Highs and Lows

Highs and Lows

Aug. 14, 2001

by John Philip Wyllie


That's the way Philadelphia Charge forward Mandy Clemens described her feelings following Thursday's 1-1 draw with the San Diego Spirit. Kelly Smith's timely goal, which Clemens helped set up, knotted the score in the second half. And that was all the Charge needed to defy the "experts" and gain their spot in the Women's United Soccer Association post-season tournament.

Philadelphia, the league's fourth-place team, will open on the road in Atlanta against the top-seeded Atlanta Beat on Saturday at 6:45 p.m. EST. For Clemens, a playoff berth adds a wonderful high to a season strewn with both highs and lows.

As a former collegiate Player of the Year for the Santa Clara Broncos, Clemens was thrilled at 22 to be among the youngest allocated stars of the WUSA start-up. But when play began, she found herself in a reserve role in the Charge's season-opening 2-0 victory over San Diego.

Clemens' coach, Mark Krikorian, had goalkeeper Saskia Webber, another allocated player with national team experience, sitting on the same bench. Krikorian no doubt sent a message that previous accomplishments, no matter how great, were of little value on his team.

"It's been very difficult, and I think a lot of players feel the same way about the roller-coaster ride it has been," said Clemens reflecting on her up-and-down season. "Basically, what I've learned through it all is that you just have to keep playing your game, but that is a really difficult thing to do."

The competitive atmosphere that Krikorian created for each and every spot on the field turned out to be one of the keys that forged the league's youngest team into a playoff participant. Clemens for one, has responded to Krikorian's challenge, one she considered a test of character.

With five goals and two assists on the year, Clemens placed third in scoring for the Charge behind Chinese international Liu Ailing and Britain's Kelly Smith. Her late-season, two-goal game against Carolina on Aug. 6, however, might be an indicator that Clemens is saving her best for last. She has been shut out in three previous attempts against the stingy Beat defense, so perhaps she is due for some better luck this time around.

"I think I'm feeling stronger physically and getting to know the players around me a little better," says Clemens. "We've learned to combine and get a better rhythm going."

Clemens will have her work cut out for her in trying to penetrate Atlanta's stifling defense. With Briana Scurry staring back at her from her goal line behind a defense usually consisting of Kylie Bivens, Sharolta Nonen, Dayna Smith, and Lisa Krzykowski, Clemens faces a tough challenge.

But then overcoming challenges is what Clemens' season has been all about.

©womenssoccer.com 2001

Perfect Compliments
May 24, 2002 Perfect Compliments
Wagner goes to the Oscars
March 13, 2002 Wagner goes to the Oscars
We Are the Champions
February 19, 2002 We Are the Champions
What Number Are You?
January 27, 2002 What Number Are You?
Thick and Thin
January 22, 2002 Thick and Thin
January 8, 2002 'Crisis'
A Superstitious Bunch
December 10, 2001 A Superstitious Bunch
2001 Women's College Cup
December 9, 2001 2001 Women's College Cup
Post-Match Quotes
December 1, 2001 Post-Match Quotes
Q&A with Leslie Osborne
November 30, 2001 Q&A with Leslie Osborne
Women's Soccer Tickets On Sale
November 19, 2001 Women's Soccer Tickets On Sale
Post Match Quotes
November 18, 2001 Post Match Quotes
Bowen bounds forward
November 16, 2001 Bowen bounds forward
Post Game Quotes
November 16, 2001 Post Game Quotes
Don't Leave Home without It
November 15, 2001 Don't Leave Home without It
2001 WCC Women's Soccer Stats
November 15, 2001 2001 WCC Women's Soccer Stats
October 19, 2001 Y-Not
Post Match Quotes
October 18, 2001 Post Match Quotes
Santa Clara adidas Classic
September 30, 2001 Santa Clara adidas Classic
Post Match Quotes
September 28, 2001 Post Match Quotes
Broncos' Show Must Go On
September 18, 2001 Broncos' Show Must Go On
Sprained and hurting
August 14, 2001 Sprained and hurting
Highs and Lows
August 14, 2001 Highs and Lows
Taking it to the Next Level
August 13, 2001 Taking it to the Next Level
Did You Know?
July 10, 2001 Did You Know?