Jan. 8, 2002
BERKELEY, Calif. - Junior midfielder Aly Wagner, the centerpiece of a spectacular Santa Clara squad that captured the NCAA Division I women's soccer championship in 2001, has been selected Player of the Year by Soccer America magazine.
Wagner, a junior playmaker from San Jose, Calif., scored 17 goals-including a blast to the upper-left corner that beat North Carolina in the NCAA title game-and dished off 20 assists, prodding the freshman-heavy Broncos to their first national title in women's soccer.
She's joined among Soccer America's 11-player College Women's MVPs by Santa Clara defender Danielle Slaton, who also was an MVP selection in 1999. Jerry Smith, who toughened up the Broncos' beautiful game and guided the Broncos to a 23-2 mark and victories over the Nos. 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 seeds, has been chosen Coach of the Year.
Slaton is one of two repeat MVPs. Penn State forward Christie Welsh also was selected in 1999 and 2000. Wagner, who also won the Honda Award as the nation's best player and was a finalist for the Hermann and Missouri Athletic Club honors, is the first Santa Clara athlete honored as a Soccer America player of the year.
The nation's top two conferences dominate the team. The West Coast Conference, which sent two teams to the NCAA College Cup in Dallas, has four MVPs: Wagner, Slaton, St. Mary's goalkeeper Ruth Montgomery and Portland striker Christine Sinclair.
Soccer America has chosen Players of the Year since 1984 and Collegiate MVPs since 1976. This year's MVPs will be featured in the magazine's Jan. 21 issue. Soccer America's Freshman of the Year will be announced in two weeks and featured in the Feb. 4 issue.
Soccer Buzz Magazine released its regional winners today, with Wagner earning West Region Player of the Year honors. She was one of three Broncos named to the All-West Regional first team, as Slaton and sophomore midfielder Veronica Zepeda were also honored. Junior midfielder Devvyn Hawkins and freshman forward Leslie Osborne were named to the second team while senior defender Anna Kraus earned third-team recognition.
The WCC dominated the West Region All-Freshman team with nine total selections, led by Pepperdine's three players. Portland, Santa Clara, Stanford and USC each had two freshmen named to the regional freshman team. The Broncos' selections were Jessica Ballweg and Osborne.
Forty-five schools comprising the West Region were eligible for Buzz awards, presented since 1996. Awards were decided by a vote open to all Division 1 Head Coaches and Soccer Buzz staff. Soccer Buzz national awards will be announced later this week. For a complete list of 2001 awards, as well as all honors presented since 1996, visit "Buzz Honors" at SoccerBuzz.com.