BUIES CREEK, N.C. --- Starting a brand new varsity program is one of the most challenging yet rewarding feats in all of college athletics.
The Campbell women's lacrosse team recently completed its fifth season in Buies Creek, and over the last two seasons it has seen success not felt in the early stages of program history. You could say the team has, "gotten over the hump", which holds a lot of value around these parts.
The Camels are coming off back-to-back 10-win campaigns in 2016-17. That equates to a .540 winning percentage over the last two seasons compared to a .382 clip during the first three years. The 2017 squad posted an all-time best .556 overall winning percentage.
"The progress of our lacrosse team has been tremendous," said Campbell's Director of Athletics Bob Roller. "(Head coach) Dawn Easley and her staff have executed a methodical plan in each of her first four years to where we enjoyed record-breaking success this spring."
Campbell has been even more successful in the Big South Conference over its last two seasons. Eleven combined conference victories has contributed to a .733 winning percentage in league action. Compare that to just a .230 Big South mark in the first three seasons and the numbers themselves represent the progress that the Camels have seen.
Postseason runs, once just a lofty goal to the fledgling program, has become the norm for the Camels. After winning its first Big South Tournament game in 2016, Campbell's 6-1 conference record in 2017 put them straight into the semifinal round of the league's championship.
The Camels knocked off defending conference champions Winthrop in that semifinal matchup to advance to the program's first Big South Championship game. Campbell took home runner-up honors in that event, but proved that it was a program built to be the upper echelon of the conference year-in and year-out.
The league's coaches have taken notice of the Camels' recent success as well. Ten Camels have been named All-Big South selections over the past two seasons including a record three first team honorees last season. Loren Day became Campbell's first Big South Offensive Player of the Year in 2016 after finishing as the league's scoring leader.
"In a very short time span, Coach Easley has guided us to the number two spot in the Big South and we all are working hard for the next step. She has done so by recruiting outstanding players and outstanding students who represent Campbell in the highest possible manor. "
Statistically, the Camels received national attention when Day spent multiple weeks during the 2016 campaign as the Division I scoring leader. As a unit, Campbell finished the 2016 season ranked fifth nationally in assists and led the Big South in draw controls last year.
Campbell hasn't just seen success on the field, but in the classroom as well. The Camels have taken home the Big South Scholar-Athlete of the Year award the last two seasons. Erica Hitch earned the honor in 2016 and Mackenzie Koeller in 2017. Koeller also became the program's first CoSIDA Academic All-District® selection and was eligible for All-American honors.
In total, the Camels have received 76 presidential honor roll selections over their program history. They have also been named an IWLCA Academic Honor Squad for the past three seasons after boasting a team-GPA over 3.0.
As evident by the recent success, the future is indeed bright for Campbell lacrosse. Hard work and dedication has laid the foundation for years to come. We're just lucky enough to be along for the ride.