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Clemens' New Beginning
By Josh Cornfield

Mandy Clemens liked Philly but enjoys being closer to home in San Jose.
Mandy Clemens liked Philly but enjoys being closer to home in San Jose. (Credit: Getty Images)
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VILLANOVA, Pa. (May 25, 2003)-- For much of last season, what Mandy Clemens did Saturday night wasn't possible.

She couldn't take a cross-field pass, dribble 15 yards, and blast a shot to the crossbar. She couldn't celebrate after a teammate headed the rebound of the shot into the net for a goal. She couldn't start a soccer game and play 90 minutes.

She did all of that Saturday night in San Jose's 2-0 win over the Charge. She did it as a CyberRay and against her former teammates.

She did it after an off-season trade that allowed her to rise up from what became a difficult situation in Philadelphia, where she rode the bench for much of the season, where she no longer fit in with the Charge's plans.

Mandy Clemens isn't bitter about her time in Philadelphia. Afterall, she is the team's fourth-leading all-time scorer with seven goals and seven assists in two seasons of play.

But Mandy Clemens is happy to have Philadelphia behind her.

"I liked playing for Philadelphia, but it was nice to be able to be closer to home," said the San Diego native, who starred at Santa Clara. "I think that my life feels a little more balanced. I'm close to my family, my family is important to me. I see my family probably once a week.

"In retrospect, I don't have any regrets. I think that anytime you have ups and downs as a player, the downs are always the times that test you as a person, your character. I think that it was a good life lesson."

Clemens began last season as a starting forward for the Charge. But after Philadelphia's Kelly Smith was injured, Charge coach Mark Krikorian switched the team's alignment to a 4-5-1, with Marinette Pichon as the lone forward. Clemens was turned into an outside midfielder, but her defensive play wasn't up to par, and she was replaced in the starting lineup there, too. She finished last season with two goals and two assists.

The Charge traded her to San Jose last October for the fourth overall pick in this year's draft, a pick the Charge used to take goalkeeper Hope Solo.

"For whatever reason, it just didn't work for us and it didn't work for her," Krikorian said at the time of the draft. "I wish her all the best. She's a nice kid and I hope it works for her - except when she plays Philly."

Clemens has played in six games this season for the 4-3 CyberRays and has made four starts. Saturday night's game was the first time she's played the full 90, and she recorded her first point of the season with the assist on Pretinha's second goal of the game.

"She's got a tremendous work ethic as you saw (Saturday)," CyberRays coach Ian Sawyers said. "She's all over the field, she has pace when she has the ball and she gets in behind pepole. She causes people problems."

Clemens' role has yet to be fully developed with San Jose. Clemens, who won the Hermann Trophy and the Missouri Athletic Club Award given to the best college player in the nation after her senior year at Santa Clara, said she would like to think of herself as a full-time starter.

"There's going to be times when our system dictates that she will play a lot," Sawyers said, "and there will be times when our system dictates she doesn't play as much. We have world-class players out there...We've been lucky, she's been tremendous for us and has done a good job."

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