South Atlantic Conference Women's Soccer

Catawba Women's Soccer Reigns Supreme In Division II

Catawba Women's Soccer Reigns Supreme In Division II

With the most goals in Division II, Catawba Women’s Soccer has the firepower to push its way to the top.

Oct 5, 2023 by Briar Napier
Catawba Women's Soccer Reigns Supreme In Division II

Catawba women’s soccer coach Nick Brown didn’t even know that his squad was the highest-scoring team in NCAA Division II until he was told of that fact Monday morning.

But when goals seem to be blurring together and going in at a breakneck pace at this point for a top-five team in the country, can you really blame Brown for losing track of the tally?

Top Scoring Division II Women's Team

With Catawba at an unblemished 7-0 as of this writing Tuesday evening, too, the strategy of just letting the score flow to top-tier heights has worked to perfection.

“We’re just going day by day and just game by game to see what we can do,” Brown, now in his ninth season at Catawba, said of his program’s scoring prowess. “Obviously, very happy that we’re putting the ball in the back of the net. … Anytime you can score multiple goals in a game, it’s good, and we’ve been fortunate so far that we are scoring goals.”

At 37 goals and a blistering average of 5.29 goals per match, Catawba is tops in D-II in both categories and has now reached an all-time high ranking of No. 3 in the latest latest United Soccer Coaches Top 25 national poll, leaving more unforeseen territory — up to and including a run which would be unlike any other before in program history — both in the cards and in sight upon the horizon. 

There’s still more than a month of regular season play still left to go before postseason gets under way and they can test out their chances at making history, of course, but the early goings have Brown and Catawba feeling good about their season outlook. 

Catawba’s won games by 7-0 margins twice, is on a 3-0 roll to start South Atlantic Conference play and picked up an eye-popping win that helped it pick up some national kudos and attention — a 6-5 barnburner against reigning national semifinalist Columbus State on Sept. 8 which saw the Cougars threaten to tie the match from four goals down, but Catawba regrouped and got a huge non-conference W by the skin of its teeth.

Despite the above scoreline, two-way shootouts aren’t that common with Catawba, however. Five of its seven victories have been via shutout, in fact, and they frequently come in dominant fashion — something that Brown is much more at ease with.

“I prefer 6-5 games against Columbus State. Nah, I’m just kidding,” Brown joked. “Zeroes, that’s the big one for us. When we talk about our principles of playing … it always starts on the defensive side. We talk about getting numbers behind the ball, we talk about being disciplined defensively, that’s what we probably talk about more than anything. We don’t want to give up goals.”

Defense and the attack are frequently intertwined in soccer, with one phase often quickly morphing into another through the counterattack, setting up tactics and other intricacies. Catawba is lethal at turning opponent’s mistakes into opportunities, and with a stunning 26.43 shots per game average thus far this season, waves of support frequently arrive to ensure that chances rarely slip through the team’s fingers.

Star Players

Graduate student and midfielder Sydney Jimmo has most often been the woman to finish the job when Catawba gets forward and peppers the opposing goalkeeper, scoring 11 goals so far on the season to be tied with Edward Waters’ (Florida) Dahien Cabrera for the national lead. But she’s also one of seven different Catawba players with multiple goals already, with senior forward and All-American Hannah Dunn (four goals, seven assists) in particular being a multi-faceted maestro with the ball who can change games in a variety of ways.

It takes a load off of Jimmo’s shoulders in terms of finding ways to score, though now with three straight seasons of hitting double-digit goals herself, it’s not as if the Vermont native hasn’t been used to beating goalies for awhile now, anyway.

“Honestly, a lot of my goals have been the fourth or fifth or sixth goal,” Jimmo said, “and many other people have scored before me. It’s nice to not have the pressure of teammates or coaches or people watching (asking), ‘Well, Sydney, what are you going to do? You have to go score now, blah, blah, blah.’ It’s just nice to be able to not have to put that kind of pressure on any single person.”

History of Catawba Women's Soccer

Brown’s seen his share of success at the helm at Catawba, his alma mater, breaking a 14-year drought of NCAA Tournament victories a season ago when his team took down SAC rival Wingate in the opening round of the Southeast Regional. The energy this time across the program he admits feels different this time, though.

Catawba’s never won a national title in women’s soccer, let alone win more than one game at any of the NCAA tourneys that it’s qualified for in its history. But goals and lopsided scorelines get the attention of people, and if the trends continue, Catawba will become even harder to ignore when the stakes get raised.

As long as the goals keep flowing, Catawba — with a full head of steam and seemingly endless ways to score — may have a benchmark season on its hands.

“I do think there is a bit of a different feel to this group,” Brown said. “I can’t pinpoint it exactly, but this group, they’re doing something that feels a little bit different than what we normally do. The energy is really good. … There is a bit of a different feel from this group, and I love it. I really love what we feel right now.”