The First Championship Is Always the Sweetest One

The Old Dominion Women’s soccer team is a prime example of what it means to put in the time and effort for it to finally pay off. ODU captured its first ever Conference USA championship after defeating Southern Miss in the final of the conference tournament by a score of 1-0. 

This is the first time in ODU women’s soccer history that a team not only won the regular season title, but also won the conference tournament. In recent years, the ODU soccer team appeared in the tournament and have never made it past the semifinals after losing to Marshall 2-1. The only conference title that the Lady Monarchs won prior to this season was a conference championship in the Colonial Athletic Association back in 2006. 

Winning the conference tournament is an automatic ticket into the NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament, which is the Monarchs’ second appearance in the postseason. The only other appearance for ODU was when they lost to Wake Forest in the first round of the 2006 NCAA Tournament, 4-0. 

Women’s soccer started their championship campaign back in August, when the student athletes came back to campus. According to the Conference USA preseason poll that is voted on by the coaches in the league, the Monarchs were picked to finish fourth in the East Division of the conference. They started the season at home and defeated the East Carolina Pirates 2-1. ODU finished non-conference play with a 3-2 record, with wins over East Carolina, William & Mary, and Richmond. The Monarchs dropped their matches against NC State and VCU. 

Once conference play came around, the Lady Monarchs kicked it in another gear and went on a four match winning streak to start league play. They defeated UTSA, UAB, Middle Tennessee, and Marshall. In addition, they held four straight shutouts, outscoring the opponents 9-0. The winning streak came to an end at the hands of East Carolina on the road, as the Pirates got their revenge on the Monarchs and won the match up 1-0. The loss did not faze ODU, who went on to defeat Western Kentucky and tied with Charlotte in the next two matches. This propelled the Monarchs into the top of the East Division. 

ODU split the final matches left in conference play with a stunning 1-0 loss at home on senior night against Florida International. They traveled down to Florida and won the regular season finale against Florida Atlantic 2-0. With the win, they secured the No. 1 seed in the East Division of the conference tournament. The Lady Monarchs secured the regular season title and had high expectations going into the postseason conference tournament. They finished the regular season with a 10-4-1 record and (6-1-1 C-USA). 

When asked about conference play in the regular season, Head Coach Angie Wind expressed her excitement for the way her team has played and how the consistency of her team proves how good they can really be. “To play eight games in this conference and concede only one goal is just incredible. We showed again tonight just how much of a squad this really is as so many played a part of this win tonight. That has been the way all season long,” Coach Hind said. “This team has shown such consistency this year and to do what we have done so far and in the manner we have is just fantastic and a real testament to just how good we have been.”

In the quarterfinals of the C-USA tournament, the Monarchs met UTSA. The game was very intense and could have gone either way for both teams. They scored in the first overtime of the match up and prevailed, advancing to the semis. This led them to a face off with Middle Tennessee. After falling behind in the semifinal match early 1-0, the Monarchs struck two goals later in the match and defeated Middle Tennessee 2-1. Because of this, they advanced to the conference championship match for the first time. 

Everything the ODU womens soccer team has done this season came down to this one match because it was a “win or go home” situation. They faced off with Southern Miss, who was also the number one seed, but from the west. An early goal from senior Morgan Hall gave the Monarchs the advantage. The goal was everything that the Monarchs needed. They didn’t allow a goal for the rest of the game and won the match 1-0. This captured their first league title in Conference USA.

“It has been a journey we started eight years ago, and every player who has helped take this program forward year after year to build a platform to get us to this stage today, well this trophy is for all of them too,” Hind said after the championship victory. “They deserve this moment.” Coach Hind surpassed her previous record for wins with Old Dominion with the 13 wins this season. Previously, there was a record of 10 wins in 2019. Two wins in the NCAA Tournament ties the school record in wins in a season. In the 2006 season, there were 15 wins.

The Monarchs looked onto the next goal of the season, which is to win the national championship. The NCAA hosted its Selection Show on Monday, Nov. 8 and revealed the round one slate. ODU will begin its quest for eternal glory when they meet with the top seeded Duke Blue Devils in the first round of the NCAA tournament. No matter what the outcome is in the championship tournament, Old Dominion has proven that they can play among the best collegiate soccer teams in the country. ODU began its journey in the summer not knowing what the future would hold, but their effort on and off the field has awarded the deserving soccer program a historic season to remember.