After leading the lady Tar Heels in minutes played her sophomore and junior seasons, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill student and Fighting Scots’ alumna Megan Brigman was poised to help lead her soccer squad to glory in late 2012.
Playing an integral part on two straight lady Tar Heels’ teams that made it to the Sweet-16 of the NCAA division-1 soccer tournament, Brigman (a senior defender) was an elder statesman for a talented-team with national championship ambitions.
Those ambitions were realized in early December when the lady Tar Heels won their 22nd national championship, by far the most in division-1 women’s soccer history.
However, from the opening minutes of the lady Tar Heels’ season debut onward, Brigman was forced to cheer her teammates on from the sidelines. Brigman broke the lower tibia in her left leg, which proved to be a season-ending injury for the UNC senior.
But for anyone that knows the ultra-competitive former Fighting Scots’ standout, they know that Brigman refuses to allow a bad break from being the final chapter written in her UNC athletic career. When it became clear that her injury would spoil her senior season, Brigman opted to red shirt and give herself one last chance to hoist a trophy that she’s worked her entire life to obtain.
“Watching my team win was fun and painful at the same time because I should’ve been out there playing with them,” Brigman said. “But I’m really excited about this year’s team and playing the role of a senior leader. I want to help guide the younger class all the way to another national championship.”
By the time the ink dried on her Scotland High School diploma in 2009, Brigman had become one of the most decorated student athletes in her school’s history.
The recipient of the SHS “Female Athlete of the Year” award for 2008-09, Brigman was a four-time soccer letter winner and is the current holder of the school record for goals with 171. She was an All-Conference and All-Region selection all four years of her SHS soccer career and was named to the All-State team in 2008. Brigman was a member of the North State Team and East All-Star teams as well.
And that was just in one sport: Brigman earned a slew of All-Conference honors as a point guard and shooting guard for the basketball lady Scots (as well as being named team MVP three different times), and was a member of a Scotland doubles tennis team which captured two conference titles and a regional title as well.
Brigman was also highly active in the Charlotte Soccer Club, and on days when she would travel to games and practices, Brigman would get her homework done en route to becoming a member of the National Honors Society and Student Government.
Due to her list of accomplishments extending a mile long, it was no surprise that UNC came calling the summer before her senior year of high school.
“I couldn’t believe it when they offered me a scholarship,” Brigman said. “It was a dream come true, because as good as UNC is for sports, it’s even better for academics.”
Once she earned her way into a starting role after her freshman season, Brigman has been a fixture on the field for the lady Tar Heels. Her sophomore and junior seasons saw Brigman lead the team in minutes played consecutive years, including playing the entire stretch of 18 out of the 24 games she played in just her second season. As a junior, Brigman logged 1,834 minutes as well. And even though she has become a mainstay on defense, Brigman has scored six career goals and one assist on just 14 shot attempts up until her senior season.
Unfortunately, it was a senior season that barely got off the ground for Brigman when the lady Tar Heels (who began the season ranked fourth in the nation) traveled to the University of Portland (Portland, OR) for their season opener Aug 17.
“Right at the beginning of the game we had a free kick and the ball came to me off a deflection,” Brigman said. “I went for the goal and got about six yards away when a girl kicked my leg going for the ball. It was really bad pain but I thought it was just a stinger and that it would go away. I tried to run but I knew something was wrong.”
The same lady Tar Heels’ squad that Brigman helped helm previous three seasons went 17-5-2 en route to besting Penn State 4-1 in the national championship game, which took place Dec. 2 in San Diego.
But all the while, Brigman rehabbed her broken leg and found resolve in the fact that she had another season left in the tank, despite the sadness she felt watching many of her freshmen class play their final year of eligibility.
Brigman has since made a full recovery from her injury, and when she takes the field one last time in the early fall of this year, she will again be part of a UNC team loaded with talent and a top-ranked recruiting class.
And, if the team is successful in returning to the national championship game, they will have the chance to win the 23rd women’s soccer title in school history right in their own backyard. The game is set to be played in Raleigh.
No matter the outcome of her final season, Brigman has chalked up many unforgettable memories and experiences at UNC. She is currently majoring in Communications with hopes of one day getting into sports broadcasting, which would utilize the expertise she has acquired in her many years of sports success.
After suffering an injury that nearly ended her playing career on a quiet note, Brigman also has a message to younger student athletes who may place their athletic accomplishments ahead of the classroom.
“Never stop working, and when it comes time to make a decision on college, make sure that your education comes first,” said Brigman, who has been a member of the Carolina Leadership Academy Program during her tenure at UNC. “You never know when your playing career is going to end so it’s important to have an education to fall back upon.”