Members of the 1999 women’s soccer team gather on the steps of Graham Cottage during a reception in their honor. Front row, from left: Dani Engelkamp Halfhill ’03, Kim Lowman Sutton ’01, Michelle Topmiller Waymeyer ’02, Kristen Byrd ’02, Shannon Bacher Crump ’00; second row: Sarah Focke ’00, Meghan Kane Trimble ’01, Rhea Andrews Hatfield ’02, Jackie Glass ’01; back row: Leslie Moyers ’00, Shelby Lynn Marshall ’02, Sarah Kelley Hilvers ’00, Amanda Pemberton Christensen ’01, Leslie Ghibaudy Stone ’01, Jean-Anne Jensen ’02.
1999 women’s soccer team reunites to recall school-record 23-1 season
A decade after fashioning one of the greatest seasons by any team in Transylvania’s 130-year sports history, the best memories of members of the 1999 women’s soccer team revolve not around team records or individual statistics, but on the strong bonds of camaraderie and team spirit that continue to this day.
“We were really good friends, and we’re still really good friends today,” said Sarah Kelley Hilvers ’00, who was an NAIA first-team All-American that season. “We did a lot of things off the field together, and that helped in our success, that we were so close.”
Hilvers, along with 14 of her teammates, their families, and their coaches, held a reunion in Lexington September 26 and attended a women’s and men’s soccer doubleheader against Defiance University. They were recognized at halftime of the women’s game and honored at a Graham Cottage alumni reception afterwards.
In only the fifth year of the women’s program at Transy, the 1999 Pioneers won 23 straight games before losing 3-0 to Westmont College in the NAIA national championship game in Miami. It was, and still is, the only time a Transy team in any sport has played in a national title game.
The team’s 23-1 record included 16 shutouts and an aggregate score of 73-11 against all opponents. The overall mark and the 23 straight wins are still all-time records for the program. The Pioneers were led by head coach Parviz Zartoshty ’85, who is now director of soccer.
“It was great seeing that outstanding group of players back together again,” Zartoshty said. “They accomplished a lot in terms of putting the Transy women’s soccer program on the national map. I am very proud to have been their coach, and am proud of the way they represented themselves and Transylvania.”
“This is a very special team,” said President Charles L. Shearer, speaking at the reception. “They had great confidence—maybe even a little swagger.
Whenever they stepped on the field, they were ready to play. They created so many wonderful memories for all of us.”
Amanda Pemberton Christensen ’01 is an art teacher and athletics director at Henry Clay High School in Lexington. She helped arrange the games against Defiance on Henry Clay’s all-weather field after a week of steady rains left Hall Field unplayable. She recalls how the 1999 Pioneers played so well together.
“Teamwork was our big thing,” she said. “We were not a power team. The emphasis was on working the ball around, getting in position, and then attacking when the time was right.”
Sarah Focke ’00, a third-team NAIA All-American, remembers especially tough games against Lindsey-Wilson College, a traditional NAIA powerhouse, and a road game at Berry College in Georgia. She said it hardly seems like a decade has gone by since that magical season.
“No, it doesn’t seem that long ago. I remember that we were very confident during that season, but never cocky. We’re still young—we could do it again,” she said with a smile.
Other seniors on the team included Shannon Bacher Crump ’00, an honorable mention All-American, and Leslie Moyers ’00. Also making All-American were Lyndi Campbell Lowman ’02 (third team) and Stacey Jarboe ’03 (honorable mention).
At the reception, Shearer announced that in April 2010 during Alumni Weekend, the 1999 women’s soccer team will be inducted into the Pioneer Hall of Fame as a group, the first time any Transy team has been so honored.
“If any team deserves that, it’s this one,” Shearer said.