Bonesville: The Authoritative Independent Voice of East Carolina
Daily News & Features from East Carolina, Conference USA and Beyond

Mobile Alpha Roundup Daily Beat Recruiting The Seasons Multimedia Historical Data Pirate Time Machine SportByte™ Weather





Put your ad message in front of 1,000's and 1,000's of Pirate fans. Call 252.637.2944 for flexible options & rates.





The Bradsher Beat
Wednesday, November 5, 2008

By Bethany Bradsher

Lady Pirates find treasure in Texas

By Bethany Bradsher
All rights reserved.

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-Freshman Team.

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 Heffner.

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 weekend.

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 conference championships.”

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

©2001-2002-2003-2004-2005-2006-2007-2008-2009-2010-2011-2012-2013 All rights reserved.
Articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files and other content originated on this site are the proprietary property of
None of the articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files or other content originated on this site may be reproduced without written permission.
This site is not affiliated with East Carolina University. View's Privacy Policy. Advertising contact: 252-349-3280; Editorial contact:; 252-444-1905.