Campbell University

Campbell University Athletics
P.O. Box 10 Buies Creek, NC 27506
Division 1 North Carolina Southeast
Private Medium National competitor


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Samar Azem

Samar Azem was named head coach in July of 2017 after serving as an assistant coach for one year and an associate head coach for two seasons. An alumna of Campbell, Azem was a goalkeeper for the Camels women's soccer program from 2003-07.

Azem led the Camels to an overall record of 10-7-2 (5-2-2 Big South) in her first year at the helm of the Campbell women's soccer program in 2017. For the second consecutive season, the Camels netted 40 goals, which led the Big South. CU also led the conference in goals per game (2.11), points (108) and corners (108). Under Azem's tutelage, sophomore Alexa Genas had a historic year, netting 15 goals, the fourth most in a single season in program history. At the end of the season, Genas was named the Big South Attacking Player of the Year, the second player in Campbell history to win the award. Additionally, Genas, Anna Brantley and Shelby Denkert picked up all-conference accolades and Siara Southerland was named to the all-freshman team. Azem led the Camels to its fourth consecutive appearance in the Big South Championship semifinals.

In 2016, Azem coached an attack that led the conference in goals (40), assists (43) and points (123). The Camels had six athletes named to all-conference teams, including Alexa Genas, Payton Ormsby and Murita Storey, who received first team all-conference honors. The Campbell defense posted six shutouts on the year, including three in a row to end the season and clinch a top four seed for the Camels in the conference tournament.

In her second season with Campbell, Azem continued to improve the Camels goalkeepers and defense. The team finished the campaign with a 0.99 goals-against average overall and a 1.11 goals-against in Big South play. The senior goalkeeping duo recorded a combined eight shutouts during the season en route to Campbell's runner-up finish in the Big South Tournament. She also led the team in training sessions, which saw the team reach high offensive outputs. The Camels offensive scoring per game ranked fourth in the Big South (1.52), with their assists (39) ranking first in the conference and 26th in Division I. The team finished third in the conference in total goals on the season (32) and second in total points (103).

During her first season at Campbell in 2014, Azem primarily focused on goalkeepers and the defense. Prior to Azem's arrival, the 2013-14 season had a 2.27 GAA (39 goals), which was second lowest in the Big South. During her first season, the Camels defensive group only allowed 24 goals in 18 matches, earning the second best GAA in the Big South at 1.18. The tandem of Alexis Connors and Samantha Lawson combined for five shutouts, improving on the three during the 2013 season. During the course of conference play, Azem also devoted time to working with and bettering the other aspects of the team throughout training and Big South games.

Prior to arriving at Campbell, Azem was the head coach at Anderson University for three seasons (2011-13). At Anderson, she compiled a 21-24-9 overall record, with a 12-10-7 mark in three years of South Atlantic Conference play. After the 2013 season, three Trojans were placed on SAC all-conference teams, including three-time selection, goalkeeper Kaitlyn Neipp. Azem coached 10 Trojans to postseason all-conference accolades during her tenure.

In 2011, Anderson reached the semifinal round of the SAC Tournament for the first time in program history. Azem also guided the team to a No. 8 ranking in the Southeast Region during the regular season.

Prior to Anderson, Azem served as an assistant coach at Presbyterian for the 2010 season, where she primarily focused on goalkeeper training. Blue Hose goalkeepers recorded five shutouts on the season with a 1.99 GAA, the strongest by a PC team during the transition to NCAA Division I. While at Presbyterian, Azem took the lead in designing, creating and implementing PC’s first-ever winter camp and worked with supporters and community groups to raise funds for facility upgrades and to boost awareness in the community.

Azem was the top assistant at Mercer during the 2008 and 2009 seasons. The Bears won their first ever regular season Atlantic Sun championship in 2008, as Azem coached keeper Jean Worts. Her GAA ranked 11th in the nation among Division I goalkeepers, while the overall defense ranked sixth nationally.

In 2007, Azem began her coaching career as an assistant at Brevard College, where she coordinated recruiting, team travel, scouting and game-day preparations.

Azem also brings club coaching experience to the Creek. She was the head coach of the 2012 97 CESA Anderson and part of the SC Olympic Development Program staff. While at Mercer, she trained goalkeepers at the Central Georgia Soccer Association and the Macon Soccer Club, two of Central Georgia’s largest soccer clubs. Azem has trained and evaluated young players at Carolina Elite Soccer Association and has also organized and overseen camp and clinic sessions with a number of top Georgia clubs in the Atlanta region.

During her collegiate playing career at Campbell, Azem helped lead the Fighting Camels to the A-Sun Conference regular-season and tournament championships in 2004. In 2005, she was named to the all-Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament Team for her performance in goal, helping the Camels return to the conference tournament title match. Azem also garnered A-Sun all-academic recognition and earned the squad’s Coaches Award twice (2005-06).

She remains in the CU women’s soccer record book, currently ranking fifth all-time in saves (183), tenth in solo shutouts (5) and seventh in GAA (1.39)

The Jos, Nigeria native graduated with a bachelor’s degree in broadcasting and a minor in psychology from Campbell in 2007 and earned her master’s degree in education from Mercer in 2010.

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Daniel Branley

Daniel Branley was added to the Campbell women's soccer coaching staff in February of 2019.

"I am extremely excited to welcome Daniel and his wife Katie to our Campbell University community. We are thrilled to add a coach of high caliber and more importantly a class person and mentor to our student-athletes and recruits," said Campbell head coach Samar Azem. "It was clear as soon as I spoke with Daniel that he was the right fit, he has a lot of attributes that fit in with our methodologies and standards.

Branley assists in all aspects of the program including tactics, player development, scouting, recruiting and more.

"Daniel has gained a lot of experience and been successful at his stops as a player and as a coach. He is a meticulous teacher of the game who understands the importance of connecting with and empowering student-athletes through that process," continued Azem. "He is a tireless worker and operates at a high standard. I believe he is going to bring a very important value to every aspect of what we do on the pitch, on the recruiting trail, and in the day to day lives of our student-athletes and our staff."

Branley comes to Campbell from Campbellsville University where he served at the helm of the women's soccer program for one season. While at Campbellsville, he lead the Tigers to a 14-10 record and led the charge to boost the Tigers' offensive output from sixth to first in the Mid-South Conference after netting 81 goals.

Branley led Campbellsville to their first NCCAA Championship Tournament appearance since the 2016 season and to a NCCAA Mid-East Regional Title.

"I would like to thank Coach Samar for giving me this incredible opportunity and I look forward to repaying the faith she has shown in me," said Branley. "I am thrilled to be continuing my coaching development in such a top class environment and working with some of the best people in collegiate athletics."

Prior to his time at Campbellsville, Branley served as an assistant for both the men's and women's programs at his alma mater Bryan College. Branley helped the Lions to a Appalachian Athletic Conference regular season title in 2015 followed by a 2016 NAIA Championship Tournament appearance on the men's side.

While working with the women's team, the Lions tabbed their first ever AAC regular season title and claimed the runner-up spot in the NAIA Championship – falling in overtime, 1-0.

"I am excited to help the team meet its targets and I look forward to working with all the quality student athletes that will come through the program. My wife and I can't wait to join the Campbell community," Branley closed.

Prior to his coaching stint at Bryan College he also served as an assistant for Chattanooga FC of the Women's National Professional Soccer League.

Branley, a graduate from Bryan College with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Communication Studies, went on to earn his masters in Sports Management in 2014.

During his playing career at Bryan, he netted 35 goals, including 16 during his junior campaign. Branley led the nation in game winning goals (10) during his junior season which was good enough for All-American honors. His team went on to claim the 2013 AAC regular season and tournament titles. Branley closed out his career at Bryan with 82 total points and tabbed accolades such as AAC Regular Season MVP, NAIA All-East Region First Team, AAC Tournament MVP, AAC Offensive Player of the Year, and multiple AAC Player of the Week awards.

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Shelby Denkert

Head coach Samar Azem announced the addition of former Campbell player Shelby Denkert to her staff in August of 2019.

Denkert, who played for the Camels from 2014 to 2017, will serve as the Director of Soccer Management and will be responsible for the daily planning and execution of team practices and events.

"I am beyond excited to come back and work with this team," said Denkert. "Campbell women's soccer has had such an amazing impact on my life. I am looking forward to helping the team grow and prosper this year, on the other side, not as a player, this time."

The former midfielder sits tied for first in school history for matches played and started (79).

"It is always great when we can bring an alumna back that is extremely passionate about Campbell University and Campbell women's soccer," said Campbell head coach Samar Azem who coached Denkert as well. "She was a captain for us, she's in the record books here, and she is a great role model." Shelby had a phenomenal career here, she understands the expectations of our program, she understands the landscape that we compete in, and most importantly she understands our student-athletes and has great relationships with people across campus.

Denkert capped off her career as a Fighting Camel by being named First Team All-Big South following her senior season as well as being as being named to the Big South All-Freshman team her rookie season to bookend her career.

"Shelby had a phenomenal career here. She understands the expectations of our program, she understands the landscape that we compete in, and most importantly she understands our student-athletes and has great relationships with people across campus," continued Azem. "We are beyond privileged to have her back and the dynamic with her and our new staff is outstanding. We have a great staff and she's a fantastic addition to the program, our staff, and the department."

The Miami, Fla. native also tabbed Big South All-Tournament team honors in 2016 and 2017.

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