A look back at W&L women’s soccer


By: Brian Laubscher

Today we end the look back at fall sports at Washington and Lee with the top women’s soccer moments.  We’ll then shelve the top moments until mid-October when we’ll move on to the top winter sports memories.  We’ll then take a look back at the spring sports in early February.

In the meantime, our regular bloggers are going to begin creating content and our hope is to bring you something new each and every day.  W&L Athletic Director Jan Hathorn will start it off on Monday and joining her throughout the weeks will be the athletic training staff and coaches Joel Shinofield, Wendy Orrison, Gene McCabe, Neil Cunningham and Kris Hoey.  I hope you enjoy it!

So, now we look back at women’s soccer.  My first memories are from the 1998 season when the Generals went 11-3 and earned the top seed for the ODAC Tournament.  I can’t help but think of Karin Treese when I look back to that season.  She was one of those natural instinctive athletes that always seemed to be in the right place.  Karin ended her career as W&L’s all-time leading scorer, a record she still holds (167 pts.).  However, what I remember most from that season was the players’ joy that they were going to be hosting the ODAC Tournament on Liberty Hall Fields.  Their excitement was evident when everyone arrived at the field for the semifinals on October 28, 1998.  The players had painted the entire center circle blue with a white W&L in the middle.  I heard that they had done it during the night with the headlights from a few cars shining on the field so they could see.  They had used paint rollers and latex house paint to cover the area of the center circle, something that I’m sure took them nearly all night to complete.  It looked pretty good too — even a month later when it was still there (latex house paint doesn’t exactly wash away).  They may have ended up killing the grass, but it certainly was a memorable moment.

The next moment occurred exactly two years later on October 28, 2000.  It actually was the final women’s soccer game coached by Jan Hathorn and I’m sure she appreciates me pointing that out.  It was the ODAC Championship game, W&L’s first appearance in the final since 1990 when they fell in a heartbreaker to Roanoke, 2-1 in four overtimes.  The 2000 final took three extra sessions to determine a winner and when the dust settled, it was Lynchburg on top.  Today the games go to penalty kicks after two overtimes, but in those days you played until someone scored.  The game-winner went in after the ball deflected off a W&L defender and slipped past goalkeeper Lauren Harris, who saved an amazing 20 would-be goals that day, just one save shy of a school record.  A cruel way to lose and I still remember receiving the heartbreaking phone call about how we fell that day.

Heather Rogers

Heather Rogers

Neil Cunningham took over the program in 2001 and had the Generals back in the ODAC Championship game in his second season.  W&L got another crack at the Hornets in the ODAC final on November 9, 2002.  The game ended in a 0-0 tie but the Generals claimed the title by PK’s, 5-4.  Emily Barker made the only stop of the PK session and Heather Rogers drilled the winner to give W&L its first-ever ODAC title.  The Generals then defeated Greensboro in the first round of the NCAA’s at Liberty Hall Fields, 2-0.  That game had some of the worst field conditions I’ve ever seen.  The season ended with a 1-0 loss at UT-Dallas, but it was a special season.  After starting with a 1-1-2 record, W&L went on to post a 17-game unbeaten streak (16-0-1) before falling to Dallas.

Jenny Thomas and the flip throw-in

Jenny Thomas and the flip throw-in

Despite graduating Jenny Thomas and her famous flip throw-ins, the 2003 team also produced some great memories en route to the program’s second-straight ODAC title.  The Generals began the season with an 11-game unbeaten streak (10-0-1) before dropping a 1-0 home loss to rival Virginia Wesleyan in the 12th game.  The two highly-ranked teams (VWC was 7th, W&L was 18th) met again in the ODAC final three weeks later in Virginia Beach and this time W&L walked away the victor.  Anne Wiltshire and Rebecca Cohen tallied goals 1:40 apart in the first half for a 2-0 lead and the defense held off a furious VWC rally for the 2-1 win.  The Generals were awarded a first round bye and a chance to host the NCAA Regional, advancing past Greensboro (0-0, 4-1 on PK’s) for a berth in the Sweet 16.  The next opponent?  Virginia Wesleyan.  The Marlins moved on with a 1-0 win on the strength of a long-range dagger at the 106:30 mark.  Neither team deserved to lose that day, but someone had to and the Marlins advanced.  That was a tough one to swallow.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a season as dominating as the Generals’ 2006 campaign.  I doubt that I’ll ever see anything like it again.  W&L played 23 games that season and allowed but three goals.  Three!  Treis! Drei!  Whatever language, it’s still incredible.  The Generals did not surrender their first goal until the 16th game of the year, a 2-1 win over Roanoke.  Incredibly, W&L did not advance to the ODAC Championship game that year, falling to Virginia Wesleyan in the semifinals by a score of 1-0.  The Generals received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and went on a tear, defeating Meredith (6-0), Maryville (1-0) and Washington University (2-1).  And, for a trip to the NCAA Final Four at Disney’s Wide World of Sports, W&L would have to go through another familiar foe – Virginia Wesleyan.  Virginia Beach is a four-hour drive from Lexington, but the excitement of that game was too much to miss.  There wasn’t much else going on that Sunday, November 19, and I rarely get to watch a game as a fan, so then assistant SID Austin Calhoun and former W&L hoopster/sports info student helper and current VMI Senior Women’s Administrator Elizabeth Igo and I piled into Austin’s Nissan Pathfinder and made the trek to Marlinland.  I can’t remember another time when I pulled harder for a W&L team to win, but they couldn’t do it in regulation.  As it turns out, the Generals would have their season come to an end despite never allowing a goal, very appropriate.  The game ended in a 0-0 tie but the Marlins moved on by PK’s, 4-3.  That was about as disappointed as I’ve ever been, but the memories of that season are still quite special.  The Generals’ miniscule 0.127 goals-against average led every NCAA Division that season and is still the fifth-lowest in the history of collegiate women’s soccer.


September 27, 2008 – W&L nearly defeats top-ranked and eventual National Champion Messiah, falling 4-3 in overtime.


3 Responses to “A look back at W&L women’s soccer”

  1. Austin Calhoun Says:

    The memories of that 2006 game nearly bring tears to my eyes – and how did we not have “much” going on in November? That seems highly unlikely!

  2. Elizabeth Igo Says:

    That was a good trip (minus the loss) and a great season for the Gennies. One of the best.

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