Women's Soccer |
Sept. 1, 2011
By Jeff Geiser
CINCINNATI - When the game clock reached 0:00 in the second half of the University of Cincinnati women's soccer team's match at Northwestern University on Friday, the Bearcats secured more than just a 2-1 win against a Big Ten Conference opponent. The victory marked the 100th career win for UC head coach Michelle Salmon.
Nine minutes after NU tied the score 1-1, freshman midfielder Christi Howard (Cincinnati, Ohio/Anderson) took a serve from Logan Ballinger (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton) from 15 yards out and lazered a shot into the left side of the goal to give UC a 2-1 lead in the 87th minute. As the clock wound down to zero, senior forward Emily Hebbeler(Park Hills, Ky./Notre Dame Academy) drenched Salmon with a Gatorade shower in celebration of the milestone.
"That night when we beat Northwestern, it was such a special moment for our team," recalls Amanda Martin, UC assistant coach. "To score in the 87th minute and to do it in such a dramatic fashion; it was just a cool way to celebrate all of the success that Michelle's had."
Salmon, now in her fourth year at Cincinnati, entered the 2011 season with a 98-89-18 all-time record after previous stops at Ball State and Maryland-Baltimore County. With the Bearcats starting the season 2-1-1, not only did she hit the century mark in wins, she also evened her career UC record to 28-28-6, an impressive feat considering, prior to her arrival, the program hadn't enjoyed a winning season since 2002.
"Coming in, there's no secret that we took on a program that hadn't been winning in a while," says Salmon. "I felt like we could go two different routes. You only have one time to really rebuild a program and you need to do it the right way. We did it by instilling confidence, reassuring and creating consistency amongst our players."
Not one for self-promotion, Salmon is humble when reflecting on No. 100.
"At the end of the day it solidifies that: A - I've been doing it a long time; and B - I've coached some really great teams, whether they were at UMBC, Ball State or here at Cincinnati," Salmon says. "This is my 12th year and I didn't realize it until the other day, but what I've come to look back on in the 100 wins is that each team has been special, each journey has been special and each game has been special; not one more important than the other.
"I've had a chance to coach some great players and, more importantly, some great people. I know it's an accomplishment and something I should be proud of, but I'm more proud of the relationships I've developed with my players, with programs and with athletic directors over the course of my career. Is it a great accomplishment? Sure, but I'd like to get 100 more right here at Cincinnati. To be quite honest with you, it just says that I've been fortunate enough to be surrounded by really great people."
The next step in the rebuilding process for Salmon is to get her team to learn to deal with success. Last season, the Bearcats started the year 5-0-1 and were ranked No. 15 nationally before struggling down the stretch.
Whether the program takes that next step this season or next, UC fans can rest assured that Salmon plans on seeing the reclamation all the way through.
"I want to coach as long as I possibly can; I love it," proclaims Salmon. "I wake up every single day and I truly feel blessed that I do what I love for a living. And I'm now surrounded by players and a staff that really gets that passion and feels that passion and knows what drives me every single day. How rare is it to wake up and genuinely love what you do? As long as I continue to love it, which I do, I'll coach as long as I possibly can. If I'm 95 years old and I'm still sitting out on that field loving it and still feisty as ever, I'll be out there."