon, which went 18-1-1 last year, and Cypress College, which went 17-1-3.

To make matters tougher on the Lasers, last year's leading scorer Kristy Krueger has finished her stay at IVC. But they do have three returning starters in Kathryn Moyneur, Stephanie Horwitz and Madison Lamont.

The Lasers lost two of their first three games, but Moyneur has been impressive, scoring three of the team's four goals.

"If she maintains that the rest of the season, she'll be an ideal replacement (for Krueger)," Davies said. "Obviously, as returning players there's a little bit more maturity and you hope they'll set a good example for the incoming players."

Two of the Lasers' top newcomers are goalkeeper Amanda Rashtian from Tesoro High and Amy Marchi from El Toro. In the Lasers' first win of the season, Marchi scored a goal and Rashtian pitched a shutout in a 3-0 win over West L.A.

"Amanda's done really well," Davies said. "She seems to be getting better with every game. She's enthusiastic and has natural ability.

"You've got to have a certain mentality to play goalkeeper, you've got to have a strong personality. She doesn't hide, she's quite vocal and she's not intimidated at all."

While the Lasers have some talent, they'll need to stay healthy to have a chance.

"Last year we had injuries to significant players, and it affected our ability to compete," Davies said. "When we had a full team, we were competitive. But by the end of the season it was a struggle to get 11 players on the field. We had a concussion, ligament damage, broken bones, it was unbelievable, really.

"We never have huge numbers (of players). Some teams have 30-some odd players, but with small schools like us it affects us more because we don't have the depth."

If anyone will be able to figure it out, it's a coach like Davies, who has been involved as a player and coach all over the world. Originally from England, Davies landed as coach at Albion College in Michigan, then coached at UC Davis.

He returned to England where he coached at the University of Greenwich in London before coming back to the States and taking a job at IVC. Besides coaching at IVC, he teaches Nutrition, Sports Psychology and Exercise Psychology.

"My immediate family is still in England, I'm sort of a lone adventurer," Davies said. "I love to teach and I love to coach. This was a fantastic opportunity for me."

IVC opens up Orange Empire Conference play on Tuesday at home (3 p.m.) against defending conference champion Santiago Canyon.

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