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MASTER'S COLLEGE NOTEBOOK: MUSTANGS SET STAGE FOR SOCCER REWARDS LATER.

Byline: Patrick Hipes Daily News Staff Writer

It is true The Master's College women's soccer team is 3-5, struggling a bit through the muck of a tough early-season schedule, but it is also true coach Dudley Hitchman refuses to be concerned with it.

The Mustangs have played regional powers like Biola and Westmont already, and will play two NCAA Division I schools - Cal State Northridge and Pepperdine - before the end of the regular season Oct. 27.

Still, Hitchman insists there is a method to this tough-schedule madness. He looks with a longing glance at Oct. 10 on the schedule, when The Master's plays host to United States International University in a game with severe playoff implications.

``We're really focused on Oct. 10,'' said Hitchman following the Mustangs' 3-1 victory over Concordia (Irvine) on Saturday. ``Whoever wins moves on, whoever loses stays home.''

In brief, USIU is part of The Master's NAIA Far West Region. A victory at Reese Field - combined with the aforementioned tough schedule - would give the Mustangs a berth in the NAIA Far West Independent Championship on Nov. 7. A convincing victory - again combined with the schedule - might allow The Master's to host the championship game at Reese Field.

In other words, playing Northridge and Pepperdine might not be fun and games on the field, but Hitchman feels it will provide a springboard to bigger and better things come November.

Maybe it's not so bad, after all.

Injury update: The Mustangs will play without sweeper Julie Hamner for today's match against Claremont at 4 p.m at Reese Field.

Hamner, a freshman from San Leandro, injured her quadriceps in Saturday's victory. She will be replaced in the lineup with Shannon Ostojic, a sophomore from Desert Christian High School.

Big day: The Master's men's basketball coach Bill Oates said he is excited about eight new recruits who officially committed to the Mustangs program late last week.

``I really like this group,'' said Oates, beginning his sixth season. ``We have some transfers with experience and I think, on paper, this is one of the best classes we've had.''

An intriguing name on the list is Anthony Basaba, a 6-foot-8 forward from Uganda, Africa. Oates heard about and corresponded with him through faxes and E-Mails and saw a videotape of the raw 19-year old, a sometimes member of the his country's national team.

``He'll be a good player but he's got a ways to go,'' Oates said. ``He works hard, and he's got rapidly developing skills.''

The basketball team opens practice Monday and the season begins Nov. 6 at California Christain College in Fresno.

Lehr lauded: The Mustangs women's volleyball team, idle since last Thursday, learned freshman setter Kati Lehr was named NAIA Far West Independent Setter of the Week.

Lehr, coach Karen Peterson's first recruit last spring, averaged 12.7 assists per game in last week's action for The Master's (8-6). She is second in the region with 142 assists.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Men's soccer: Biola at The Master's, Saturday, 1 p.m.

Women's soccer: Claremont at The Master's, today, 4 p.m.; The Master's at Biola, Saturday, 4 p.m.

Women's volleyball: Pacific Christian at The Master's, Thursday, 7:30 p.m.; The Master's at Christian Heritage, Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

CAPTION(S):

2 Photos, Box

PHOTO (1) HITCHMAN

(2) HAMNER

BOX: UPCOMING EVENTS (See text)
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Sep 23, 1998
Words:557
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