Trifectas abound for the Western Carolina University women’s soccer team and third-year head coach Debbie Hensley. As the Lady Catamounts prepared for their third season in existence, Hensley announced the signing of three players to her squad for the 2001 season, in hopes that the third time is a charm.
Brittany Bennefield, Tami Pissott, and Rebecca Sanders all signed National Letters of Intent to play for Hensley’s Lady Cats in the fall.
Hensley is confident and extremely happy with the trio.
“All three give us needed depth and will make it competitive for our starting positions,” explained Hensley. “They all come from strong club teams and have a good foundation, which is critical since we only have them for about two weeks in preseason.”
She added, “I am expecting these student-athletes to raise the overall level of our team.”
Two of the players are from out-of-state, and unlike the previous outside recruiting, they don’t hail from South Carolina. Instead, both are from Georgia and from an Atlanta-area market in which Hensley hopes to further establish herself.
Brittany Bennefield is a defender from Marietta, Ga. She’s been a member of the Georgia Olympic Development Program (ODP), as well as the under-18 state champion Atlanta Hot Shots club team.
“Brittany’s biggest asset from what I noticed from watching her play is she’s one of the toughest players I’ve seen. When she goes after a tackle, she doesn’t leave anything,” said Hensley. “She’s very aggressive.”
Team captain for Walton High School, Bennefield led the Lady Raiders to the state playoffs in 1998 and ‘99.
Fellow Georgian, Tami Pissott, hails from Snellville, Ga. Hensley calls Pissott “versatile.”
“She can play either defense or midfield and has the ability to adjust to where we need her to play,” Hensley added.
As a junior at Shiloh High School, Pissott was named to the all-county second team. Also a member of Georgia ODP, Pissott played for the Stone Mountain Spirit club team, which won the Norway/Oslo Cup in 1997, as well.
The only native North Carolinian signed thus far by Hensley is Rebecca Sanders. The Hampstead, NC, native is a two-time conference Player-of-the-Year and an all-state honorable mention performer. She tallied 17 goals and 16 assists from her midfield position as a junior.
“Becca is a solid player in the midfield and seems very coachable,” said Hensley.
Sanders has played for the Wilmington Wave club team and was named the team captain for the Topsail High School team this season.
These three players will join the young, but very successful, WCU program, which has tallied winning records both seasons. Last year the Lady Catamounts made it to the final four of the Southern Conference tournament.
“We’ve successfully reached all of our goals in the first two seasons,” said Hensley.
As was the case following the inaugural year, all 11 starters will return in the fall for Hensley’s Cats. In the meantime, the team is keeping busy utilizing their five spring competition days. Earlier this month the Lady Cats won an indoor tournament at Tusculum and lost in the quarterfinals in Asheville.
The Cats plan on traveling to Tusculum again this weekend for an outdoor, nine-a-side tourney which will feature Southern Conference rival East Tennessee State. WCU will travel to Catawaba for a seven-a-side tournament on April 7, and conclude their spring with a date with Furman at the end of April.
The focus of the squad during these competition days is to remain active and what Hensley calls “housekeeping”: working on fundamentals.