Review staff writer
Junior forward Rachel Miles suffered from a torn meniscus tissue in her left knee last fall, a season-ending injury that caused her to retreat from the competing realm.
Yet the injury did not stop Miles from staying involved with the sport.
Miles, who was accustomed to former coach Melanie Langley’s soccer techniques, now finds herself having to adjust to a different challenge: learning to play under new head coach Yi Lin Liu, who comes to Linfield after coaching 11 seasons at Hanover College in Indiana.
The ’Cats are still learning the new coaching style of Liu. His focus has changed the group dynamic in more ways than one.
The most publicized change is the shift in attention from defense to offense, but the lesser-known shift in strategy Liu has stressed is that the way to create a winning team is by producing a winning lineup.
“His style has been frustrating,” Miles said. “He makes you play in one spot with a certain group of people. Then he switches it up again. But when things do click, then it’s like, this could work out. This is an option we didn’t have before.”
In a way, Liu’s method may not seem like a completely new paradigm.
He is still finalizing the lineup for the first scrimmage.
“It is kind of scary because we have to have this all figured out by conferences.” Miles said.
As far as college ranking go, Linfield is tied with three other teams for second-to-last place.
The women’s soccer team is scheduled to play at home against Whitworth College on Sept. 20 and Whitman University on Sept. 21, both at noon.
Last year, Whitworth placed second in the league and qualified for the NCAA tournament.
The season is barely underway, and Linfield has things to finalize before they are seen as a competitive threat.
“As a team, we need to work on melding the returners’ style with the newbies’ style to form one cohesive unit,” Miles said. “But that is hard for us returners because we are very set in our ways.”
Senior forward Kelli Gillespie is an experienced leader on the team. During the ’Cats’ last game against Western Oregon University, Gillespie helped set up the game-winning shot.
“With the new coach this year, every single person is on a different page, and so one of our biggest challenges as a team is going to be figuring out how we can come together and buy into the coach’s theories,” Gillespie said. “This means that we are going to have to accept that he has a completely different system than what we are used to. So it is just a matter of learning a new strategy and knowing that it will work.”
She said that the team has been afraid of the strategy not working against their opponents in the conference, but now the team is starting to see that they have enough talent and potential to make it work.
Senior outside midfielder Kate Franklin, a seasoned veteran, knows her way around the soccer field “If you are truly a good player and a good athlete then you should be flexible and able to adapt to any situation, regardless of the lineup,” Franklin said.
Despite worries and anxieties, the team is confident that Liu will do his best to make this season and his debut as head coach a memorable one, leaving a lasting impression on the future of the program.