Uncertainty doesn’t dampen soccer team’s spirits

by Marshall McCarty

It’s the offseason for Storm soccer, but that doesn’t mean the players have been taking it easy.

Simpson’s soccer teams have continued their hard work in spite of uncertainties about who will be coaching them next season.

According to some players, assistant coach Cory Chapman will be taking over the women’s program for Aziz Haffar. Others just aren’t sure.

“It’s up in the air,” junior Charlie Peterson said, who is a mid-fielder for the men’s team. “He hasn’t told anyone anything.”

Freshman defender Laura Meihofer was more definitive.

“Aziz is not going to be the coach anymore,” Meihofer said. “Cory Chapman is taking over.”

Haffar was suspended by athletic director John Sirianni near the end of the past season because of an altercation with a referee.

When asked, not one of the players could say if that was a reason for the coaching change.

“I don’t know about that,” Petersen said. “It’s hard to say.”

The players did agree that the future of their teams could be impacted by the uncertainty.

“It could affect recruiting big time,” Petersen said.

Meihofer thought it might have a negative effect on recruiting new players as well.

“Aziz works the most closely with recruits, and is the first person the girls meet,” Meihofer said. “But the program is strong enough to stand on its own, so I’m not too worried.”

Haffar has been coaching both the women’s program since 1996 and the men’s team since 1995. Over that time he has compiled winning records with both the men’s and women’s teams, which places him in the top-40 of all active Division III soccer coaches. Through 10 seasons, Haffar is 127-66-20 as men’s coach. He’s 125-56-6 through nine years at women’s coach. Haffar has also coached both of his teams to conference titles, NCAA tournaments and has won the IIAC Coach of the Year award for both teams as well.

While the teams have had great success under Haffar’s direction, Meihofer sees the change as a positive one for the program.

“[It’s] like a breath of fresh air; all the girls really like [Chapman],” Meihofer said.

The women’s team met recently to discuss their offseason workout, which has changed for the team. The team’s captains have been put in charge of the workouts for this offseason.

“We have ownership,” junior Megan Hauswald said, a defender and one of the four team captains. “We’re really excited because we won’t have to fill out those old boring worksheets.”

Each of the four captains on the team were put in charge of a group of women. To break down cliques that show up in all team settings, the teammates were numbered off randomly.

Each captain led group get-togethers, chose the workouts and decided the times they would work out.

Players said these workouts have been good for the team because they’ve given the teammates a chance to bond. According to Petersen, the transition should be smooth due to the leadership from members of the team.

“[It] hasn’t affected us at all, and shouldn’t anyway, because we have been working out on our own up to this point,” Petersen said. “Team chemistry is fine.”