Dynasty Goalkeeping is proud to announce the signing of Megan “Ping” Kinneman as our first sponsored professional athlete. 2016 will be her second year under contract with Dynasty. Megan is a true product of Dynasty Goalkeeping having begun her journey with us in 2007 at age 14, attending camp every summer into her college years when
she transitioning into a staff coach and continues with us today, (time permitting based on her busy playing career).
Megan embodies fully all of what we represent and develop in our athletes: competitive, disciplined, and confident athletes both on AND off the field. At 5’4 she has had to work harder than the average goalkeeper for EVERY morsel of success she has attained. At that height she was (and still is) often overlooked, so she had to focus that much more attention on what she could control; her technique, her mentality, her fitness, her explosive power, her attitude, her decision making, her confidence, her communication, her positioning. No detail overlooked. She is the consummate professional always looking to fine tune her craft and raise her game. I respect and admire her passion and tenacity greatly. She never quits, never plays the victim, never places blame on coaches that look beyond her, never dwells in the past, never makes excuses, never whines, never complains. Instead she has just quietly gotten to work each and every day with a single focus to carve out a niche for herself and make her dream of becoming a professional soccer player a reality. This is what makes her a winner, role model, leader, and ideal “Face of Dynasty” as we move into our 2nd decade of operation. She is the future of Dynasty Goalkeeping.
ADELAIDE GAY – Sweden
Congratulations to former student and staff coach Ade Gay on her contribution from the back helping her team win their division to move up to the top tier of the Swedish pro league, the Damallsvenskan, next season! Here is a short news clip announcing their promotion from the Damallsvenskan website:
Yes, they did it! After a comfortable 6-0 win over league newcomers Östersund, Kvarnsvedens IK secured their Damallsvenskan spot for the 2016 season with four games to play. It is safe to claim that a series of historical performances finally resulted in a historical result for the Borlänge side, which has never played on the top tier of Swedish soccer before. Even a quick glance at league’s standings shows that no other team deserved the promotion more than Kvarnsveden, who are currently on a nineteen-game unbeaten run! Of course, every single player in the squad contributed towards this enormous success but there are three names that stood out from the well-organized Borlänge-based winning machine and therefore definitely deserve a special mention. Ex-Washington and Portland keeper Adelaide Gay, who used to train alongside Ashlyn Harris and Karina LeBlanc, would undoubtedly be the first-choice goalkeeper for the 2015 Elitettan all-star team. Sarah Elnicky brilliantly orchestrated team’s play both defensive- and offensive-wise. The third player who needs to be mentioned in relation to Kvarnsveden’s successful campaign is already a huge star in Sweden. Tabita Chawinga, the teenage prodigy from Malawi, scored unbelievable thirty five goals (!) in her twenty one league appearances and her name is surely present on the shortlist of every top club within Europe. Should both Chawinga and Damallsvenskan top scorer Gaelle Enganamouit decide to remain in Sweden, we might expect even more magic from these two amazing African strikers in the nearest future. Meanwhile, huge congratulations to Kvarnsveden once again! Enjoy your moment and see you in Damallsvenskan next year!
In addition I would also encourage you to check out Ade’s new website! She has some outstanding videos from her college and semi-pro days, as well as Bundesliga gk highlights and England NT training session clips that are very beneficial and inspirational!
KELSEY QUINN – Melbourne, Australia
Congratulations to Kelsey Quinn on working her way up from the second division in Australia to the premier division, the Westfield W League this fall. Quinn, who has been the starting gk for Heidelberg the past 2 years has been rostered as the reserve gk for Melbourne City FC this fall. Melbourne City is currently sitting 1st in the league and Kelsey has been on and off the roster based on injuries to the other gks ahead of her on the depth chart. She continues to work hard and fight for her opportunities to play at the highest professional level, but the experience gained in training with top international stars such as Jess Fishlock (Welsh WNT), Kim Little (Scottish WNT), Aivi Luik (Australian WNT), and Lisa DeVanna (Australian WNT) is immeasurable! Every step gets her closer to her ultimate goal, but in the meantime she continues to coach, work, train, and live her dream of playing professionally abroad. Way to go Quinnie!
ASHLYN HARRIS – November 2, 2015 – Orlando, FL
Great news for the NWSL! First they are the first women’s professional league to survive past year three of existence and are continuing to build. Second they are expanding! The first expansion team to enter was the Houston Dash in 2014, next up the Orlando Pride recently announced they will enter league play in 2016. But the best news is that former Dynasty GK staff coach and current U.S. Women’s National Team goalkeeper, Ashlyn Harris was traded from Washington Spirit to the Orlando Pride. Having grown up in central Florida (hometown Satellite Beach, FL) Harris said it was a dream come true to be traded to Orlando and return home. She continues to train like a beast and is as passionate as ever both on and off the field as she continues to mature as a player and embrace her responsibility as a role model. I love watching her play and hope she continues to shine for the US WNT and Orlando in 2016!
If you haven’t seen her play you need to watch this highlight video of some of her best NWSL saves. Some GREAT stuff!
In addition to her outstanding abilities in goal she has an amazing story that ALL players could benefit from hearing, one that I imagine took a lot of courage to share, but thankfully for many young girls and boys out there, she did, as I’m sure many will relate to her struggles.
Harris endured a very difficult childhood growing up in a small, mostly poor town in Florida. Her family has a history of addiction and Harris was a self-proclaimed ‘wild child’ who struggled in school and to maintain her focus. Soccer was and continues to be her a “way out” to see the world, finish college, and support organizations that she believes in like the depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide focused non-profit, To Write Love on Her Arms. It is through TWLOHA that she has begun to share her story more openly. You can listen to a speech she gave for TWLOHA here.
She also recently was featured on Purpose 2 Play
ALL GREAT VIDEOS THAT YOU NEED TO WATCH!
MEGAN KINNEMAN – Bergen, Norway
Congratulations to Megan “Ping” Kinneman on her successful start at Arna-Bjornar. Standing tall at 5’4 she has had to work exceptionally hard every step of the way to prove herself time and time again to all the doubters and naysayers. An accomplished college gk at LSU, Kinneman has fought hard for 2 years since graduating to work her way up the ladder and break into the pro ranks. She spent much of her time as a reserve with the NWSL Houston Dash these past 2 years getting up to speed with the pro level learning from experienced veteran Dash gks Erin McLeod and Bianca Henninger as well as training against several US Women’s National Team players day in and day out. Finally this past summer she had an opportunity for a trial in Norway and she didn’t think twice. It was exactly the chance she had been waiting for and there has been no looking back. She quickly established herself as the starter upon arrival in Bergen and proved her worth in the second half of the season. Subsequently she was recently re-signed for a full season in 2016! She is currently the only foreigner retained under contract on her team which indicates how much the manager felt she was worth — making sure he didn’t lose a key player on their squad! So it will be a short winter holiday in Houston for Ping and then back to experience winter in Norway in January! BRRR! Hope you are investing in lots of hats and layers Ping!!! Maybe with some luck you’ll get to see the Northern lights!
CAROLINE STANLEY – Seattle, Washington
Caroline worked hard to earn herself a contract and roster spot with the Seattle Reign this past fall. Her journey began in March as a reserve goalkeeper, but she continued to fight and made the most of her opportunity to learn and grown as a goalkeeper when starter Hope Solo was busy over the summer winning a World Cup with the U.S. Women’s National team. You can read more about her season in her own words at this blog post.
KELSEY WYS – November 30th, 2015 – Washington D.C.
After 2 seasons in the NWSL playing with the Western New York Flash (2014) and Washington Spirit (2015) Kelsey Wys is becoming a more seasoned professional player. This past summer she took on the starting role for the Spirit when U.S. Women’s National Team goalkeeper, Ashlyn Harris was busy with World Cup duty and earned valuable minutes. The experience is paying off as the Washington Spirit recently announced that the club has signed goalkeeper Kelsey Wys to a new contract for the 2016 NWSL season. Wys, 24, a former Dynasty Goalkeeping student, started 11 games for the Spirit in 2015. The Coral Springs, FL native made 35 saves and recorded three shutouts. Wys, a U.S. Youth National Team gk, enjoyed a very successful career at Florida State University where she holds 17 program goalkeeping records, including minutes played (8,518), wins (74), shutouts (45), and starts (96). And now that starter Ashlyn Harris has been traded to the Orlando Pride the door is wide open for Wys to continue to establish herself in the league as one of the league younger emerging stars.
Congratulations to the following Dynasty Goalkeeping students and their well-deserved honors this fall. (sorry to any of you out there that I missed!)
DYNASTY GOALKEEPER POST-SEASON HONOR ROLL
- Emily Armstrong (Junior) University of Connecticut
American Athletic Conference Goalkeeper of the Year
American Athletic Conference Goalkeeper of the Week (Oct. 12, 2015)
Armstrong started in 22 of 23 matches her junior season for a total of 1923:18 minutes finishing the season with an 18-4 record, a 0.94 goals against average and a .794 save percentage. She helped the team go undefeated 10-0 at home allowing only two goals at Morrone Stadium all season.
- Holly Burwick (Senior) Amherst College
2nd Team D3soccer.com All-American
1st Team NSCAA Scholar All-American (2nd Team in 2014)
1st Team NSCAA Scholar All-East Region (1st Team in 2014)
1st Team NSCAA All-New England Region (2nd Team in 2014)
1st Team All-NESCAC (2nd Team in 2014)
Burwick finished her outstanding four-year career between the posts for Amherst with a 0.59 goals against average in 2015, 95 saves, and just 10 goals allowed as Amherst posted an 11-3-3 overall record and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division III Championship tournament before losing in penalties to Brandeis College. In addition Holly has excelled in the classroom elevating her 2nd Team NSCAA Scholar All-American status in 2014 to 1st Team in 2015.
- Caroline Casey (Senior) William & Mary
Team Captain (2015, 2014)
2015 Senior CLASS Award 1st Team
1st Team NSCAA All American
1st Team NSCAA Mid-Atlantic Region
1st Team All-Colonial Athletic Association (3rd Team in 2014)
Colonial Athletic Association Defensive Player of the Year
1st Team Eastern Coast Athletic Conference Eastern Coast Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year
Caroline is a very strong student at William & Mary. She is on track to graduate with a degree in Kinesiology & Health Sciences with a concentration in Pre-Med. Casey has also won awards for her work in the classroom both through the school and in the Colonial Athletic Association. She won a Provost Award (3.5 GPA, or higher) in 2015, while also receiving induction in Chi Alpha Sigma, which is a National Athlete Honor Society for a junior or senior athlete with a 3.5 GPA, or higher.
A two-time captain for the Tribe women’s soccer team, Casey shows her leadership skills both on the field and off of it. As a two-time captain, last year she helped the Tribe to a 12-win season. This season in her second campaign as captain she helped seven new players to the roster in the preseason, and helped the Tribe to the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament, a CAA regular season title, and 14 victories. Off of the field, she is a Branch Out Leader, which is an organization that comes up with alternative spring breaks were W&M students can participate in service work. After being a participant in the program during her sophomore year, she became a site leader last year. Casey was responsible for planning pre-trip meetings, creating educational materials, coordinating logistics with our host site and community partner, and day-to-day activities at each of the centers. Casey is also a member of Gamma Phi Beta Sorority, where she helps plan and execute community service work. With an already busy soccer schedule, she gives up some of her school breaks working with Senior Connections, and also made a trip to Nicaragua last winter of 2014 to do medical work.
Last, but not least, Casey started every game of her Tribe career dating back to her freshman season and is one of the best goalkeepers in W&M history. She currently ranks second all-time with 301 career saves, while her 29 shutouts rank her third all-time. This season she owns a 0.88 goals-against-average, with 86 saves, and 11 shutouts. She owns a 48-18-12 career record with 29 shutouts and plans to continue playing professionally in 2016.
- Julie Eckel (RS Senior) Tennessee
Team Captain (2015)
First Team All-SEC
Top Drawer Soccer Team of the Week (Sept. 15)
SEC Defensive Player of the Week (Sept. 14)
Top Drawer Soccer Team of the Week Honorable Mention (Sept. 8)
SEC Defensive Player of the Week (Aug. 31)
The red shirt senior posted a season-opening shutout with four saves vs. Lipscomb (8/21) after sitting out the 2014 season due to a ruptured Achilles’ tendon and went 396 minutes without conceding a goal to begin the 2015 season. She went on to start every game posting a 0.818 save percentage with 81 saves and a 0.94 goals against average; recording 8.1 shutouts in the 2015 season. She became Tennessee’s all-time saves leader (329) and took over the top spot in career games played by a goalie (80).
- Britt Eckerstrom (RS Senior ) Penn State
2015 NCAA College Cup National Champion
Team Co-Captain (2015)
Big 10 Co-Defensive Player of the Week (9/15/15)
Big 10 All-Tournament Team (2015)
Big 10 Defensive Player of the Tournament (2015)
2nd Team All Great Lakes Region Team (2015)
1st Team COSIDA Academic All-District 2 (2015)
Academic All Big 10 (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015)
This Dynasty legend capped off her college career the way every goalkeeper dreams, with a shutout win in the National Championship game! The redshirt senior co-captain played in 15 Nittany Lion shutouts on the season, including eight-straight to end the season. Started all 27 matches in net for PSU and is looking forward to continuing her career professionally in 2016! Keep an eye out for her as her career is far from over!
- Taylor Francis (Junior) University of Pittsburg
Team Co-Captain (2015)
Eastern Coast Athletic Association D1 Defensive Player of the Week (9/30/15)
Over the course of her three year career at Pitt Taylor has started 42 consecutive matches. She has tallied 10 shutouts and owns a 1.75 career goals against average with 232 career saves. She holds the school record for saves in a game (16) and finished the 2015 season tied for second most shutouts (7) in ACC, second most in school history for a single season. She is currently tied for third in school history in goals against average and has registered a 0.756 save percentage over her first three campaigns, which ranks sixth in Pitt history.
- Kylie Hambleton (Senior) Sam Houston State University
1st Team Southland Conference All-Academic Team (2015, 2014, 2013)
Southland Conference All-Tournament Team
Hambleton, a three-time all-academic selection, posted a 3.94 GPA in management information services and is graduating in 3 ½ years. The Katy product and Southland Conference All-Tournament team honoree also ranked second in the conference with a 0.88 goals against average while propelling the Kats to three straight shutouts at the league tournament.
- Stephanie Heber (RS Sophomore) Western Michigan University
3rd Team All-Great Lakes Team
MAC Defensive Player of the Week (Sept. 4, 2015)
MAC Defensive Player of the Week (Sept. 25, 2015)
MAC All-Tournament Team
Heber of Rochester Hills, MI started in all 22 games for the Broncos, helping them to a Mid-American Conference Tournament Championship and a berth in the NCAA Women’s College Cup. She allowed just 15 total goals on the season, recording 11.1 shutouts, just shy of the program record 12 set by Watson back in 2011. She allowed just seven goals during the MAC season to help WMU to a program-tying eight conference wins. Her 14 wins on the season ties her with Watson (2011) and Katie Perz (2003) for the program record.
- Megan Kufeld (Senior) University of Washington
Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the Week (Aug. 31, 2015)
Defensive MVP of the Husky Nike Invitational
All-Time leader at UW in shutouts (21 career)
CoSIDA AcademiC All-American of the Year
1st Team CoSIDA All-American
1st Team CoSIDA Academic All-District 8 (2015, 2014, 2013, 2012)
1st Team Pac-12 All-Academic Team (2015, 2014)
Capping off a stellar academic and athletic collegiate career, UW goalkeeper Megan Kufeld was been named the 2015 CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year for women’s soccer, awarded to the most deserving student-athlete in the nation for performance in the classroom and on the field.
A biology major with a 3.97 G.P.A., Kufeld helped the Huskies to NCAA Tournament appearances in the last two seasons and became Washington’s all-time career shutouts leader this season, recording five shutouts in 2015 to push her total to 21.
“It’s really an honor to be in such great company with the best goalkeeper in the world, Hope Solo. I give credit to the coaching staff that has helped me grow and the great group of players in front of me over the last three years. This is a really cool accomplishment for me, but I couldn’t have done it without so many great teammates and the philosophy we have here that the entire team defends to the death. I’m really fortunate to be at such a great program.” – Megan Kufeld
Prior to her junior season, Kufeld earned the UW President’s Medal as the university’s top student in her class, becoming the first student-athlete to win the award.
She finishes her career with her name all over the Husky record books. In addition to her status as the career shutouts leader, Kufeld recorded a .98 career goals against average, best all-time, and 262 saves, third-most all-time. Her nine shutouts in 2014 and seven in 2013 rank as the second- and fourth-highest single-season totals in program history, respectively. Kufeld also recorded two of the highest single-season save totals all-time, with 88 in 2013 and 87 in 2014, sixth- and seventh-best, respectively.
- Emma Newins (RS Senior) Georgetown University
Big East Goalkeeper of the Week (Sept. 7th, 2015)
Big East Weekly Honor Roll (Sept. 29, 2015)
Pre-Season All Big East Team
Newins started 18 games this year and played in all 19 games finishing her senior season with a 1.20 goals-against average (GAA), a 0.671 save percentage, 49 saves and three shutouts.
- Emma Jane Proctor (Sophomore) Duke University
NCAA College Cup – Most Valuable Defender & All-Tournament Team
TopDrawerSoccer.com National Team of the Week (12/1/15)
A little known fact about Proctor is that she originally committed to play soccer at Clemson. Huge loss for the Tigers, but BIG gain for the Blue Devils! Proctor recalls that she didn’t feel like it was the place for her midway through her senior year in high school. While nerve-wracking at the time, Proctor knows she made the right choice to become a Blue Devil.
“I wanted to be close to home and I had known about Abby [Pyne] growing up,” said Proctor. “She was one of the best goalkeepers of her age and I knew she was going to have to redshirt all of our freshman year so I knew Duke was probably going to need a goalkeeper. So, honestly, I just got lucky with the timing. But Duke and being here is better than anything I had ever envisioned. I never thought some of those things could actually happen. It’s a pretty cool feeling.”
Proctor, a native of Wilson, NC grabbed hold of the starting spot in 2015 as a sophomore after biding her time behind fellow Dynasty goalkeeper Alex Kershner in 2014. Proctor played in 12 games with one start as a rookie in 2014, but readily admits she wasn’t playing at the level or with the confidence she knew she was capable. However in 2015, after a summer training at Dynasty as a student and on staff along with a lot of hard work on her own and with her gk coach at Duke, Brandon Gwin, Proctor became a pivotal player in one of the Blue Devils best seasons ever and 3rd trip to the NCAA Championship match in program history. While they fell one game short of the title the Blue Devils had an amazing turn around from 8-9-1 in 2014 to 14-6-5 in 2015. Individually Proctor finished 2015 with 11 shutouts on the season, which led the ACC and ranks second on the Duke all-time charts.
“We changed the team culture so much and became really close and decided that that’s what’s going to have to be most important despite how much talent we have,” Proctor said. “I think really being comfortable with them added to my confidence and belief in myself this year.”
- Dayton Wetherby (Junior) U.S. Naval Academy
3rd Team All-Patriot League
Corvias Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Week (Oct. 12, 2015)
Wetherby played in 20 matches while starting in 19 recording 88 saves for an .800 save percentage with a 1.21 goals-against average and four solo shutouts. She tallied a season-high 10 saves at Army West Point (9/18) in a 2-2 tie and recorded three-straight league shutouts from 9/30 versus Lehigh to 10/10 at Bucknell to begin a stretch of 356:02 scoreless minutes.
|149||Charlotte McCormack/Clayton State||1.419|
|1 (18 in 2014)||Lauren Thomas/Puget Sound||0.13 (0.523 in 2014)|
|1||Lauren Thomas/Puget Sound||0.940|
|6 (6 in 2014)||Holly Burwick/Amherst College||0.905 (0.882 in 2014)|
|19||Hannah Walsh/Centenary College||0.882|
|157||Holly Burwick/Amherst College||5.59|
|1||Lauren Thomas/Puget Sound||19 (36 career)|
|148||Holly Burwick/Amherst College||95|
ROSE CHANDLER– December 3-13, 2015 – San Pedro Sula, Honduras
Congratulations to Dynasty goalkeeper Rose Chandler winning the Golden Glove as the best goalkeeper of the tournament posting 3 straight shutouts in the final group stage game, semi-final, and final en route to the CONCACAF U20 Championship and qualification for the upcoming 2016 U20 Women’s World Cup. As a reserve goalkeeper on the 2014 U20 U.S. Women’s World Cup Team it has been a goal of Chandler’s to become the starting goalkeeper and lead U.S. back to a youth world championship. Thus far she and her U20 teammates are off to a strong start with the only blemish being the 2-2 tie in the 1st round to Mexico. Following the opener against Mexico the U.S. went on a tear winning 6-1 over Panama, 7-0 over Honduras, 6-0 over Haiti in the semi’s, and 1-0 over Canada in the final. Way to go Rose!!! You are one step closer to solidifying your spot!!! Next stop U20 World Cup in Papua New Guinea!
JULIE ECKEL – October 27th, 2015 – Knoxville, TN
As former Dynasty student and staff coach Julie Eckel’s soccer career comes to a close at the University of Tennessee I thought it would be best to reprint the following article that describes the impact Eckel has had on the UT women’s soccer program. She is not only a tremendous athlete and goalkeeper, but a tremendous person who truly embodies the Dynasty program. Congratulations Julie on all of your well deserved honors and impressive career!
In addition you really need to watch this video from ESPNW on her “Defining Moments”
The following article by Brian Rice is reprinted from the University of Tennessee women’s soccer website.
If the script had gone according to plan, Julie Eckel wouldn’t even be at the University of Tennessee right now.
Her senior year should have played out a year ago, with another stellar season putting her at or near the top of every statistical category for goalkeepers in Tennessee history. She would be out in the working world, a proud alum of her home state school.
But life, particularly a sporting life, rarely plays out the way the script is written. A season-ending injury prior to the 2014 season may have actually put Eckel exactly where she needed to be with the support she needed to lean on during the most challenging time in her life.
A Season Ended
Eckel had all of Tennessee’s goalkeeper records in her sights heading into her senior season.
Her career to that point had been a stellar display of maturity and growth, combined with pure athleticism and ability to play her position that had not been often seen in program history. Eckel came to Tennessee in 2011 from across the state in Cordova, just outside of Memphis, and seized the starting job in goal from day one.
“Julie is a focused young lady in whatever aspect of her life she is working towards,” said Joe Kirt, Tennessee’s goalkeepers coach for the last nine seasons. “That has been consistent throughout her time here. She is focused and goal-driven. When she came in, she was very solid. As goalkeepers grow, they get better, experience helps them. Every year she has taken strides to get better.”
Her first game in goal resulted in a pressure-packed 2-1 overtime win at Kansas. Nine days later, she held 18th-ranked Texas A&M scoreless for the first shutout of her career. From that game, she stopped 23 consecutive shots on goal as Tennessee shutout five consecutive opponents, a school record.
Over her first three seasons, Eckel would start 61 matches, recording 254 saves and 23 shutouts. All of those numbers had her almost assured of breaking UT records with a solid senior season.
But she did not even make it to the first practice of her senior year before injury struck.
On the first day back on campus for summer workouts, she planted her foot to change direction from backpedaling to running forward and felt a pop behind her ankle. Her Achilles Tendon had ruptured and the anchor of the Volunteers’ defense was on the shelf for the season.
She looked ahead at a seven-month recovery from surgery. A fierce competitor that played three sports at St. Benedict at Auburndale High School was not only out of the game, she could not even put weight on her injured leg for six weeks.
“It was a really different perspective for me to see the team from the sideline,” Eckel said. “It was a chance to grow as a leader and a teammate and as a person.”
There was no doubt that she would invest everything she had in her recovery. Eckel scheduled her physical therapy sessions around practices so she could still be there for her teammates. But the injury still left the question of whether she would be the same player when she came back.
“It was a question mark,” Kirt said. “It is not an injury that we see very often in our sport, so we didn’t really have any personal experience with how players respond to that type of injury.”
Eckel had her own concerns, but they quickly went away as she was slowly cleared to resume training.
“I was worried about my vertical and my explosive strength,” Eckel said of two of the traits that make her so special in goal. “By the time I started walking, my leg was half the size of the other one. But through our normal strength training and everything our staff did, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It came back pretty quick and I’m back to where I want to be physically.”
A Moment That Changed Everything
The next step in Eckel’s recovery was getting back on the field for Tennessee’s spring practices.
She had seen classmates Allie Sirna, Cheyanne Spade and Brittney Wade go through senior day without her, but getting back on the field and in goal was worth the wait. Through the spring schedule, she continued to make progress toward becoming the Julie Eckel that fans, coaches and teammates expected.
“It was a coordinated effort between our staff, our sports medicine staff and Julie to be in communication about what we could do each week, how could we progress early on,” Kirt said of her recovery. “It was a lengthy process, but we didn’t want to push anything. We fit in what we could in every moment and I think that was the key to her success.”
She was standing in goal when news came that would change her life forever.
Eckel’s parents had called her roommates trying to get ahold of her. They were able to reach head coach Brian Pensky on the practice field with the message.
“We were in the middle of a scrimmage and he told me to come there, so I adjusted my position, thinking that’s what he was telling me to do,” Eckel said. “I went over to the sideline and he said `We need to start walking toward the locker room.’ He had me call my parents and that’s when I was told.”
Eckel’s brother Brad, a 2013 Tennessee graduate in Mechanical Engineering had passed away after suffering an epileptic seizure in Houston, where he was a proposals engineer for OneSubsea. He was just 24 years old.
She fell to the ground on the sideline, Pensky by her side to help her into the locker room.
“He was planning his flight nearly a year out to come in for senior night,” Eckel said of her brother. “He was really excited about certain events for this season, like coming in for a football weekend and everything that comes with being at Tennessee.”
She went home to prepare for the services with her family, her Tennessee family grieving for their teammate from afar. The team had scrimmages against Duke and Georgia scheduled for the weekend, but this was more important than any game they could play.
“There was never a doubt in any of our minds,” Kirt said. “We asked the players and it wasn’t even a question. We needed to be there for Julie. I think it speaks volumes for the character of our team and who we are.”
Instead of a bus for competitions, the team boarded vans for a trip to the Memphis area for the funeral.
“To see the whole team load up vans and have the coaches drive them there was unbelievable,” Eckel said. “I was blown away. After the service, people told me that seeing the team there was unbelievable. That was huge for me and for my parents. I can’t thank them enough for that huge gesture.”
The injury and the redshirt year had kept her in the Tennessee family, and they were there when she needed them most. After 10 days at home, she returned to Knoxville with the knowledge that her team was there for her at every moment of the day.
“Julie is such a rock,” junior Emily Morrow said. “She is the rock of our team and is one of the strongest people I have ever met. Losing a family member is heartbreaking and devastating and her strength is unbelievable and has inspired all of us.”
The soccer family came together to welcome her back to campus.
“It was a difficult time for all of us,” Kirt said. “It’s one of those moments in coaching that you never think about and there’s no way to prepare for it. You just want to be there. You develop relationships with your players and you want the best for them. You have something like that happen and it’s hard for everybody. You just want to do everything in your power to make it better.”
The support meant everything to Eckel.
“It was definitely the darkest time and the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with, but I had the support from all angles,” she said. “They gave me everything I needed to deal with the situation. Having the team and my friends and my family and the coaches, it really helped me get through it.”
Back In Action
Instead of summer school, Eckel remained home with her family for much of the summer, but returned for her final preseason camp ready to finish the season that never got off the ground a year earlier.
The first thing she had to do was make peace with the soccer field. The same place that had ended her season a summer earlier. The same place where her life had changed.
“It was an adjustment for me going back to the soccer field,” Eckel said. “When I’m on the field, I see that spot where I was told the news and it brings back memoires.”
If there was any question whether she would be the same player, they were quickly answered with three consecutive shutouts to start the season. She did not allow a goal over the first 396 minutes of the season.
“Even last year having the year off, she probably saw some things that she hadn’t seen when she had been playing,” Kirt said. “I think the little things that she has picked up along the way have helped. I’m really proud of her for the steps she has taken. She has been so consistent this year and it goes back to her focus and her mental approach. She has been so focused on being great.”
Those records she was chasing? She nearly has every one. She passed Ellen Dean for the top spot in matches started with 78 and counting. Her 31 shutouts have Eckel one away from taking the top spot from Vanessa Phillips-Bosshart, who she already passed for No. 1 on the minutes played list.
“She brings a lot on and off the field,” said midfielder Carlyn Baldwin. “She is a great leader vocally and she leads by example. She is an amazing teammate and an amazing friend. What she’s gone through is something we can’t even imagine and seeing her strength and her ability to keep positive during one of the darkest times she has ever been through is inspiring to all of us.”
Her teammates are quick to credit Eckel, but it is those teammates that she has relied on the most.
“I wouldn’t be able to have the season I’m having and be able to play for Brad if it wasn’t for all of the people that have been there for me,” she said.
She has played for Brad with his initials on the tape on her wrists. Fellow senior Susan Ferguson had black armbands made with the initials on them that the entire team wore in the opening match of the season. For the rest of the year, Eckel’s teammates have joined her in writing Brad’s initials on their wrists. Eckel plays for her brother, her teammates play for her.
“Seeing her out on the field and being so passionate about the game makes us all want to play harder,” Morrow said. “For ourselves and for her.”
And on senior day, the day her brother had long planned to share with her, Eckel had another record to break. She finished with five saves to take the top spot on Tennessee’s career saves list from Dean.
One more honor and another match dedicated to him.
“It has given me a different perspective of not only soccer, but my daily interactions and relationships,” she said of how the last year has changed her. “I’m more conscious and aware of being in the moment.”
EJ PROCTOR & ABBY PYNE – October 18th, 2015 – Durham, NC
Both sophomore goalkeeper Emma Jane Proctor and redshirt freshman goalkeeper Abby Pyne of Duke have attended Dynasty Goalkeeping, but neither knew each other before arriving on the Durham, NC college campus. Both goalkeepers were standout youth players in their clubs, both having attending youth National Team camps as well. Both are incredible talented and fiercely competitive with the talent to start at a top ACC school such as Duke University. However, instead of focusing the fury against each other, they have found a way to foster a unique friendship in a position and role that usually pits teammates against one another. Their friendship was forged last season when Pyne was forced to redshirt due to ongoing serious knee problems and Proctor was struggling as a freshman to find her way in a reserve role for the first time in her career (ironically behind yet another Dynasty gk, Alex Kershner!). Fast forward to 2015 … Pyne battles daily with knee pain just to go upstairs, let alone train at a high level, and Proctor was thrust into the starting role in a very competitive conference with little match experience from 2014. Yet the two confide in each other, and support each other both on and off the field as the best of friends. It is an unparalleled example of what it means to be a true teammate – selflessly and genuinely giving to the other. The following is a blog written by EJ Proctor this past fall about her teammate Abby. Her words describe the friendship and love they share best. This is just one of the many reasons why Duke had such an unbelievable fall season making it to the 2015 NCAA College Cup Final before falling to Penn State (and fellow Dynasty legend Britt Eckerstrom) 1-0. TEAM CHEMISTRY
Proctor Blog: The Definition of a Teammate
When I googled the definition of “teammate,” it was a very simple definition: a fellow member of a team. There is no definition reading a fellow member of a team who is the biggest supporter to another teammate; there is no definition to define teammate as a fellow member of a team who always has his or her team’s back; most of all, there is no definition saying a teammate must be someone’s friend. Despite the definition, one of my teammates, Abby Pyne, is all of that and more for me.
Abby and I are both goalkeepers, and yes, we knew from the beginning it was going to be the two of us fighting for one spot. We also knew from the beginning that we would be in the same class, and yes, we knew it could be hard to have a good friendship in that situation.
Abby had a knee surgery our senior year of high school and many doctors doubted she would ever see the field again. Regardless, she rehabbed and she continued to believe that one day, she would suit up in a Duke jersey and prove those doctors wrong. Believe it or not, she did.
I had the opportunity to watch Abby play against Clemson, Fresno State, Weber State, and William & Mary, and it was an incredibly humbling feeling. It is really something special to see a teammate accomplish a dream so many believed would never happen. It’s so rewarding to see the countless hours of rehab and uncomfortable knee pain pay off. But, it wasn’t only special for that reason; it was special for so many reasons that only I can understand.
Abby has pushed me to be a better goalkeeper more than anyone else ever has throughout our time training together. Even though her knees keep her from playing as much as she would like, she never lets that take away from being an incredible teammate.
Before every game, she gives me a pep talk and makes sure when I step on the field, I believe in myself. When I make a good save, the first thing I hear is her voice congratulating me. When I make a mistake, she is the first one I hear picking me up. If I’m ever losing confidence, she is the first one to build me back up.
Abby goes beyond the definition of teammate, and she does it day in and day out. She is the type of teammate I challenge myself to be more like, and the kind of friend I hope to be to others.
Abs, thank you for being my teammate, my biggest fan, my friend, and of course, the Goose to my Maverick.
KATHARINE ASMAN – October 11-18th, 2015 – Carson, CA
Congrats to Kat being called into yet another U16 U.S. Girls National Team training camp, the final for the U16 pool in 2015. She also attended camps with the U16’s in May/June as well as August and has been involved with the youth National team program at the U15 level prior.
All of the players in this camp are age-eligible for the next FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in 2016, but the main birth year for that tournament is 1999. This age group is in a two-year cycle that will transition to the U-18 and then the U-20 WNT with the goal of playing in the 2020 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup.
KAYSHA BAILEY – October 27th, 2015 – Lewiston, ID
Congratulations to Kaysha who was named Honorable Mention on Idaho’s 5A All-State First Team.
MARZIA JOSEPHSON – November 20-27th, 2015 – Sunrise, FL
Kudos to Marzia getting called back in with the U15 U.S. Girls National Team for their final training camp of the year. This age group, which will be the U-15 GNT once again in 2016 before transitioning to U-17s the following year, will form the core of the team that will attempt to qualify for the 2018 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.