The Golden Years Of Soccer?

Your editor’s letter referred to nearly a dozen sports—everything from raking leaves to football—but omitted soccer. As this shows a lack of knowledge of Reed history, I thought I would write and tell you about soccer and the class of ’77. Please understand that this is a “Reed Story.” While I haven’t intentionally exaggerated, I would be foolish to suppose my recollection is exactly, factually accurate.

Despite having a few standout players, Reed had had a relatively unsuccessful soccer team in the years before my class’ arrival. Still, it played an intercollegiate schedule. I think in my era it was the only sport that did so. I’ll never forget seeing the faces of coach Vincent Panny [German, 1963–84] and captain Rick Wolin ’74 watching tryouts in the fall of 1973, amazed by the sheer number of moderately large, athletic young men who had come out. Several of my classmates moved right into the varsity squad, while others bided their time. In the first two years, we had unprecedented winning records, defeating both Oregon’s and Oregon State’s full varsity teams. By my junior year, UO’s and OSU’s varsity had moved on, although their club teams stayed in our league and were still strong teams.

My senior year, we had a truly fine team, filled with upperclassmen. It starred Dave Alcorta ’77 at central defense and Dave Sterry ’78 at center half. Other stalwarts from my class included Dan Hunter, Chip Brown, and Morgan Paine, though there were many others. John Weber ’78 returned from a year in Germany and led the team in scoring. The strength of the team was defense. We roared through the league schedule undefeated, and were at something like 6-0 having only allowed two goals. That brought us up against our bitter rival Lewis & Clark, also undefeated, and we played to a scintillating 0-0 draw on our home field. My memory is that each team had only one shot on goal as the whole game was played in the middle of the field. 0-0 might seem boring to some, but I assure you it was not boring to those of us in the fray.

We went into the state playoffs with that single draw blemishing a perfect record, but, alas, we had no happy ending. Playing with the wrong cleats on a wet Astroturf surface at Portland’s downtown Metropolitan Stadium, we slipped and slid to a 5-2 defeat at the hands of Willamette, a team we had defeated on their own grass field a month earlier. Even Alcorta got beaten, something some of us hadn’t seen in four years. An annihilation of Southern Oregon College in the third-place game the next day was scant comfort as we watched Lewis & Clark take the state championship.

I can’t say for sure, but I suspect the falls of 1973 through 1976 were the golden era of Reed soccer. Here’s to my fellow teammates Herb Florer ’77, Reid Olson ’77, Scott Foster ’77, Mark Michaud ’78, Keene Satchwell ’78, and especially Bart, who died on Grand Teton over Paideia freshman year. (Sorry if I forgot someone or butchered his name.)

Will Beall ’77

Santa Barbara, California