CUA WOMEN'S SOCCER HISTORY
The first women's soccer team to represent Catholic University took the field in 1981 as a club sport. The original Lady Cardinals played a full schedule of games against other collegiate club teams and community college teams. From 1982 to 1984, the team continued to play an intercollegiate schedule each fall, while also participating in the Washington Area Women's Soccer League in the spring. Throughout these early years, participation in the sport grew as did support from the CUA athletic community.
In 1985, Catholic University sponsored its first varsity season for women's soccer under the leadership of Margaret Clough. The team charged through its inaugural season with a record of eight wins, three losses, and three ties, led by top scorer Marie Hoefler with seven goals and five assists. Successful seasons were to follow with eight wins in 1986 and nine wins in 1987 under coach Pam Cornell.
The 1990s introduced a new era of women's soccer at CUA when the university joined the Capital Athletic Conference. The new conference introduced rivalries with original member schools Mary Washington, St. Mary's, Goucher and Marymount. It also introduced another level of competition for the Cardinals. After posting nine wins in 1991 and reaching the CAC tournament final three consecutive times under coach Chris Godart, a series of rebuilding seasons began to increase the talent and commitment of the team.
Scott Racek took over as coach of the women's team midway through the 1998 season. He immediately began to turn the program around, leading the Cardinals to the CAC tournament semifinals. After four years of stability and growth, Racek led the women to unchartered waters - a record 12 wins in 2002. Not to be outdone, the 2003 Cardinals improved on the previous year's success and set a new school record for wins in a season with 14, while also taking third place in the CAC and earning a berth to the ECAC Mid-Atlantic Region post-season tournament for the first time in history.
The 2005 soccer season saw the CUA women's team set the standard by which all future teams will be measured. Head coach J.P. Sousa led the Cardinals to its most successful season in school history - an undefeated regular season, winning the team's first Capital Athletic Conference championship, earning a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the first time, and posting a final record of 18 wins, one loss, and two ties. They outscored opponents 77-13 while recording 14 shutouts. A league-leading seven CUA players were selected to the All-CAC teams, and the Cardinals swept the post-season awards with senior Laura Kaye named CAC Player of the Year, freshman Suzie Peters named CAC Rookie of the Year, and Sousa taking home CAC Coach of the Year honors.
The next chapter of CUA women's soccer began in 2007 with the creation of the Landmark Conference. The Cardinals took on new conference opponents Drew, Juniata, Moravian, Susquehanna, Scranton and Goucher on their way to a third place finish and the inaugural conference playoffs. The team also earned a berth in the ECAC South Region post-season tournament, closing out the season with a remarkable run to the championship game and a final record of 12 wins, three losses, and five ties.
The CUA women returned to championship form in 2009. Sousa led his charges to a 17-3-1 record, their first-ever Landmark Conference title, and the second trip to the NCAA Tournament in program history. The Cardinals enjoyed a near-perfect home record of 10-0-1 while also cracking the NSCAA Division III national rankings on two occasions - they claimed the #24 spot after starting the year with nine straight wins, and then finished the regular season as the #25 ranked team in the country heading into the conference playoffs. Senior Helene Nicoletti was named the Landmark Defensive Player of the Year, and freshman Courtney Orgill won the Landmark Rookie of the Year award.
Five years passed before the Cardinals claimed another championship, but the 2014 campaign proved that the wait was worth it. The CUA women blazed a trail through the Landmark Conference and the Mid Atlantic region that led to arguably the most successful season in school history. The team enjoyed a 16-2-3 overall record, going undefeated in the Landmark Conference on their way to their second league championship. They finished the regular season with a #24 national ranking by D3soccer.com before the start of the NCAA Tournament, where they defeated Hanover College from Indiana 3-2 in the First Round for the program's first-ever victory in the national tournament. CUA landed seven players on the All-Landmark teams, including senior Tricia Colucci being named Landmark Defensive Player of the Year and freshman Alexa Povelaitis being named Landmark Rookie of the Year. Sousa and his assistants were also honored as the Landmark Coaching Staff of the Year.
The winning continued in 2015 at CUA. After a preseason training trip to Spain, the Cardinals returned to the states to begin their quest of capturing back-to-back Landmark titles, and did just that. With a 17-3 overall record and a perfect 7-0 regular season conference record, Catholic went on to repeat as Landmark Conference champions and Sousa and his assistants were selected as Coaching Staff of the Year once again. Junior Lindsay Aleman topped the conference leader boards in several scoring categories and was named Landmark Offensive Player of the Year while freshman Taylor Pisk garnered the Landmark Rookie of the Year honor. CUA also enjoyed more postseason success on the national stage by defeating #19 Ithaca in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to advance to the Round of 32 for the second consecutive year.