Catlin Gabel soccer has a rich and storied history, and has boasted one of the most successful 3A programs over the years. In 2013, a new chapter will unfold as two new coaches take over the boys’ and girls’ varsity soccer teams.
The past two years marked the separate departures of two long-tenured coaches: boys’ varsity coach and former athletic director Mike Davis, and girls’ varsity coach and former Upper School math teacher Mark Lawton.
Davis left in 2011, following a 2010 state championship win for his boys. Alumnus Roger Gantz ’89 took over for the 2011 season, coming into a very young team that had just lost eleven seniors from the previous year. He had tremendous success with the boys, coaching the team to the semi-final round of the state playoffs.
An April 3 email from athletic director Sandy Luu announced that Gantz would be stepping down from his position as head coach, and would be replaced by longtime boys’ varsity assistant coach and Upper School history teacher Peter Shulman.
Shulman has coached at Catlin Gabel for ten years, and will begin his second decade in the head coaching position. He’s played soccer since age six, including four years on the varsity squad at Haverford College, and he’s been coaching since 8th grade, when he helped with a team of five- and six year-olds. In fact, Shulman has spent all but two years of his 21-year teaching career coaching soccer.
In his time at Catlin Gabel, Shulman has helped coach some, “wicked good” teams. When he arrived, the boys scored 86 goals and allowed only three his first season. They went on to beat the 4A (at the time, 4A was the largest OSAA classification) state champions, and lost only one game in his first two years with the Eagles.
While the 2013 team may not quite reach that bar, Shulman has high expectations and big goals for this seasons team. He says his primary goal is to focus on possession, but he’ll also focus on transitions, set plays, and experimenting with formations that deviate from the team’s typical 4-4-2 lineup. “I think we’ll have a few tricks up our sleeves,” he says.
Shulman, who describes his coaching style as “positive but demanding,” also plans to put emphasis on fitness, and isn’t ruling out sending the boys over to Mike Davis (who will return as the boys’ JV coach) for some conditioning.
In general, Shulman looks forward to next season. “The skill level I think is going to be pretty high,” he comments. “We’re not going to be Barcelona, but you don’t have to be very big if you’ve got skill, speed, and a good team concept. It should be fun. We’re young, but I like where I think we’re headed.”
On the girls’ side, Chris Dorough ’03 will take over from Lisa Unsworth, who took the reins from Lawton for the 2012 season after four years as assistant coach. Luu announced Dorough as Unsworth’s replacement in an email to the Catlin community on April 3rd.
Dorough was a lifer at Catlin, and played under Davis, who coached the team to three state championships––including one win––during Dorough’s time on varsity.
He makes the return to Catlin after years coaching for Tualatin Hills United Soccer Club (a club soccer team) and the Scappoose High School girls’ varsity team. He joins a program that reached the state finals every year––winning once––in the last three years of Lawton’s tenure, and fell just short of the semi-finals this year in an overtime loss to St. Mary’s of Medford.
In an email, Dorough said he wanted to coach at Catlin Gabel because it “feels like home to me. I grew up on the campus and had countless amazing teachers,” including Art Leo, Dale Rawls, and Tom Tucker. “Once I started coaching I always had the Catlin Gabel girls’ job in the back of my mind, and at this point in my coaching career I believe I’m ready.”
Now that he’s back, Dorough plans to, like Shulman, focus on possession and looking to make offensive plays in the game. He also says his main goal for the girls is to “work hard to return the program to its once [dominant] state, but enjoy and approach the game with passion.”
His own passion for the game is clear, too. Says Dorough, “I’m most looking forward to the fall and working with the team each day in practice to get better. I believe everytime you touch the ball you have a chance to get better. I can’t wait to return [to] the school and field that shaped me and give back.”
Both teams have much to look forward to in the coming season with coaches who have such long-standing relationships with Catlin Gabel’s soccer program at the helm.
Says Shulman, “we will try to play some beautiful soccer.”