By Cathy Harasta
The Texas Catholic
Allie Daus, Ursuline Academy’s first-year head soccer coach, needed a week or so for everything about the Bears’ 23rd consecutive state title to crystallize.
Ursuline defeated Houston St. Agnes, 2-0, at Awty International School in Houston for the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools’ Division I championship on March 9. The triumph continued a streak that Daus had pitched in to preserve as a player and assistant coach at Ursuline.
But her first state title as a head coach didn’t immediately make a deep impression on her.
“That day, it was just like, ‘Oh, we won,’ ” said Daus, a 2005 Ursuline graduate who played soccer for Penn State. “The next week, I realized what a great job the girls did this season to rise above all the pressures and challenges. The most overpowering feeling that I had was that I was just so happy for them.”
Daus, 26, said that she and the players didn’t dwell on the title streak, but that in retrospect, she recognized that she had felt pressure.
“It was there from Game One,” she said. “You could argue that it was there more for Game One than at mid-season.”
Senior Cami Pham said that she felt some regrets about having played her final game for Ursuline. But she said that her underclassmen teammates were “pretty lively” during the bus ride home from Houston.
Pham, who signed to play soccer at Northwestern University, said that tradition was the key to explaining the program’s state title victory streak. She conceded that it is difficult to contemplate a streak that is older than she is.
“It’s crazy,” said Pham, who scored a goal in the championship. “If I could pick a word to describe Ursuline soccer, it would be ‘tradition.’ I think it’s every senior’s job to carry on the tradition. I really wanted to leave my mark on soccer each year. Being a returning player, it’s your job to teach the under-classmen about tradition.”
Daus said that her players reversed a perception that she harbored entering the season.
“I thought that, as a player, you learn all these lessons from your coach—about life and about the game,” Daus said. “But I came to realize that the players teach me the lessons. That was the biggest surprise.”
Ursuline athletic director Mike Jensen said that Daus did an outstanding job with the program.
“She kept them focused,” he said. “We were a young team this year, with 11 of the 22 varsity players first-year letter-women.”
Jensen said that people refer to the Bears’ title streak as a soccer dynasty, but he prefers Pham’s characterization of the continuing success.
“We look at it as tradition,” he said. “We play in the shadow of the players who have played before us.”
He said that Daus deserves a lot of credit.
“To watch Allie come in her first year and do what she did was remarkable,” he said. “We’re so blessed.”
Daus said that she talked often with her predecessor, Jamie Cantrell, who retired last year.
“Even when we were coaching together, we were friends,” Daus said. “She’s my mentor. Our relationship hasn’t changed.”
Cantrell said that she occasionally suffers pangs of missing the players and staff, but that her confidence in the program never falters.
“Allie has always been such a spectacular person that I had no doubt that she would do well,” said Cantrell, who retired from coaching to focus on her young children and family life. “Any time when you remove yourself from working with wonderful people, there’s a feeling of loss. But this was Allie’s time. My time was done.”