As part of the 50th Anniversary of Washington Youth Soccer, we want to know who the best men, women, and soccer citizens have been over the first 50 years of WA Youth Soccer. In a soccer-rich community like Washington, the Top 50 players could be hotly debated...
Architect for the state’s most dominant collegiate women’s program of the last 50 years, Dr. Colleen Hacker was playing for and winning national championships on an annual basis at Pacific Lutheran long before the Cougars and Huskies programs took root. Consequently, many of the state’s foremost players would go Lutes.
That explains why Portland and the legendary Clive Charles couldn’t beat PLU in Hacker’s era. In fact, very few teams could. Over 15 seasons her teams went 233-59-18 (.781), and the sweet spot was a run of five straight trips to the NAIA championship game (1988-91), winning three titles.
A generation or so later, it’s perplexing how few remember such amazing feats. At the time, however, it got the attention of U.S. National Team coach Tony DiCicco. Following a third-place World Cup finish in 1995, he brought Hacker into the fold as assistant coach and team psychologist. Hacker’s contributions helped the U.S. quickly respond by winning gold at Atlanta and adding the 1999 World Cup title.
Hacker is understandably proud of her role and particularly those PLU teams who despite few financial resources proved perennial giant slayers. Shari Rider of Renton and Wendy Johnson of Edmonds, four-time All-Americans and featured players on each of the three championship teams, are included among her selections.
“In their era, they were just some of the best players in the United States of America, Division I, II, III–any level,” said Hacker, noting that other NAIA teams often featured 13 full-ride scholarships. “It certainly was not Div. III soccer. What we played was more analogous to Division II or middle Division I.”
“How good were we? A U of P(ortland) team never beat us,” remarked Hacker. “We were up 2-0 and (future USWNT star) Tiffeny Milbrett had to create a couple goals to earn a tie. I can live with that.”
Hacker's Top 18 – Made in Washington