Beyond the ACCtion: Three's (Good) Company
Oct. 4, 2012
It has often been said that good things come in threes, and you will get no argument from those associated with Wake Forest women’s soccer.
In a span of five weeks early in the 2012 season, Coach Tony da Luz and two Demon Deacon All-Americans reached significant career milestones.
The flurry began on August 26 at Charlotte, when goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe recorded her school-record 19th shutout. It continued on Sept. 20, when forward Katie Stengel scored a pair of goals against Boston College to become the all-time Wake Forest leader in goals scored (38) and in points (91).
And with last Sunday’s 4-0 win at Clemson, da Laz notched his 200th career coaching victory at Wake Forest. Da Luz is the second women’s soccer head coach to win 200 games while coaching in the ACC, trailing only North Carolina’s legendary Anson Dorrance (734 win in 34 seasons).
“I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished here at Wake,” da Luz said. “It’s a symbol of consistency and performance – not just the number of wins, but the consecutive postseason streak and the progress we’ve shown as a program over the last five years. The wins are just a reflection of all the work we’ve put in, with players like Katie and Aubrey, and our senior class.”
Bledsoe’s shutout record came in the fourth game of the Cincinnati, Ohio, native’s junior season and the 54th game of her career. Bledsoe has since added four more shutouts to give her in 23 for her career and has started each of the Demon Deacons’ 63 matches since she set foot on campus.
"I was lucky to come in here as a freshman and have Tony and the coaching staff have confidence in me to step in," said Bledsoe, who in her first season earned MVP honors of the 2010 ACC Championship. "It just shows what a great defense we have and what a great team this is."
Stengel, also a junior, reached Wake’s two most prominent scoring records in just 51 games after missing some time the past two seasons. She was sidelined for two matches in 2011 with a knee injury and missed the first eight games of 2012 while playing for the United States FIFA Under-20 World Cup team that captured the gold medal in Japan.
“Missing all those games was hard because I wasn’t here and had other commitments,” said Stengel, who has now tallied 91 career points. “But since coming back, I’m just hoping to do as well as I can each game, and if the goals come, that’s awesome.”
Stengel was one of eight student-athletes from ACC schools that helped the U.S. squad bring home the gold.
“With the time difference, we’d wake up as early as we could and check on our (college teams’) games on Twitter and follow on Gametracker,” Stengel said “Then at breakfast, that’s all we would talk about. It was hard being away, but it was also kind of cool, all being together and seeing how well all the teams were doing, even though we couldn’t be there.”
It is somewhat rare to see two school records the magnitude of those held by Stengel and Bledsoe achieved almost simultaneously, but it helps explain why their tenure includes an ACC Championship, two NCAA Tournament appearances and a College Cup berth (2011). The Demon Deacons are currently ranked as high as 12th nationally heading into Friday night’s ACC game at No. 6 Virginia (7 p.m., ACC Digital Network on YouTube).
“You can never expect this kind of performance or predict this kind of performance,’” da Luz said. “When they are freshmen, you hope things are going to materialize, and you hope they have potential to be good players. But to perform at the ACC level and get this kind of results is just something you dream of.
“We got really lucky. I knew they were going to be good, but I didn’t know they were going to be great. And that’s what they are turning out to be.”
Da Luz arrived at Wake Forest in 1997 after a five-year stint at his alma mater, San Diego, where he started and built the women’s program from the ground up.
“I originally didn’t plan on staying this long,” da Luz said. “Coming from San Diego and having most of my family back there on the West Coast, I thought I’d come out, get great experience in the ACC and maybe move back and get back with the family and all that. But things just kept building and building, and it made it a really easy choice for me to stay.”
Da Luz is only the 10th coach in Wake Forest school history to post 200 wins in any sport, and joins field hockey coach Jennifer Averill as the only coaches do reach that number in a women’s sport. Averill – who is currently six wins shy of 300 at Wake – and men’s soccer coach Jay Vidovich (248 wins) join Da Luz as the only active members of the Demon Deacons’ 200 Club.
Da Luz recalled his first win at Wake Forest, which coincided with the official opening of Spry Stadium on Aug. 29, 1997.
“We opened the stadium against Florida State,” da Luz recalled. “I still remember to this day – it’s our first game and (athletic director) Ron Wellman is sitting up in the stands watching. Florida State comes in, and they are a new program at the time. We give up a goal probably a minute into the game. I turn around and look at Ron and I’m like, ‘Oh, man – not a great start.’ But we came back and won the game 2-1.”
The 199 wins that followed have provided more fond memories, such as Wake Forest’s 1-0 win over defending NCAA champion North Carolina at Spry on Oct. 27, 2000, and a 1-0 win at South Carolina in the third round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament. The latter win came on Jill Hutchinson’s goal as time expired.
“That was a fantastic, fantastic game,’’ said da Luz. “To win, away, in front of 5,000-plus at South Carolina was unbelievable.”
But that kind of win has become more commonplace, thanks to the presence of Stengel, Bledsoe and other talented players.
“There aren’t many better jobs in the country than here at Wake,” da Luz said. “We’re super happy here, and we hope to bring many more championships here in women’s soccer.”
These women’s soccer milestones at Wake Forest were among several reached during the first half of the ACC Olympic sports season. Listed below are several others achieved thus far.
Karen Shelton (North Carolina) – Notched her 100th career ACC coaching victory with the top-ranked Tar Heels scoring7-3 win over No. 19 Duke. Shelton, who owns 539 wins overall, has led UNC to six national titles.
Michele Madison (Virginia) – Won the 300th game of her coaching career with the Cavaliers' 5-4 victory over No. 3 Old Dominion on Sept. 2. Madison is just the 26th head coach in NCAA Division I history to hit the 300 win mark. "It is such a great achievement for Michelle Madison," said redshirt senior midfielder Michelle Vittese "She is fabulous. She is one of the best coaches I have ever had … I’m so lucky I got to spend four years with her.”
Virginia (team) – Reached 500 program wins with a 2-0 shutout of 12th-ranked Boston University on Sept. 23. Since 1973, the Cavaliers have amassed a record of 500-266-21 under eight head coaches.
Chris Campbell (Boston College) – Recorded 100th career coaching victory with the Eagles win over Harvard on Sept. 15.
Jolene Jordan Hoover (Clemson) – Won her 400th match with the Tigers as Clemson swept South Carolina State on Aug. 25 and recorded her 500th win as a college head coach in a sweep of Georgia State on Sept. 13.
Jolene Nagel (Duke) – Picked up her 500th career coaching win as the Blue Devils rallied for a four-set win over Northeastern on Sept. 8. "We had no idea, and that's so coach," said Duke sophomore Kelsey Williams. "I don't even think she knew. We were playing it like it was just any other match and I think that is just symbolic of how she is because every match is worth the same in her mind."
Bryan Bunn (NC State) – After leading the Wolfpack program to its 600th all-time win earlier in the season, Bunn picked up his 400th victory as a head coach last Saturday, when NC State scored a four-set win over Clemson. “It’s a nice number to reach,” Bunn said. “Maybe it just means I’ve been coaching a long time.”
Heather Kahl Holmes (Wake Forest) – Reached 100 wins for her career and at Wake with a pair of wins in the 2012 Invitational on Sept. 1.
Kristen Mewis (Boston College) – Became Boston College’s all-time leading scorer on Sept. 15, when her hat trick against Harvard gave her a career-record 96 points. Mewis had a nine-game scoring streak and now has the two longest scoring streaks in school history after scoring in 11 straight games during the 2010 season. “Tonight she showed why she is the best player to date to wear a BC uniform,” BC coach Alison Foley said of Mewis after the Harvard game.
Mark Krikorian (Florida State) – Picked up his 300th career victory when the Seminoles blanked Arkansas 1-0 on Sept. 9. "Certainly, this milestone speaks to the quality of the players that I have coached during my career and my longevity as well," said Krikorian. "When you work hard at something you want to be successful, but I don't think a lot of coaches are measuring their successes by the number of wins they have. Three hundred wins are a lot of wins and I am certainly thankful for having had the opportunity to coach a lot of good players and to work with a lot of good coaches on my staffs along the way."
Anson Dorrance (North Carolina) – UNC boasts 21 women’s national championships under his watch, but Dorrance also owns a 172-65-21 record in 12 seasons as the Tar Heel men’s coach in the 1970s and 80s. Dorrance passed the 900-mark in total wins earlier this season and owned 906 total victories heading into Thursday night’s home match against Boston College.
North Carolina (team) – When the Tar Heels played Florida to a scoreless draw on Aug. 24, it marked the 800th match in the program’s illustrious history.
Scott Goodwin (North Carolina) – The Tar Heels’ senior goalkeeper became the school’s all-time shutout leader with 29 as the Tar Heels blanked Virginia 1-0 on Sept. 21. Goodwin has since posted two more shutouts to give him seven this season and 31 for his college career.