NEWS, NOTES &
The Bradsher Beat
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
By Bethany Bradsher
Lady Pirates find treasure in
All rights reserved.
(Photos: ECU SID)
If you wandered into an awards ceremony in
Houston on Monday and knew nothing about collegiate women’s soccer, you
would have come away with the following conclusion: It was a very good
season for East Carolina.
— Conference USA
Coach of the Year: ECU's Rob Donnenwirth.
— C-USA Defensive
Player of the Year: ECU goalkeeper Amber Campbell.
— Campbell and
teammate Madison Keller made the All-Conference first team, Savanna Russo
was named to the second team and Amanda Malkiewicz was selected to the
All those accolades came before the Lady Pirates
even played their first game at the C-USA Tournament.
Every Pirate team starts its season with a
conference title in its sights. This team has done it, at least in the
regular season, claiming only ECU’s second regular-season championship (the
first went to the baseball team in 2004).
The next challenge starts Wednesday, when the
Lady Pirates face Southern Methodist in an effort to clinch the tournament
title. In a season in which 10 games were decided by a single goal and four
ended in ties, ECU doesn’t have any room for error.
“Now, it’s sort of one and done,” Donnenwirth
said. “We’ll have to step it up to another level.”
With six seniors, this squad has thrived under
strong leadership of players like Campbell, Keller and forward Blair
In the preseason,
Donnenwirth and his staff worried about their defensive tenacity because of
the spring graduation of backfield players like Kat Norris and Patty Pierce.
But Campbell has been fierce in the net, and her defensive teammates have
surpassed expectations and made the Lady Pirates the team to beat this
With Memphis and Central
Florida nipping at their heels as the two and three seeds, the Pirates have
an intense road ahead of them to the title game on Sunday. Nothing is a
given, Donnenwirth said, and even their opening round opponent is a young,
talented team that only fell to ECU 2-1 when they met early in the season.
“They’re going to be
ready to go, and I think they’re much more dangerous now than they were when
we played them early in the season,” Donnenwirth said.
Crowds at ECU home games
have grown as the season has played out, and Donnenwirth has been gratified
as the Pirate Nation has thrown its weight behind his team, he said. Like
the women’s basketball team two years ago, this Lady Pirates squad is
proving that women’s sports can lead the charge toward ECU excellence.
“We’ve gotten some
congratulatory e-mails,” he said. “Anybody that follows athletics, they want
But as much as
Donnenwirth enjoys the chance to put his sport on the map for ECU, he would
give up his Coach-of-the-Year award in a heartbeat if it guaranteed a smooth
road to the conference trophy.
“I would trade it for
three more wins,” he said.
The Lady Pirates’ game
against SMU is scheduled for 1 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday. If ECU wins, it
will play Friday night, and the championship game will be played Sunday at 2
p.m. and broadcast on CBS College Sports.
The NCAA Women’s College
Cup will play out for the national champion in Cary beginning on Dec. 5.
Send a message to Bethany Bradsher.
Dig into Bethany Bradsher's archives.
11/10/2008 12:37:14 AM