A few days after breaking the news to her players, Megan Atoigue was still feeling the emotions of her decision.
UC Merced announced on Thursday morning that the winningest coach in the campus’ young history would be stepping down to take a job in the Bay Area after five years at the helm of the women’s soccer program.
“My husband has been commuting 4 to 5 hours to the Bay Area a three days a week for years,” Atoigue said. “My daughter (Avery) will get to grow up where her grandparents and other family are. I’m going to be coaching two club teams. It’s a lot less time required of me and I’m going to make more money doing it.
“It’s a easy decision when looking at what’s best for my family, but it was a tough one because I’ll have to leave the girls. I told them that I’m still pulling for them to succeed and I’ll always be a Bobcat fan, but this was something I had to do.”
UC Merced has compiled a 48-24-10 record in five seasons under Atoigue’s leadership. The Bobcats have been particularly dominant the last three years, going 35-9-9 and a ridiculous 21-2-5 at Lake Field during that span.
The only success that’s eluded her is winning a California Pacific Conference crown, falling in the Cal Pac Tournament the last three years.
“Megan has kind of set the bar in terms of success here on campus,” UC Merced director of recreation and athletics David Dunham said. “Only two home losses in in the last three years is an amazing stat. We certainly understand why she’s leaving, but we’re sorry to see her go.
“The good news is, she has the program on such solid ground, whomever takes over should be set up to just continue where she left off.”
Dunham said that assistant coach Hannah Brown is serving as the interim coach through the rest of the spring season. After that, the school will evaluate where it’s at and decide if it needs to open up a search for Atoigue’s replacement.
Twice as nice
Courtney Danna made UC Merced history one final time on Thursday as she was named to the NAIA Division II All-American team for the second straight season.
The senior made the honorable mention list after averaging 10.9 points, 4.73 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 1.92 steals per game for the Bobcats. Danna’s 123 assists were a single-season record and her assists per game ranked 11th in the nation.
Despite missing most of her freshman season, Danna leaves the school as the all-time leader in assists (295) and steals (176). She’s the first Bobcat to earn All-American status twice.
Dealing for MC
Nate McGhee seems fully recovered from the shoulder problems that cost him the 2016 season.
The Merced College ace was named the NorCal Pitcher of the Week after tossing a complete-game shutout against Porterville last week. McGhee allowed just one hit and one walk while striking out eight in his best performance of the season. He followed it up with another complete-game gem against Fresno City on Tuesday.