After the first week of the season, freshman defender Olivia Dumphy already made her presence felt for the North Georgia women’s soccer team. Dumphy scored two goals in the Nighthawks’ second game. She went on to earn Peach Belt Conference defender of the week for her efforts.
It is not often a freshman makes that kind of impact in the first week of competition.
“I was very surprised,” Dumphy said of the weekly honor.
But there a couple of key reasons why Dumphy was able to start quickly in her collegiate soccer career.
“She came in ready,” North Georgia coach Chris Adams said. “She was first in our fitness test. Our strength and conditioning coach has commented on how coachable and a hard worker she is in the weight room. Good things have happened.”
The other reason Dumphy was able to adapt to her new environment so fast was because of seniors Alex Bowen, Sophia Matonak, Jessica Allen, Jacy Ramey, Megan Gil, Mollie Arrendale and Taylor Wagnon.
“They have been incredibly helpful,” Dumphy said. “They always hold me accountable. They are always there for questions. It is not very often you have a senior who is willing to be your best friend and support you through anything. I think every single one of these seniors has done that for me and everyone else on the team.
“They are able to set standards and they will hold you accountable. They will yell at you when you need it. They will support you if you need that, too. They are all-around amazing people, and I really respect them.”
The bond the seniors have with the rest of the team has helped the Nighthawks start the season 2-0-1 and earn a No. 17 ranking in the NSCAA top 25. They are coming off a 1-1 tie with Lenoir-Rhyne.
“The last game, a tie with Lenoir-Rhyne, we played 110 minutes of soccer,” Adams said. “Two very good teams and really neither team could get their nose in front. I think that was a good tie for both of us. Two really good teams coming out of this region who have historically made it into the NCAA tournament.”
The Nighthawks are coming off a 16-4-1 season. They lost 2-1 in the second round in the NCAA tournament to Columbus State, which was the nemesis last season. Three of North Georgia’s losses came against Columbus State, who went on to finish as national runner-up.
North Georgia plays No. 1 Columbus State on Sept. 21. But before that game, the Nighthawks will face Georgia College on Saturday.
“Our conversation is geared to a very good Georgia College team who is 2-0 right now,” Adams said. “We have to get the next one and after that we will shift our focus on Columbus State.”
The challenge for the Nighthawks is staying sharp with the nine-day layoff between games.
“The best news is we are three games in and we have no injuries,” Adams said. “We will be fresh.
“We got to do some things to maintain our sharpness. We thought about playing a blue versus white game in the middle of this break, drafting out two even teams and having them play each other. That would be a competitive game.”
The pieces are in place, though, for the Nighthawks to have a very strong season.
“We are trying to take advantage and enjoy the ride with these seniors every day before they leave,” Adams said. “Hopefully, this last year will be their best year.”
Dumphy knew she was coming into a great environment when she decided to be a student-athlete at North Georgia.
“We have basketball players coming up to you and telling you great game,” Dumphy said. “You see baseball players at your soccer game, cheering you on. It feels a lot like family.
“Everybody holds you accountable to what standard you need to set. It is just a wonderful university. I love everything about it.”
Millersville men’s soccer jumps into top 25
A 3-0 start to the season helped the Millersville men’s soccer team vault into the NSCAA coaches top 25 at No. 18. It shows the Marauders are building on last season in which they made the NCAA tournament.
“It is always nice to get the recognition for all the hard work we put in,” said senior midfielder Christopher Sosa. “But it is important to keep our heads level and not really think about it that much.”
The Marauders dropped their first game on Saturday, falling to Adelphi. Sosa, though, knows what it takes to bounce back from a loss and stay even-keel. In his three previous seasons, he has been part of two teams that reached the postseason and one, his sophomore season, that won only six matches.
“My sophomore year was kind of miserable,” Sosa said. “Not making the playoffs really hurt. Bouncing back my junior year was really nice. Everybody’s energy was higher. The gloom was gone. It is always nice to get back on the winning side again and hopefully we can repeat that this year.”
Millersville coach Steve Widdowson said the program did a little house cleaning after the 2014 season.
“We brought in a huge freshman class that we believed in and they got a lot of time early last year and filled all the holes we needed,” Widdowson said. “They are a year older this year and hopefully that bodes well for us this year.”
So far, the results have been good. Six different players have scored at least one goal.
“Last year we had one guy who scored a tremendous amount of goals for us,” Widdowson said. “We are back to more the way we usually are with a lot of guys contributing, a lot of different guys stepping up. We don’t want to be a one-man team. I am happy we are getting contributions from everybody. I hope that continues.”
Football upset of the week
Bemidji State sent shock waves through the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference and probably throughout NCAA Division II football with its impressive 45-17 road victory at No. 6 Minnesota State.
In improving to 2-0, the Beavers earned their first win over a ranked opponent since 2011. It was also the first time Bemidji State has beaten Minnesota State since 2005.
Junior quarterback Jordan Hein played well, throwing for 306 yards and one touchdown. He also ran for a touchdown.
Games to watch results
No. 9 Henderson State went on the road and beat East Central 34-7
Northern State handed Southwest Minnesota its first loss, winning 51-35.
Azusa Pacific went on the road and knocked off No. 13 Humboldt 38-27