NEWS, NOTES &
The Bradsher Beat
Wednesday, September 14,
By Bethany Bradsher
Women's soccer, golf teams
(ECU SID images)
All rights reserved.
The bye week might mean a
quiet news week on the East Carolina football front, but a couple of Lady
Pirates teams made up noise of their own on Tuesday.
First, the ECU soccer
team learned that the National Soccer Coaches Association of America had
ranked the Pirates No. 10 in the Central Region, proving that Rob
Donnenwirth’s coaching colleagues have taken notice of his squad’s 4-1-1
record and the steady play of athletes like senior Kimmy Cummings and junior
Butler, who was named
Conference USA Player of the Week two weeks ago for scoring both of the
goals in a 2-0 victory over UNC-Wilmington, said that she has felt
optimistic about teams in past preseasons, but this one seemed special from
the moment the players returned to campus.
“I think every year we’ve
had the potential to be really good, but I think this is the first year that
for some reason or the other it all gelled together,” said Butler, a junior
from Boerne, TX. “Everybody did the work they were supposed to do during the
Adherence to summer
strength and conditioning plans is one of the main variables in the success
of a team with a fall schedule, and when athletes show lukewarm commitment
to their plan during the summer it means more work for coaches when
preseason workouts start.
In the case of the soccer
team, none of that ramp-up time was necessary, Butler said.
“It makes all the
difference,” she said. “If you come into preseason and we’re not fit, then
all preseason is just getting us where we could have been at the beginning
of the preseason.”
Another difference for
the team, which will travel to South Carolina to face Francis Marion
University on Sunday and to Colorado Springs next week to open Conference
USA play against Colorado College, is the experience offered by seven
seniors and six juniors. The stability and leadership offered by the senior
class have helped empower emerging players like freshmen Kelley Johnson and
Lexi Miller, who scored in ECU’s 2-2 tie with William & Mary, the nation's
No. 21 team, on Sunday.
Of course, a brand-new
stadium full of 1,000 boosters doesn’t hurt, especially since the team had
to play off campus at North Campus Crossing last year. The crowds are
becoming increasingly enthusiastic, and with that atmosphere comes a pride
that makes the Pirates want to win at home even more.
“We think it’s our home
now, and we’ve really taken an attitude that we don’t want to lose in our
stadium,” Butler said.
As the conference slate
heats up, the Lady Pirates will face the truest test of their ability to
compete on a national stage. Among their C-USA opponents are three teams
ranked above them in the Central Region — Memphis (no. 2), Central Florida
(no. 3) and Rice (no. 8). Matchups with teams of that caliber guarantee a
higher RPI, and if the Pirates do qualify for the NCAA Tournament the
competition they have faced in conference play will help prepare them for
Ladies master the
The other East Carolina
team that was on the receiving end of national accolades Tuesday was the
women’s golf squad, which competed in a 12-team field at the Golfweek
Program Challenge and came out on top. The championship, which set a new
school record for 54 holes with a score of 870, marked the third time in
five years that the Lady Pirates opened their season with a tournament
Senior Julia Strandberg
paced her team at the tournament, which was played at the Caledonia Golf and
Fish Club in Pawleys Island, SC. She finished third overall in the
tournament, a triumph that is even more amazing considering a back injury
that has plagued her throughout college and frequently kept her from making
ECU’s starting five.
The Golfweek Program
Challenge was only Strandberg's third career start, but she served notice
with a career record in 18-hole score (68) and 54-hole score (216).
unbelievable," Coach Kevin Williams told Golfweek.com’s Ryan Lavner. "I
can't even begin to describe how amazing it feels to pull for someone so
hard for three years and see it finally pay off."
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