The championship win
After a historic regular season, WCU women’s soccer capped off their season in winning fashion, defeating the Samford Bulldogs 1-0 to win the Southern Conference Championship.
The win gives the Catamounts their first SoCon Championship since 2008. The team won from a Naya Marcil goal in the first half and successfully defended the lead through the second.
With the conference championship victory, the Catamounts automatically qualify for the NCAA Division One Women’s Soccer Tournament in Cary, North Carolina. Matches and dates for the tournament have not yet been set at the time of printing.
Southern Conference Women’s Soccer Championship
The Catamounts entered the Southern Conference Championship Tournament as the No. 1 seed after clenching the SoCon regular season championship with a 7-2 conference record.
That record was much improved from just a year ago, where the team went 4-4-1 in conference gameplay in 2022.
The Catamounts faced off against the Wofford Terriers on Friday, Oct. 27 in the quarterfinals of the SoCon Championship Tournament.
WCU blew the Terreirs out of the water with a 5-0 game sending the Catamounts to the SoCon Championship Semifinals.
The Cats faced off against Furman in the semifinal round of the championship Sunday, Oct. 29. Previously, WCU lost to the Paladins 1-2 in their one and only match up in September. This time, WCU bested Furman 1-0, moving the Catamounts to the SoCon Championship game.
Excellence on and off the field
With the end of the season approaching, Head Coach Chad Miller looks to fine tune the team’s skills.
“This time of year, it’s really more managing your body mentally and physically,” he said. “It’s about taking care of our bodies and our mind and fine-tuning things.”
The team has fostered a supportive mentality that has contributed to the team chemistry and performance.
“I think this is the most depth we have had in our program in a while,” Miller said. “Its next woman up mentality.”
This season’s roster meshed well off the field, which transferred onto the field throughout the season.
“Our program has always been very close, but I think this year’s very unique in that the freshmen coming in integrated into the group seamlessly,” Miller said. “I think it is a very selfless group. I think they are in it for each other. They don’t worry about as much individual stuff as you see sometimes in teams, and I think that has contributed a lot to our success.
Through their successes the team received many recognitions throughout the season.
Sophomore striker Isabella Demarco was honored with a spot on the preseason All-Southern Conference team and then, in August, was named offensive player of the month in the Southern Conference. In October, DeMarco was named Southern Conference Player of the Year. She became WCU’s first SoCon Player of the Year in any category.
Sophomore goalkeeper Leanne Trudel was awarded Defensive Player of the Week for the week of Aug. 17-21 after four saves against UNC Charlotte and two saves against Queens University of Charlotte. She is the first to receive this award since the 2020-2021 season.
Naya Marcil was awarded Offensive Player of the Week two weeks in a row this season for the weeks of Sept. 26 through Oct. 2 and Oct. 3-10. The first week she scored 4 goals and aided with 5 assists. The following week she scored 2 goals and aided in 4 assists.
Becca Campbell was awarded the Conference Defensive Player of the Week twice for the weeks of Sept. 26 through Oct. 2 and Oct. 17-23 leading into the SoCon Championship tournament. She played 90 minutes in the competition against UNCG and 86 minutes against Wofford. She also scored in the game against Wofford and scored the Catamounts’ only goal in the competition against ETSU.
Alexis DeMarco was awarded Conference Offensive Player of the Week for the week of Oct. 10-16. She scored two goals against the Citadel, both assisted by her sister Isabella.
Miller, in his 14th season as the head coach of the Catamounts, won SoCon Coach of the Year. Miller is the second SoCon Coach of the Year from WCU, joining Debbie Hensley who won the honor in 2001.
“I am most proud of Miller said. “Our women’s soccer team last spring had a 3.84 team GPA and led the athletic department in community service hours.”
Miller expressed how proud he is of this season’s team and staff, seeing a bright future for the women’s soccer program.
A season of victories
The Cats carried their win streak into October with two back-to-back shut outs against Wofford on Oct. 1 and Chattanooga on Oct. 5 with scores of 5-0 and 2-0.
WCU triumphed over Mercer on Oct. 8 winning 2-1, then shut out The Citadel 3-0 on Oct. 12 and VMI 4-0 on Oct. 15.
The Catamounts concluded their regular season with a 1-2 loss against ETSU (Oct. 22). Their final record overall was
The Catamounts were shut out by the Clemson Tigers (Sept. 3) ending with a 5-0 score. Clemson’s women’s soccer team is currently ranked 7th in the nation.
The game against WCU’s archrival Appalachian State was eventually cancelled due to lightning strikes that delayed the game two hours from the scheduled kickoff.
On Sept. 10, the women tied with East Carolina, then followed that game with two shutout games against Presbyterian College on Sept. 14 and Samford on Sept. 21 with scores of 4-0 and 1-0.
The Catamounts lost 2-1 against Furman (Sept. 24) then turned around and began their end-of-season winning streak with a 4-0 shutout against UNCG (Sept. 28).
The Catamounts kicked off their season with three back-to-back wins against Marshall (Aug. 5), Davidson (Aug. 8) and UNC Asheville (Aug. 17). The final scores were 2-1, 4-0 and 1-0 respectively.
The win streak was broken Aug. 20 with a 0-0 tie with Queens University of Charlotte, but was followed by a 5-1 win against Winthrop Aug. 23.
The Catamounts saw their first loss against UT Martin (Aug. 27) with a close score of 1-2 and followed by a 2-2 tie with Georgia State (Aug. 31).