Soccer: Clarence Gundersen Named Twin City Union Women’s Head Coach

New Twin City Union women’s soccer coach Clarence Gundersen poses for a photo at Tiger Stadium in Centralia.

Gundersen Named Twin City Union Women’s Head Coach

By Matt Baide

mbaide@chronline.com

Twin City Union will have another new coach this year as Clarence Gundersen has been hired to run the TCU’s women’s soccer team.

Gundersen, a lifelong soccer player and fan, will be the program’s third coach in as many seasons. The Centralia High School suffered a series of ACL injuries that ended his playing career, but not his love for the game.

“It stopped me from going on to college to play but I always had a passion for the game,” Gundersen said. “It was hard to give that up as a player, but I love coaching and I like to work with youth and try to get them better to understand the game.”

Gundersen, originally from Liberia in West Africa, moved to Centralia in 2006. He graduated from Centralia High School before attending Centralia College, then transferred to Eastern Washington University to complete his degree.

He’s currently an assistant coach for the Centralia High School boys team.

“The game came easy to me, just because it was something I did every day. It was easy for me to play and it was easy for me to understand the game, as well,” Gundersen said. “In terms of coaching experience, my only experience is from working with the high school kids so I’m excited this year to be the head coach for the women’s team and see if we can be a little competitive this year and just try to help out youth over here, and women, to get better with the sport.”

The team has held tryouts and is assembling a squad in preparation for its first game, and Gundersen likes what he’s seen so far.

“We definitely have some decent players. Just as a coach, it’s just trying to put everybody together, trying to make them work together as a team,” Gundersen said. “I understand we have a lot of youth, and we also have a lot of older players returning that want to play, but the biggest thing for me as a coach is just having my team play as one and so far, they’re looking good.”

The first-time head coach will have help from assistant Noel Vazquez, who’s currently Toledo High School’s head girls soccer coach.

“We have to make that plan every day before practice or a game, so it’s a little bit more work to it,” Gundersen said. “I have great assistant coach, in Noel, who’s definitely helping, so he makes my job a lot easier and also the people on the board was helping me to make my transition to this role a lot easier.”

Twin City Union went 5-4-3 in its inaugural season, but took a slight step backward in 2017 with a 2-7-1 record and a negative-12 goal differential.

The top six teams make the playoffs in the Northwest Premier League, and Gundersen’s goal is to be one of those six teams — which is exactly what he told TCU chairman Henry Gallanger upon his hiring.

“You get me the players that you think will help us to be well-known in this league. I will help them get there, but we are definitely looking forward to being competitive this year,” Gundersen said. “I don’t know much about the league but I’m hoping this year will be the first year we make the playoffs and that’s one of my goals.”

Gundersen hopes a team featuring local talent, and a competitive squad, bring out more fans this season.

“I think it will help our community to come and support the girls. I’ve lived in this area for a while, and soccer is not something that is huge,” Gundersen said. “Having friends and family come to the game, that will help promote soccer more and stuff like that to show that we have talent in this area.”

Twin City Union opens the season on May 5 against Black Hills FC at Ingersoll Stadium in Olympia and will play its home opener on May 19 against South Sound FC.

“We’re definitely going to be there because we still have a month of training before the first game so before the first game,” Gundersen said. “I know my players are going to be ready because as a coach and my assistant coach and I are going to put in the work to have our players prepared for the first game.”

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