Thursday, August 6, 2009

Lisa Cole Takes the Controls for Breakers in Game against Athletica

After spending the first two-thirds of the Boston Breakers season as head coach Tony DiCicco's co-pilot, assistant coach Lisa Cole had the opportunity to take the controls in last Saturday's 1-0 loss to the Saint Louis Athletica.

Cole was given the opportunity to captain the Breaker ship thanks to a one-game suspension of DiCicco after he tap danced on the refereeing of Jose Carlos Rivero in the Breakers' 1-0 loss to the Washington Freedom.

Rivero handed down a red card in the fifth minute of the match to Breaker defender Alex Scott, forcing the Breakers to play short-handed the rest of the game.

DiCicco has since apologized for his comments, but was still suspended one game, fined $1,000, and required to work six hours of community service.

So with DiCicco relegated to watching the game from the hotel, assistant coach Cole got to wear the head coach hat for a day.

I asked Cole how it felt to fly solo following the loss to Saint Louis. "To be honest it was like most games, with how it happened and the situation we are in as a team," explained Cole, who coached collegiately and at the semi-pro level before joining the Breakers. "I was just focused on us coming up with a game plan to get a win vs. Saint Louis."

Cole explained that her Breaker team prepared for the game in much the same way they always do due in part to her familiarity with how DiCicco coaches. The duo has coached together previously and Cole has coached at DicCicco's SoccerPlus camps for more than a decade.

"I think here is definitely (coached like) Tony in the way things were done for the game. We did our pregame talk at the hotel so he could go over the keys and then in the locker room I just reminded them of the keys.

"When we were ready for the match to start I just went over the keys for the game and I reminded them that this was a great opportunity for us to rise above some adversity."

In addition to serving as the Breakers assistant, Cole is the President and Assistant Coach of the SoccerPlus Connecticut Reds, a Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) team, which is also coached by DiCicco. The team played its inaugural season in 2007 and won the USASA U-23 National Title, a USASA Bronze in the Open Cup, as well as qualifying for the WPSL playoffs.

She is also the Director for the SoccerPlus Education Center, a non-profit organization that provides and participates in educational programs, seminars, community outreach events, and individual mentoring on and off the soccer field.

Prior to this, Cole coached at the collegiate level, where she was assistant coach at Florida State in 2005 under well known head coach Mark Krikorian.

Cole's only collegiate head coaching position was in 2003 and 2004 at the University of Rhode Island, where she compiled a 19-18-4 record and a 13-6-3 record in Atlantic 10 play.

Before taking over the Rhode Island program, Cole spent three seasons (’00-’03) as an assistant at one of the most successful college soccer programs in America while working at the University of Connecticut under head coach Len Tsantiris.

During her playing days, Cole was a star goalkeeper at Pacific Lutheran College under Dr. Colleen Hacker, Sports Psychologist for the U.S. Women's National Team. While playing for Hacker, Cole set school records for most saves in a career (276) and a season (140).

As a senior for the Lutes she received National Conference of Independent College (NCIC) honors and was named Pacific Lutheran's Most Inspirational Player.

"I only called Dr. Colleen Hacker (my college coach and team sports psychologist) before the game," explained Cole. "Just to get any suggestions or advice and because she would have been mad if I hadn’t called," laughed Cole.

When asked if she has aspirations of moving up to the head coach position permanently some day, she replied, "Yes, I would like to be a head coach again at some level, college or professional. I have and continue to learn a lot from Tony, but would like the opportunity someday to take the lead."

At least for now, Cole will settle back into her position as DiCicco's right hand "person" as the Breakers fly towards a possible playoff berth. But Cole will long remember her first chance to pilot the craft on her own. (TC)

Todd Civin is a freelance writer who writes for the Bleacher Report and Seamheads. He can be reached at with comments or story ideas. He is also a supporter of "A Glove of Their Own", the award winning children's book that is capturing the heart of the nation.

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