The timing of the Coastal Carolina women’s soccer team’s three straight shutouts has been a bit ironic.
The first came with regular starting goalkeeper Becca Austin, a senior, in goal. The next two came with backup Morgan Divine, a sophomore, in goal after the team found out Austin would miss time with a broken bone in her hand.
“She’s been doing pretty good. She’s a great teammate. She’s been that since she’s been here,” coach Paul Hogan, said of his backup, adding that he believes Austin will be back in two to four weeks but that no official timetable is in place. “She was always Becca’s No. 1 supporter. She’s always pushed Becca, but Becca just has some seniority and played well over her. Now she’s got her chance and she’s done well over the last two games.
“We feel confident, I think the team feels confident in Morgan. We were never like, ‘Oh no, what’s going to happen now?’ We’re like, ‘Hey, let’s just move on. Morgan will step up to the plate and do well and we’ll get Becca back when she’s back.’ ”
She’s a very capable backup and she’s been kind of the understudy to Becca. She stepped in and I’ve had no issues. She’s played well, communicated well, been a force so we’re pretty happy with her progress.
Hogan on backup goalkeeper Morgan Divine
Austin has made 35 saves while allowing eight goals in seven starts. Divine has yet to allow a goal in three appearances, having seen a smaller volume of shots on goal en route to four saves.
We have her training, doing everything she can, but she just can’t catch with one hand. We’re doing a lot of stuff, keeping her fitness up. But there’s just one hand she cannot work with.
Hogan on the status of starting goalkeeper Becca Austin
Should Austin return sooner rather than later, Hogan is excited about prospect of having two viable options. He welcomes the notion of having a “goalkeeper controversy.”
“I’m hoping that we have that situation to deal with,” he said. “If Morgan continues to play well, I’ll love to deal with that dilemma when we have to. I just want [Divine] to play well and I want Becca to come back healthy and ready to go, and then we’ll kind of have to cross that bridge when we get to it.”
Along with the shutouts, Coastal has picked up the scoring. The Chants have nine goals in those three matches compared to seven in the first six contests.
“I think we’re playing pretty good,” Hogan said. “We had a tough stretch, losses against pretty good teams and we bounced back and won the last three straight – all shutouts. So our defense has been playing well. Our goalkeeping has been well. We’re finally getting some goals on the board so I’m pretty happy with where we are right now. Never fully happy, but happy with moving forward, for sure.”
Most importantly, the last two wins were against Sun Belt Conference foes, giving Coastal a 2-0 record as it prepares for a three-game conference road trip beginning Friday at Georgia State. The Chants then play at Georgia Southern a week later, followed by a trip to Texas State.
“[It’s] massive,” Hogan said of his team winning its first two conference home games. “The complexity of the travel now is huge. Next weekend we go to Georgia Southern and and then fly to Texas State. The travel in between games is brutal. So the games at home you have to win. You just have to win those games, especially now that this is our first year in the conference. We didn’t really know what to expect, so we were anxious, nervous. So it was good to kind of get some wins under our belt in conference. It settles the nerves of the kids. And now we can just get down to playing soccer and being the best team that we can be.”
Coastal returned 17 players from a year ago, including three all-Big South Conference honorees in Amber Adams, Kayla Christian and Daniella Famili, and was voted to finish third in the Sun Belt this season.
“I think we’ve got a good team,” Hogan said. “We’ve got a bunch of seniors who are doing a great job with our leadership.”
We lost some good pieces, we lost some good seniors last year. We’ve had some other kids step in and take their roles and have done really, really well. You always miss different personalities and what they bring to the table of last year’s seniors. But II think the new group has come in and they’ve done a really good job, maybe even making those roles a little bit better for us. So I’m really happy with where we are with the new players and even players who were returning but have stepped into more of a starting role.
CCU women’s soccer coach Paul Hogan
Three-time defending Sun Belt tournament champion South Alabama was voted first, receiving all 10 first-place votes, while Troy got the second-most amount of tallies.
“South Alabama is the team to beat for sure,” Hogan said of the Jaguars, who knocked off then-No. 1 Florida State earlier this month. “They’re the class of the league, but that doesn’t mean we can’t beat them. We’ve just got to be good on a day [when we play them] and then get ready for [the] conference tournament. I think we’ve prepared ourselves with our schedule, with our preseason, so we’re excited. We’re excited to get the rest of these games under our belt and move toward the conference tournament.”
I was pretty happy with the coaches selecting us third. I think that was due to what we have done in the past. I think that’s also them trying to set us up for some failure maybe a little bit too.
Hogan’s quip on being voted by coaches to finish third in the Sun Belt this year
As his team moves into the thick of conference play this week, Hogan is hoping to see more consistent play and more discipline. “You do that through playing a lot of games.”
He’d also like to see a killer instinct develop.
“I think we can score goals. I think we’re capable of that as a team. We’ve just got to be a little bit more ruthless in front of goal,” Hogan said. “I think that’s something now we’re working on more everyday, becoming more of a killer, just putting teams out of their misery and just kind of getting the game done with. I think that’s a big part of what we want to do.”