Kip Coons, TSN Correspondent
DURHAM, N.C. – Duke inducted seven more athletes into the university’s Hall of Fame on Friday, and for the first time a women’s soccer player joined basketball standouts such as Grant Hill and Shane Battier on the podium.
Kelly Walbert Cagle, a native of Tucson, Ariz, who was Duke’s all-time leading scorer during her playing career (1992-95), became the first representative of her sport to be enshrined.
The momentousness of the occasion wasn’t lost on her.
“I just feel really proud, and I feel a real sense of responsibility to make sure everyone knows how important I know my teammates and my class were in developing Duke into a great women’s soccer program,” Cagle said.
“The cool thing about when I was here, I always tell people I don’t think it was super cool to come here as a soccer player when we did,” she recalled.
“And nine of us (freshmen) came. The program was in its fifth year, and some of the ladies who were here from the very beginning were such soldiers in trying to build the foundation necessary to do great things. The nine of us got here on the heels of those great ladies, and it was great to be part of something that really hadn’t surfaced yet. That’s my best memory, to be on the ground floor of something. I always tell people it’s so great to be part of making something special. And I feel like I was here at a time when we did a lot of that fun, dirty work. We didn’t quite get to where we wanted to go, but pretty darn close.”
She also credited her former Duke coach, Bill Hempen, for her honor.
“He is, I think, the patriarch of starting programs,” Cagle said.
“He started one here, (and) he’s just starting one at Colorado State. He’s got the sense for it, he’s got the patience for it, (and) he does it the right way, with sustenance.
“He was an integral part of this program. … He just did a phenomenal job of setting the right foundation, and I owe everything to him taking a chance on me.”
Hempen, a former assistant coach for the men’s team, headed the Duke women’s program for 13 years before leaving for Colorado, where he coached for 11 years.
He is in his second year at Colorado State.
Even though her playing career ended more than 20 years ago, Cagle is all over the Duke record book.
She was a three-time All-America and All-ACC pick, and the ACC Player of the Year in 1995.
She started a school-record 90 consecutive games and holds Duke records for goals in a season (18), game-winning goals in a season (9), career goals (47), career game-winning goals (20), and career points (117).
After a brief professional career in the short-lived Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA), Cagle joined the college coaching ranks.
She was an assistant coach at Texas (1996) and Wake Forest (1997-2001) before serving as head coach at Virginia Tech (2003-10).
The Hokies had not enjoyed a winning season in the first 10 years of their program, but under Cagle, who compiled a record of 76-67-15, they became an ACC contender.
“About five years ago I stopped (coaching) just to be a mom for a bit,” Cagle said.
“Now I have a consulting business in Phoenix, where I work with all kinds of teams, youth teams all the way up to corporate teams.”
She hasn’t completely left the coaching ranks, however.
“I did a consulting gig with ASU (Arizona State) in women’s soccer for the last three years,” Cagle said.
“I took a year off this year. It’s really fun; it allowed me to keep my feet wet. But I do, I miss it. I miss the relationships that you have with those players, seeing a team through from the beginning and how that team has transformed during the year. I’m competitive, and it’s hard to feed my competitive soul without that environment, but I find ways.”
One way has been coaching her two daughters in the sport.
“Maggie this year is almost 13, so we decided this is a perfect year for her to be under somebody else,” Cagle said.
“I coached her the last five years. And then I am coaching Nancy, who is 8, maybe for another year or two, or when she wants me to stop.”
Upon further review
More than two decades after the fact, three former Tar Heels continue to pile up career statistics in international play.
U.S. Soccer was doing research for its Women’s National Team Media Guide ahead of the Rio Olympics and discovered that two games played against Australia – which the U.S. won 5-0 and 4-1 – during the run-up to the 1995 World Cup were never added to the all-time player totals.
The games were supposed to be played in the Los Angeles area, but heavy rains and flooding forced their last-minute relocation to Phoenix in January 1995.
Several statistical updates affected UNC legends Kristine Lilly, Tisha Venturini, and Mia Hamm.
Lilly saw her all-time U.S. record for caps increased by two to 354.
Venturini picked up three international goals, giving her a career total of 47 and moving her into 11th place on the U.S. all-time list – one goal ahead of another former Tar Heel, Heather O’Reilly, who announced her retirement from the national team on Sept. 1.
Hamm added an assist, extending her U.S. record to 145.
Lilly, Hamm, and Venturini were mainstays on the U.S. Women’s National Team during the 1990s and early 2000s, which saw the U.S. win two World Cups (1991, 1999) and two Olympic gold medals (1996, 2004).
The trio led UNC to six consecutive NCAA titles (1989-1994) during their collegiate days.
O’Reilly speaks out
The casualties include the Division I Women’s College Cup, which had been scheduled at Cary’s WakeMed Soccer Park for Dec. 2-4.
O’Reilly posted on Instagram: “It’s sad to see this place that I love pass a law that openly discriminates against people. The NCAA has announced that it was removing all of its championships from the state because the elected leaders in North Carolina have failed to protect people’s civil rights. … Although I am disappointed that student-athletes and their fans will not have the opportunity to compete for championships in the state that means so much to me, I support the NCAA’s commitment to fairness and inclusion when deciding where to hold these events.”
Those mid-week matches against non-conference opponents can be real trap games when they’re sandwiched between conference dates, even when they’re on home turf.
The UNC and N.C. State men found that out to their detriment Tuesday night.
The Tar Heels, No. 1 in two of the major polls (Soccer America, TopDrawerSoccer.com) and No. 2 in the coaches’ poll, will undoubtedly see an adjustment in their ranking next week after a 1-0 overtime loss to visiting East Tennessee State.
The Buccaneers (3-2) of the Southern Conference won on Fletcher Ekern’s golden goal 1:44 into overtime.
The Wolfpack surrendered two first-half goals – including the game-winner by Athens Drive High grad Elijah Agu – in a 2-0 loss to visiting Elon (4-1-1).
The Phoenix has compiled a 7-4-4 record against ACC teams since 2010.
Duke’s first midweek game will be Tuesday against visiting Georgia Southern, so stay tuned.
The ACC women begin conference play this weekend, and a match-up of local teams highlights the schedule.
N.C. State (6-2-1) brings a five-game winning streak to Chapel Hill to play No. 7-ranked North Carolina (5-1-1).
The youthful Wolfpack, which starts five freshmen and four sophomores, has shut out its last three opponents and hasn’t allowed a goal in 290 minutes.
UNC is coming off its first loss of the season, a 3-0 defeat at Southern California on Sunday, which came two days after the Tar Heels knocked off then-No. 9 UCLA 2-1 in the first half of their West Coast swing.
Ninth-ranked Duke (5-2-1) waits until Saturday for its ACC opener, hosting Boston College (6-0-1) at 7 p.m.
The Blue Devils dropped a 3-1 decision Friday to No. 2 West Virginia but rallied Sunday to down High Point 4-1.
BC stayed unbeaten Sunday when senior Andrea O’Brien scored the tying goal with three seconds remaining in regulation, and Mackenzie Meehan followed with a header 1:14 into the second overtime to win 2-1 at Northeastern.
The ACC men are in their second weekend of conference play.
Duke (2-1-1, 0-1 ACC) hosts No. 12 Wake Forest (4-1-1, 1-0), and N.C. State (1-4, 0-1) visits No. 23 Virginia Tech (5-1, 0-1) at 7 p.m. Friday.
UNC (4-1, 1-0) entertains Pittsburgh (1-3-1, 0-1) at 7:30 p.m. Friday as part of a doubleheader following the women’s game.