Rodriguez makes history with GSW Women’s Soccer Program

Published 6:21 pm Thursday, November 15, 2018

By Staff Reports


AMERICUS – A year ago, the Georgia Southwestern State University women’s soccer team didn’t win a game. This year, the program has made great strides.

During this past season, GSW women’s soccer accomplished something it had never accomplished before: beating three NCAA Division II teams.

At the beginning of the 2018 season, head women’s soccer coach Enrique Rodriguez wanted to make history in one form or another, therefore branding the #RowTheBoat hashtag. Using that saying, he wanted his team to be together and row effortless week by week.

“I used the saying “Row the boat” as a meaning to push that we are all on one accord and we cannot move without each other,” Rodriguez said. “I’m very proud of my team, even with all the obstacles we faced this season. We stayed in sync and continued to row the boat.”

Rodriguez came off an 0-15 inaugural season in 2017, but he coached the 2018 squad to a 3-14 finish. This has led to an overall improvement both on and off the field. Compared to last year’s stats, the Lady Hurricanes took 99 more shots this season, which led to an increase of goals scored this year.

On Wednesday, September 5 of this year, the Lady Hurricanes earned their first win of the season with a 3-2 double-overtime win over Southern Wesleyan. Alison Rugel scored the game-winning goal in the 109th minute to earn the program’s first win in 27 games, 16 of them while under Rodrigues. Their next win came on the road against Spring Hill College, as GSW earned a 2-1 victory. Ella Hawkins scored early in the third minute, followed by the winning goal in the 34th minute by Emily Collum.

GSW earned their first historic home win under the lights when Albany State came to town. On Wednesday, October 24, Rugel scored a goal early in the ninth minute to give the Lady Hurricanes a 1-0 lead before Hawkins scored back-to-back goals to help GSW claim a 3-1 victory. One footnote: Albany State will be joining the Peach Belt Conference next year.

The women’s soccer team has also been putting in countless community service hours. GSW is atop the NCAA Division II Helper Helper Community Service competition. During the week of September 28 through October 4, GSW was ranked first in Helper Helper community service hours and has been one of the top-five teams each week this semester.

To cap the historic season, the Lady Hurricanes placed three players on the 2018 PBC All-Academic Team. Hawkins is a Management major with a 3.31 grade point average. She was named to the list for a third consecutive year. Nursing major Michelle Gustavsen made her second appearance with a perfect 4.00 GPA, while Leila Hamed, a Psychology major with a 3.41 GPA, received her first nomination to the team.

“the team showed character in complicated moments,” Rodriguez said. “We’re going to use that momentum to build and carry on to next season.”