Just Like it Happened Yesterday
Memories of 1989 championship still fresh for players, coach
By Dmitry Rashnitsov
More than two decades ago, Barry University students experienced their first trip to the top of the sports mountain when the women’s soccer team brought the school its first national championship. The women of Buccaneer Field have three national championship trophies on their mantle, but none is more meaningful than the 1989 victory.
“They were very talented, very committed and very dedicated,” said Barry’s Director of Athletics Mike Covone, who coached the women’s soccer teams from 1984-1994. “They understood what it took to win.”
Covone was the first coach for the team and set up the entire women’s soccer program at Barry. But for him, the 1989 team had the right mix of talent, determination and intensity to bring home a championship.
They finished with a record of 17 wins, 0 losses and 1 tie, still the only undefeated season in the school’s history.
“Unless you were on that team I don’t think you would come close to understanding how hard we had trained to win that national championship,” said Chris Winterbottom-Brandenburg ’93. A freshman at the time, Winterbottom-Brandenburg went on to play on another championship team in 1992. “To win that national championship was exciting and somewhat of a relief at the same time; all that hard work had paid off.”
The 1989 team was a culmination of several years of improvement, coupled with experience in big game situations, according to Covone. Eight of the players were recruited by Covone from the Dallas area, and several other members came from the Northwest. Many of them had already played together or against each other in high school or on the women’s Olympic development teams; they had formed bonds before they even arrived on campus.
The team held the No. 1 ranking in NCAA Division II for most of the season and played up to their expectations. For the season, the team scored 55 goals, averaging more than three per game, but it was their defense and the stellar play of goalie Carilyn Hormilla ’92 that lifted the squad to heights they had never achieved.
Hormilla still holds the all-time Barry University women’s soccer records for the fewest goals given up in a season (3), most shutouts in a season (15) and goals against average per game (0.16).
“Carilyn was an outstanding goalkeeper and tremendous athlete who always played at such a high level,” said Covone.
For defender Kyllene Carter-Weiss ’90, who would go on to win the National Player of the Year honors in 1990, the final seconds of the championship game and the excitement of claiming the title at Buccaneer Field in front of an electric fan base will always be embedded in her consciousness.
“There are many memories, but the indescribable feeling that I and my teammates had after the game is a good one,” Carter-Weiss said. “When the game was over, before we received the trophy, we ran over to the stands, which were filled with students and (then-president) Sister Jeanne, and high fived everyone.”
From 1988-1995 the women’s soccer team enjoyed the most successful time in the program’s history, appearing in the NCAA Division II Final Four seven times, and capturing two more national championships in 1992 and 1993.
Carter-Weiss later coached the Barry women’s soccer team from 2001-2006, but it was the extra practice time and tough mental attitude that got her through the 1989 season.
“Lisa Keller and I truly dedicated ourselves that season to our goal [which was winning] a national championship,” Carter-Weiss recalled. “I would train with the men’s team and then train with my team. Lisa and I would stay after practice and do extra sit ups and run just to make sure we were fit.”
Carter-Weiss said her team was confidant the whole season, but with the NCAA Division II semifinal and final played in Miami Shores, the hometown support gave them that added push down the home stretch.
“During the Final Four weekend, Lisa and I would run a mile before each game to make sure we were warm, and before the semifinal game, we ran by a house full of Barry students,” Carter-Weiss said. “Well, there was a pre-game party being held at the house and all the students were outside. As we were running by, the whole party came out and they were high-fiving Lisa and I. It gave us such a rush.”
More than just the game and the season, the women say they remember the lessons instilled in them by Covone – lessons which they still use as parents, educators and coaches themselves.
“Practices were insanely intense and coach expected perfection,” Winterbottom-Brandenburg said. “He knew our capabilities and was able to motivate each and every one of us differently.”
Dmitry Rashnitsov is a freelance reporter based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He can be reached via e-mail at DRashnitsov@gmail.com.