Women’s soccer wins Big Ten Coach, Players of the Year honors
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – For the second time in her career as head coach of the Penn State women’s soccer program, Erica Walsh has been named Big Ten Coach of the Year the conference office announced on Wednesday (Oct. 31) morning.
Joining Walsh on the major award list is junior Maya Hayes (West Orange, N.J.), who was named Forward of the Year; senior Christine Nairn (Arnold, Md.), earning Midfielder of the Year; sophomore Whitney Church (Ashburn, Va.), being named Defender of the Year; and freshman Raquel Rodriguez (San Jose Costa, Rica), who earned Big Ten Freshman of the Year, a unanimous selection.
Walsh guided the Nittany Lions to their 15th-straight Big Ten regular season title and fifth ever undefeated Big Ten season. Walsh is 95-34-6 during her career at Penn State to go along with six NCAA Tournament victories. She has posted eight Big Ten wins or better in all six seasons at the helm, accumulating an impressive 53-7-2 record in Big Ten contests. Walsh earns Big Ten Coach of the Year honors for the second time in her career, last winning it in 2009.
Hayes, who earns her second-straight Forward of the Year honor, has added offense to the Nittany Lion lineup since her return from the U-20 World Cup where she scored four goals in helping USA to a gold medal. Hayes is tied for sixth in the conference in goals, but has played seven less games than the leader. She is Penn State’s fifth ever "Offensive" Player of the Year." The conference added separate winners for each position last season (forward, midfielder, defender and goalkeeper). Hayes earned two conference Offensive Player of the Week awards this season.
Nairn earns her first ever Midfielder of the Year honor and was named to the All-Big Ten First Team for all four years of her stellar Nittany Lion career. She currently sits third in the conference in points, fourth in goals and tied for third in assists. The senior did a nice job of filling in for Hayes’ early in the season in the offensive attack, scoring seven goals in the seven contests that Hayes missed.
Church earns All-Big Ten recognition as she picked up Defender of the Year honors. The sophomore had big shoes to fill when senior defenders Lexi Marton (Aurora, Ontario) and Jackie Molinda (Pittsburgh, Pa.) went down early in the season to ACL injuries. Acting as the center back, Church has done a stellar job anchoring a Nittany Lion defense that has posted seven shutouts this season.
A unanimous selection, Rodriguez earns Freshman of the Year after scoring three goals and eight assists during her rookie campaign. The Costa Rica native finished tied for fifth in the conference in assists. Taking the majority of the Nittany Lion corner kicks this season, Rodriguez’s seven assists in Big Ten play led the conference.
In addition to her appointment as the conference’s Freshman of the Year, Rodriguez was selected to second team All-Big Ten. Joining Rodriguez on the second team is senior Maddy Evans (Glenside, Pa.) and senior goalkeeper Erin McNulty (Winnipeg, Manitoba). Additionally joining Rodriguez on the Freshman Team is Mallory Weber (Novi, Mich.), who is third on the team with 12 goals this season.
Senior Amanda Dotten (Anchorage, Alaska) was named a Big Ten Sportsmanship Award honoree.
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Coach of the Year
Forward of the Year
Midfielder of the Year
Defender of the Year
Freshman of the Year