It has been years since Sofia Poulos has seen her daughter, Dimi, play soccer. Tonight, she will see her and the rest of the Winthrop women's soccer team take on Liberty. The game starts at 7 p.m. at Eagle Field.
Sofia Poulos made the 30-hour trip from Australia through Los Angeles to Charlotte and Rock Hill. She got in Thursday night. Her luggage arrived sometime on Friday.
"I'm kind of excited for her to see me play," Dimi said. Dimi Poulos, Erin Foote, Kathleen Pollard, Chelsea White and Kristen Lee make up the senior class that will be honored tonight as part of Senior Night.
The group owns several career records at Winthrop. Poulos is the all-time leader in saves with 383 and goals against average with a 1.15 mark. White leads in career points (63), goals (26) and shots (138). Foote is the all-time leader in assists with 12 and ranks third in points (36) and shots (92).
Coach Melissa Heinz doesn't hide how she feels about her seniors.
"They are priceless. We'll miss them in a lot of aspects," Heinz said.
Poulos, the Winthrop goalkeeper with dreams of playing in the new Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) league after college, was a first-team all-Big South Conference choice last year. She is hoping for an invite to the WPS combine in Tampa, Fla. in mid-December.
"My name is not as big as other people, so it is kind of tough now. I have to try to figure out how to get in there. I can't leave without trying," Poulos said.
According to the WPS Web site, WPS is the highest level women's professional soccer league in North America. Formed in September 2007 as the result of the efforts of the Women's Soccer Initiative, Inc., WPS, which will begin play in April 2009, consists of seven teams across the country.
A native of Wollongong, Australia, Poulos hopes to be part of one of the teams in the league's first season.
She has received some additional help in attaining that goal the last two seasons from graduate assistant coach Sonia Rodriguez. A former goalkeeper for four championship teams at Liberty, Rodriguez trains Winthrop's keepers.
Rodriguez, 25, is still transitioning from player to coach. She played for the Charlotte Lady Eagles, a women's elite soccer team that plays in the W-League of the United Soccer Leagues (USL).
"It is a lot of fun as a coach because Dimi's talent level is so high. It is a pleasure, she wants to work everyday," Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez played one game against Poulos in 2005. Rodriguez was a senior, Poulos was a freshman that everyone was talking about. Being one of the more experienced goalkeepers in the conference, Rodriguez wanted to beat Poulos and Winthrop when they met at Liberty that season.
"Liberty got about 20 shots but Winthrop won the game 1-0. I could not believe it," Rodriguez said.
Now she coaches, and Poulos is still stopping shots.
Poulos was named Big South Player of the Week this past week. Then she helped Winthrop to a 3-0 shutout at S.C. State on Thursday.
Winthrop is 4-0-1 in its last five games. The run has evened the Eagles' overall record at 8-8-1 and 3-3-1 in the Big South.
Liberty is 2-12-1 overall and 2-6 in the conference.
Sofia Poulos will be in the States for three weeks to watch her daughter play the rest of the season. Dimi Poulos and the rest of the team hope the season will continue beyond the Big South Conference tournament scheduled for Nov. 6-9.