FERRIS STATE RECOGNIZES 2007 WOMEN'S SOCCER AWARD WINNERS
Senior Kristie Smilanich Honored As Team's Most Valuable Player
The Ferris State University women's soccer program recently held its annual post-season awards banquet to celebrate team and individual accomplishments for the 2007 season. The event was held at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Conference Center in Big Rapids, Mich.
Senior Kristie Smilanich (Kalamazoo/Christian) was voted by her teammates as the squad's Most Valuable Player of the Year. Smilanich led the Bulldogs in scoring for the second straight season with 36 points on a team-high tying 14 goals and a squad-best eight assists in 16 matches. The 5-6 midfielder tallied at least a goal in nine contests for the 2007 season, which included four multiple-goal outings to go with two game winners. She garnered Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Women's Soccer Player of the Week laurels (8/27) as a result of totaling a combined 10 points (4-2=10) in the Bulldogs' 2007 season opening two matches, highlighted by three goals and two assists in a season-opening victory at Kentucky Wesleyan (8/24). Smilanich concluded her four-year (2004-07) career placing second among Ferris State's all-time leaders with 103 points while ranking second also in both goals (41) and assists (21). She produced six game-winning goals in her career. The 2006 All-GLIAC First-Teamer holds the distinction of being the first-ever All-American in the program's history after achieving 2006 Daktronics NCAA Division II Women's Soccer First-Team accolades. A season ago, Smilanich was the winner of the Ferris' Attacking Player of the Year Award after pacing the Bulldogs with 39 points on 18 goals and three assists in 18 outings.
The Most Improved Player Award was presented to senior midfielder Nicole Sawada (Westfield, Ind./Carmel), who turned in her most productive season at Ferris State this past fall. Sawada finished fourth in team scoring with eight points on two goals and four assists in 19 contests. The 5-2 midfielder, who gained the starting assignment in 15 matches, registered multi-points on two occasions - four points (2-0=4) versus Gannon (10/5) and two points (0-2=2) against Northwood (10/14). Sawada registered 13 career points on three goals with seven assists in 53 matches.
Heather O'Keefe (Ada/Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central) was awarded the Attacking Player of the Year. A starter in all 19 games, O'Keefe produced her best season ever with a team second-best 35 points on 14 goals with seven assists. The 5-3 senior forward chalked up 11 multiple-point game outings this campaign, which included three multi-goal single-match performances with two markers apiece at Kentucky Wesleyan (8/24), vs. Missouri-St. Louis (9/2), and against Northwood (10/14). O'Keefe closed out her career (2005-07) ranking fourth in points (68), goals (26), and assists (16) on Ferris State's all-time leaders list. She netted five career game-winning goals.
The Defensive Player of the Award went to junior Jackie Back (Ortonville/Ortonville-Brandon), a 2007 All-GLIAC Second-Team selection. Back compiled two points on a pair of assists in 19 matches. A starter in 18 matches this season, the 5-2 defender tallied a helper in back-to-back conference home contests against Mercyhurst (10/7) and Saginaw Valley State (10/12). In 55 career appearances to date, Back has accumulated six career points with a goal and four assists.
For the second consecutive year, sophomore goalkeeper Kari Alsager (Mount Pleasant) earned the Don Edwards Scholarship Award. The team award is presented to the women's soccer student-athlete who is the most dedicated to the team on and off the field while maintaining a high grade point average. The 5-5 netminder started in 18 of 19 contests this season and posted a 6-12-1 record with a 3.18 goals-against average (60 goals allowed) and a .627 save percentage (101 saves) in 1,699 minutes of action. Alsager owns a 6-12-1 mark with a 3.26 goals-against average (63 goals allowed) and a 627 save percentage (106 saves) in 23 appearances.
Ferris State closed out the 2007 campaign at 6-12-1 overall while posting a fifth-place 4-4-0 GLIAC mark under second-year head coach Neathan Gibson. The Bulldogs also made an appearance in the inaugural GLIAC Women's Soccer Tournament this past fall. Ferris' 132 points and 40 assists this season both were school records while the squad's 46 goals tied for top all-time single-season honors.