Changes at the head coach position are never easy. Even at the community college level, where the longest you can play in a program is two years. After six years at the helm, Paul Sapsford has waved his goodbyes, and it’s the Hawks women’s soccer teams turn to go through this turmoil.
Sapsford was a soccer coach at Las Positas for 11-years, and the women’s head coach for six of those. The Englishman was a key element in building the women’s program to what it is today, and under different circumstances that were beyond his control (Camp Fire took away LPC’s home field advantage in the playoffs), he may have had a golden finale.
But a winning ending was not in the cards, and the vast majority of the team now inherited by Sapsford’s successor, Andrew Cumbo (also men’s coach), tasted a sour first round playoff exit after a dominant regular season.
Cumbo is a coach who thrives off conquering challenges, and this season, he is in for a double dose.
In addition to being in charge of a young men’s team, Cumbo now has the task of getting a women’s team filled with sophomores to buy into his system and bounce back after a heartbreak ending to the previous term.
Cumbo has past experience in coaching two teams simultaneously from his stint at Humboldt State, and he believes that he’s still got what it takes to be successful in this role here at LPC.
“I still love coaching soccer and working with collegiate student-athletes,” Cumbo said. “I am an organized person, and I think that helps me. So, after some research and reflection, I thought it was the right thing to step up and coach the women’s soccer team.”
There is always a chance of some growing pains when bringing new ideas into a team that has just won 13 games the previous year, but Cumbo is optimistic and satisfied with how things have gone from pre-season into the early days of the new campaign.
“The team completed the summer pre-season program and made progress. I’m pleased with where they are at right now, in particular with the chemistry and commitment for each other,” Cumbo said.
The women’s team, just like their male counterparts, are experiencing a bumpy start to the season. They are 1-2-1 after four games, but sophomore midfielder, and new No. 10, Araceli Hinojosa, is not discouraged by the rough start, and claims that the mood around the team is very positive.
“The mood is very uplifting,” Hinojosa said. “We are all starting to get a better understanding as a team and of the new playing techniques. And also, all of the games so far have been played in tough conditions (weather exceeding 100 degrees).
The perseverance that is going to help us succeed this season is there though, and we know that all of us together can achieve great things.”
If one thing can be said about teams coached by Cumbo, it is that they never lack in confidence. And that has to be encouraging, particularly in the tougher moments. Cumbo acknowledges that, as well as the desire to improve that is being shown by his new team.
“They are improving on both sides of the ball. Our defense is becoming more disciplined and our possession more effective,” Cumbo said. “And while the team is very competitive, they remain positive and supportive of each other.”
Rome wasn’t built in a day — and the connection between a new coach with a new style and a new team will not be instant either. But Hinojosa believes that the tight bond which the team was able to carry over from last season will eventually shine through, allowing the team to return to winning ways.
“We have a genuine connection and we are always there for each other, on and off the field,” Hinojosa said. “We all know what we can do when we are together as a group, and that will make the playing part become easy again.”