Minium: ODU Conference United States Women’s Football Championship team took years to build

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Through Harry mini

As she held up the Conference USA women’s football championship trophy, Angie hindthe mind has gone astray.

The ODU head coach thought of the dozens of players and coaches who had come and gone since her and the longtime associate head coach. Michelle barr rolled up their sleeves in 2013 to repair the wreckage of a then-tattered program.

The Monarchs had lost 49 games in four seasons and were 1-13-3 in 2013. Hind and Barr were starting from scratch. It was a colossal rebuilding task, to be sure.

“Go build a championship program,” athletic director Wood Selig told them.

It took eight seasons to build culture, slowly improve talent, and find players with heart and desire. And it all paid off Sunday afternoon on a windswept Florida Atlantic University football field when the Monarchs knocked out Southern Miss, 1-0.

For Hind, this victory was not achieved only by the players on the field.

“Winning the championship means everything to our program,” said Hind. “Because we started this eight years ago. I want to congratulate every alumnus and player who has been involved in building this program until it is now.

“All of our players have learned from the guys who came before them. Everyone who has played with us or coached with us has played a role in this championship.”

Hind and Barr were the common denominator. The Scottish natives had, years earlier, succeeded in overthrowing the program at Dartmouth College and were ready for a new challenge.

“Angie has had some staff turnover, but having Michelle there for all eight seasons, that continuity has really helped,” said Dr. Selig. “They’ve been such a great team.

“I am as happy for Angie and Michelle as I am for the program because they have invested so much in this program. It is so great that they have seen the fruits of their labor.”

The Monarchs have won three games in five days in Boca Raton, winning the first ODU Conference USA title and the program’s first championship since 2006.

To put it in perspective, most of today’s monarchs were not yet in elementary school when the ODU last won a title.

Despite being a defensive slugfest, ODU scored on play worthy of an ESPN SportsCenter highlight.

At the 19th minute, Megan Watts, a junior from Stafford, Va., dribbled into the right side of the box, dragging a defenseman with her. She then slid the ball with her right foot behind her back to the left and, in one movement, made a perfect centering pass from the left foot which Morgan Room headed into the net.

Southern Miss defenders have never had a chance.

“It was a great shot in Megan’s box,” said Hall, the senior Richmond forward.

The defense of the ODU was, as usual, dominant. Directed by Emilie roberts, the fifth-year senior named the tournament’s defensive MVP, the Monarchs stifled Southern Miss, who averaged 2.3 goals per game and scored as many as eight in a game.

ODU (13-4-1) shut out nine teams this season and won six games with one goal.

Roberts called the MVP award “a team award. This award is for the defensive line as a whole. We’ve been great all season and it shows how great we’ve been in this tournament.”

Allie Brimmer, a fifth-year person, said it helped that so many fifth-year people decided to take advantage of an extra year of NCAA eligibility due to the pandemic.

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Like nearly every college team in America, the Monarchs have been locked in a “bubble” much of this past winter and spring because of the pandemic. They were unable to associate with other students and friends in order to avoid infection. Hind said he turned this negative into a plus.

“Each team went through the same thing,” she said. “It’s what we did during this period that made the difference.

“We really tried to get to know each other as people, to feel closer. Our seniors spent a lot of time talking about the program to young players. These girls, they are very close.

ODU dominated the vote for the tournament’s overall squad, with Carla Morich, the junior from Hamburg, Germany, named the offensive MVP.

Morich and Roberts were joined by Ece Turkoglu, the junior from Istanbul, Turkey, and Kasey Perry, the senior goalie from Dayton, Ohio, on the All Tournament Team.

As the Monarchs boarded the bus for the 3-hour journey to Norfolk, Hind said the players would not drop the Championship trophy. He stayed with them in the back of the bus, as the players stomped, hugged and assaulted in front of him.

“I have never seen so many selfies,” said Hind. “Their hands are attached to it, along with any championship banners they could find.”

Under normal circumstances, the team would have flown to Boca Raton. However, their fights against Florida were called off and rather than run the risk of missing the tournament, Hind quickly put his team on a bus.

2021 C-USA Women's Football Championships
Celebrate Morgan hall first half goal

The 15-hour commute added to the fatigue of playing three games in five days, and is even more a testament to the courage and determination of this team.

“We didn’t want any more surprises,” Hind said of renting a bus. “We wanted to control what we could control. It was a tough descent but we recovered.
“It will definitely be a much nicer comeback with silverware.”

Especially for seniors.

“It sounds unreal,” Brimmer said. “We just made the history of our program. For the seniors who are leaving, it was so important, so great.

“To finally get this trophy is just huge.”

And the season is not over. Later today, the Monarchs will find out who and where they play in the NCAA tournament. ODU has never won a game in the NCAA Women’s Football Tournament. It will be the occasion of another first.

Hind said it was a moment anyone wearing ODU blue will forget.

“They are a very special team,” she said. “Our seniors had the talent and the desire to make an impact on this program that took them from July to today.

“We managed to do everything right this year, with the depth and quality of talent. I’m so proud of the way we played.”

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