About the Hammerheads
The Hammerheads are a locally owned professional soccer franchise founded in 1996. Competing in the United Soccer Leagues, the Hammerheads have grown to be an internationally recognized organization. The team currently plays in the American Division of the USL Pro League, in the second tier of pro soccer in the United States. The team is coached by David Irving and plays in the same division as regional rivals Charleston (S.C.), Charlotte, Orlando and Richmond (Va.). All home games are played at Legion Stadium. The Hammerheads Organization strives to bring quality, affordable family entertainment to Wilmington and the surrounding areas. In past seasons, the Hammerheads have hosted several Major League Soccer Teams, including DC United, the New York Red Bulls, and the English Premier League’s Sunderland AFC. The Hammerheads have had success on a national level in the past, winning its league championship in 2003 and defeating MLS franchises in the 2003 and 2009 US Open Cup.
The History of the Hammerheads
From 1996 to Present
The Hammerheads undergo a Sophomore Slump. Although they finished with a better record of 9-9 in the newly renamed D3 Pro League, they fail to make the playoffs.
A changing of the guards; in March of 1998 Bill Rudisill, Bruce Cavenaugh, Dr. Dale Boyd and David Schroeder assume leadership of the club. The team finishes fifth in the South Atlantic Division of the D3 Pro League, with a record of 8-10.
A season of new beginning for the Hammerheads as the club moves its games to Legion Stadium and current head coach, David Irving is hired. Irving guides the team to a 12-0 start. The Hammerheads finish the season 14-4, losing in the conference final.
Hammerheads host their first ever Open Cup match with 5,500 fans in attendance. Playing against the NY/NJ Metrostars of the MLS, the Hammerheads narrowly lose 2-1. The club finishes the season with a record of 13-4-1.
Because of the renovations to Legion Stadium, the Hammerheads play their home matches at UNCW. The team goes 11-7, finishing the regular season in first place in the Southern Conference.
The most accomplished female soccer player in U.S. history, Mia Hamm, leads her Washington Freedom against the Carolina Courage of WUSA at Legion Stadium. The Hammerheads lose to the Long Island Rough Riders in a nationally televised National Championship game at Legion Stadium, finishing the year at 14-4-2.
The Hammerheads win their first National Championship in the newly renamed Pro Soccer League, finishing 11-6-3. The team also makes it to the quarterfinals of the Open Cup, losing to DC United of the MLS. For the second year in a row the organization hosts the Washington Freedom and the Carolina Courage of the WUSA.
The organization hosts its first ever international team, Sunderland AFC of the English Championship League. Mayor Spencer Broadhurst declares July 21, 2004 “Wilmington Hammerheads Day.” The defending PSL champs finish 10-7-4 losing in the first round of the playoffs.
The Wilmington Hammerheads celebrate 10 years as an organization. The team ends the season with a 13-7-2 record, losing in the semifinals of the newly renamed USL Second Division.
The Hammerheads host the New York Red Bulls of the MLS in the fourth round of the Open Cup. The Hammerheads end up losing 3-1. The Hammerheads finish the regular season at 4-7-9 and fail to make post season play for the first time since 1997.
The Hammerheads once again finish the season at 4-7-9 and fail to make the playoffs for the second consecutive season.
The Hammerheads look to rebound this year after two consecutive disappointing seasons. The Hammerheads finish the season at 4-9-7 for the third year in a row.
The Hammerheads ARE BACK!
“It is a thrill to be a part of bringing the Wilmington Hammerheads back to Legion Stadium and to the Wilmington fans,” said Rudisill, who will be joined by partners Dr. Clyde Harris, Cindy Harris, Dr. Mario Basegoda and Dr. Sara Borcherding. “The Hammerheads are very much a part of our local culture and it is our hope that you will support us again as you did before.”
Founded in 1996, the Hammerheads enjoyed a great deal of on-field success, reaching the playoffs in 10 of 14 seasons and capturing the 2003 USL Second Division title. They also pulled off some memorable upsets in the U.S. Open Cup, knocking off MLS sides Dallas Burn in 2003 and Chicago Fire in 2009.