Jan. 14, 2002
NEW YORK, N.Y. - Duplicating her on-field heroics and number one status, Aly Wagner of Santa Clara was named the Soccer Buzz 2001 National Player of the Year. Leading her Broncos to their first-ever National Championship, Wagner finished first in balloting open to all 278 Division 1 Head Coaches and Soccer Buzz staff. The San Jose, Calif., junior becomes the first underclassman and second midfielder to ever win the Buzz Player of the Year honor.
Wagner helped Santa Clara to a #1 national finish and 23-2 overall mark after defeating North Carolina 1-0 in the NCAA title game. She scored 17 goals and 20 assists on the year and was named Offensive MVP of the NCAA College Cup. Named earlier a First Team All-America by Soccer Buzz, Wagner is the second Santa Clara athlete to earn National Player of the Year following Mandy Clemens in 1999.
After last year's runaway selection of Anne Makinen as top player, the 2001 voting was a three-way battle that nearly ended in a dead heat. Penn State's Christie Welsh narrowly collected the most first-place votes but Wagner won top honors on total votes cast for first and second choice. Jena Kluegel of North Carolina was right behind the top two vote-getters as she kept alive the Tar Heels' string of having a top four finisher all six years of the award. Welsh and Kluegel finished third and fourth, respectively, in last year's vote for Player of the Year.
Other top finishers for the 2001 award were Abby Wambach of Florida (4th), Lori Lindsey of Virginia (5th), Aleisha Cramer of BYU (6th) and Danielle Borgman of North Carolina (7th). Penn State's Welsh opened the 2001 season as the Preseason National Player of the Year and would have become only the second player, after Notre Dame's Anne Makinen, to claim both the preseason and postseason honor.
Past Soccer Buzz Players of the Year have been Anne Makinen, Notre Dame (2000), Mandy Clemens, Santa Clara (1999), Danielle Fotopoulos, Florida (1998), Robin Confer, North Carolina (1997), and Debbie Keller, North Carolina (1996).
For the complete 2001 postseason honors from Soccer Buzz, please visit SoccerBuzz.com.