It is a hot summer day in Ortmayer Stadium. Coach Lauryn Pehanich is enthusiastically motivating the women’s soccer team as they are gasping for breath. She pushes them to complete drill after drill in the scorching 100 degree weather. To Pehanich, it is passion. It is fire. It must be done for success.
Pehanich is in her first year as the University of La Verne women’s soccer coach. Last season, the women’s soccer team finished last in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
“I came into this job knowing that they were eighth out of eighth,” Pehanich said. “I feel like one of my strengths as a coach is direction and saying, ‘this is how we are going to play.’”
Born and raised in Orange County, Pehanich comes to La Verne from Cal State Fullerton, where she was an assistant coach for five years at her alma mater. She is also involved in club level coaching, serving as head coach for AC Brea. She previously coached at Troy High School at the varsity and junior varsity level.
“Coaching was always in me,” Pehanich said.
Pehanich started playing soccer at the age of seven. At age ten she started playing at the club level and eventually became a four-year starter at Cal State Fullerton. Pehanich suffered a season-ending injury her senior year, but rehabbed and after graduating, she played professionally in Germany for a year.
“I have three brothers who played soccer so I was always on the field,” Pehanich said. “Soccer was the only thing that stuck with me.”
Outside of soccer, Pehanich enjoys yoga, reading, and going out with her husband. Her husband is also a women’s soccer coach at Santa Monica Junior College.
Pehanich’s overwhelming passion for soccer has already spread throughout her team.
“When things need to get serious you know she wants us to get down to business,” junior midfielder Jaime Weaver said. “Off the field she is really fun and jokes around a lot. She is easy to talk to.”
“I am really excited for this season,” senior defender Brianna Romero said.
“She has already changed our dynamic completely. We are on the right track to doing well this season,” she said.
In determining the team goals for this season, the women’s soccer team believes they can finish in the top four in the SCIAC.
“In watching them train and seeing their attitudes and how they are adapting, I have no doubt that we will be better than we were last year,” Pehanich said.
On Aug. 30 the Leopards earned a 2-1 victory over Arizona Christian in Pehanich’s first game as head coach.
The women’s soccer team is currently playing in a tournament at UC Santa Cruz.
The Leopards open up SCIAC play at 4 p.m. on Sept. 18 at Pomona-Pitzer.
Julian Mininsohn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.