This past season the USF women’s soccer team dropped six of eight during league play and fourteen out of nineteen overall. After the season, USF sought out a new head coach for the women of Negoesco Field, especially one who had a reputation for mending broken teams. That search culminated in the hiring of two-time Pacific 10 Conference coach of the year, Jim Millinder.
Millinder is no rookie within the coaching ranks. During his tenure as USC’s women’s head coach, he led his side to six consecutive postseasons, including the first in Trojan history, while compiling a cool .645 wining percentage. Much like the current state of the Lady Dons, the maligned Women of Troy were floundering in the Pac-10 prior to Millinder’s arrival. The Lady Dons are looking for their first winning season since 2004 and Coach Millinder believes the surrounding high school talent will bolster his new side. “There is such a wealth of talent within the Bay Area that we can manage to attract to USF,” said Millinder during an interview with the Foghorn, “and when we do, this team will be something special”. A long time professional player and 13-year Division I coach, Millinder knows how to spot, develop, and maintain talent. Some of his notable past recruits include USA National Team standout and 2008 Olympic Gold Metalist Amy Rodriguez and 2008 Honda Award Finalist Kristin Olsen.
Since his hiring on December 23, 2012, Coach has wasted little time in getting to know his team, their abilities, and, most importantly, their limitations. In accordance with the NCAA, the Lady Dons are limited to 8 hours of team practice a week, most of which consists of running and lifting weights. This has given Coach time to asses the teams’ overall athleticism, seeing how fast and how strong his side can be.
Only then, can he start to implement his style of play. According to Coach Millinder, every coach has their own unique approach to the way they think the game of soccer should be played. Much like American football, these styles of play fall into large groups of overarching themes and then breakdown into individual works and become as unique as a particular players skill set. This diversity keeps the game fresh and free-flowing, and Coach plans on evaluating his side further before trying to recreate USF’s style of play.
If there is one advantage in USF’s corner, it is a very young side with a few veterans who have demonstrated both skill and leadership.
With such a young side, Coach Millinder has the ability to introduce his players to a system that, ideally, they will master by the time they are seniors, playing their best soccer at a time when they are most mature. How well the Lady Dons pick up Millinder’s style of play will be crucial to their success because the WCC season is rapidly approaching, and the league is known for consistently being the home of top-tier women’s collegiate soccer. Since the new millennium, three WCC teams have been crowned as the best in the nation. Coach Millinder will not settle for anything less during his tenure at USF. He lives for challenges; obstacles that others would find too daunting to even consider undertaking. Yet he sees something of a slumbering titan in regards to women’s collegiate soccer, and it rests on the Hilltop.