PLYMOUTH, N.H. - To many Americans, the growth of women's soccer in the United States began with the boom following this country's success in the Olympics and the World Cup in the late 1990s. But to soccer fans that follow Plymouth State College, the explosion of success of women's soccer started in the mid-1980s.
Plymouth State, which participated in the first nine NCAA Division III Women's Soccer Championship Tournaments from 1986-94, will recognize the achievements of those Panther teams with a "Celebration of Success." A special day has been designated in 2001 to gather the nine teams together and recognize an era that may not be matched for years to come.
The date is set for Sept. 8, 2001, and will be held in conjunction with the PSC women's soccer game that day with Wheaton College. The two Panther head coaches from that era, Phil Rowe and Nancy Feldman, will join with the rest of the players, coaches and support personnel in a banquet to commemorate the near-decade of success.
"Those teams were so successful, they were always being suggested as possibilities for the PSC Hall of Fame," said Peter Cofran '74, a PSC athletic administrator the past 16 years and a member of the "Celebration of Success" planning committee. "Yet each of those teams was unique in what they accomplished, and to pick out one team to honor in the Hall of Fame was too difficult. We decided that they all needed to be recognized, and with the nine-year stretch of NCAA appearances, we thought this would be an excellent way to honor all of them."
The NCAA Division III women's soccer tournament began in 1986, and Plymouth State was among the invitees. PSC made it all the way to the Final Four five times (1986, 1987, 1989, 1991, and 1993), playing for the championship in (1986 and 1993). By 1994, only PSC and UC-San Diego had been invited to all nine championships.
"The players and coaches today are inspired by what those teams accomplished, and use that as a goal for our team," said PSC head coach Rebecca Lisack. "We have a very successful program in 2000, but the stage was set by the successes of those who played before us."
Both former Panther coaches have remained in college athletics, as Rowe is in his second year as head men's basketball coach at the University of New Hampshire and Feldman is in her sixth season as head women's soccer coach at Boston University. Both were excited to be a part of the 2001 celebration.
"I was fortunate to join the Panther Family when women's soccer was exploding on the national scene," said Rowe. "Who will ever forget hosting one of the NCAA's first regional championship? We won the regional over a strong St. Lawrence program and advanced to the first NCAA women's soccer Final Four. We beat Cortland, the #1 ranked team in the country in the semi-final, but lost the first ever national championship game to Rochester, 1-0. That season set the tone for the success that has become known as Plymouth State College Women's Soccer."
"The mid ‘80s and early ‘90s were truly a dominant time for PSC Women's Soccer," said Feldman. "Phil Rowe built a dynasty and I was fortunate enough to carry it on. Former standout players at PSC were Division I caliber talents that believed in Plymouth State and its soccer program, and wanted to be a part of the awesome tradition of athletic success. Every single player that wore the green and white ought to come celebrate what was accomplished over the course of those special years, and provide support for the current team's rise to excellence again. It is our program!"
For more information on PSC Women's Soccer's "Celebration of Success", interested parties can call Coach Lisack at 603-535-2732 or Peter Cofran at 603-535-2772.