January 25, 2016

2015 D3soccer.com Women's All-America teams


(l. to r.) Forward of the Year Nikki Elsaesser, Midfielder of the Year Mai Mitsuyama, Defender of the Year Zoe Jackson Gibson, and Goalkeeper of the Year Lizzy Crist.

The 2015 season has come to a close and now that the new men's and women's champions have been crowned, the sixth annual D3soccer.com All-America teams are ready for release. The teams were chosen by D3soccer.com staff, Division III soccer coaches and sports information directors from a field of almost 400 nominations.

Thirty-three players representing twenty-six schools and twenty different conferences have been named to the three All-America teams. Nine of this year's honorees are repeat selections, three of which have been selected for the third straight season. One of those three, Nikki Elsaesser of Messiah College, is the first women's player to be selected to the first team three times. As to be expected, the teams were dominated by seniors, but not since 2010, the inaugural year of the D3soccer.com honors, have the teams comprised as many seniors.  Nine juniors and two sophomores round out this year's selections.

The D3soccer.com Forward of the Year is Messiah College senior Nikki ElsaesserThe three-time MAC Commonwealth Conference Offensive Player of the Year ended the season with 31 goals, 15 assists, and 77 points—all career highs—that ranked second (tie), third (tie), and second nationally. Eight of Elsaesser's tallies were game-winners, five coming in her streak of twelve straight games with a goal from October 13 through the Falcon's NCAA Elite 8 victory. Her 77 points set a program record and helped Messiah to an undefeated 22-0-3 mark. During their tournament run to the national semifinal, she scored seven goals with one assist. Elsaesser finished her Messiah career ranked second in career goals, assists, points and game-winners.

Senior Mai Mitsuyama of Williams College is the D3soccer.com Midfielder of the Year award winner, following up her Third Team selection in 2014. The senior co-captain of the 2015 national champions was one of the catalysts for the Ephs reaching back-to-back NCAA tournament finals.  The four-year starter has been a versatile constant in the Eph's midfield, bringing speed, quickness on the ball, and game experience that has enabled the Ephs to play a strong free-flowing transition game that has been at the center of the team's success in recording 21 wins for a second straight season. Mitsuyama also provides stability, consistency, and leadership which has been recognized by three straight NESCAC first Team honors.

William Smith College senior Zoe Jackson Gibson has earned the D3soccer.com Defender of the Year award. With Jackson Gibson anchoring the backline, the Herons limited opponents to an average of just 5.3 shots and a miserly 2.5 shots on goal. From mid-September to early November, the William Smith defense went 14 games and just over 1367 minutes without conceding a goal. In total, the Herons logged 17 shutouts, tied for sixth most nationally, and allowed just 6 goals in 22 matches which translated to a 0.26 goals-against-average that ranked fourth (tied) in the nation. With a pair of first-years sharing goalkeeping duties, Jackson Gibson's leadership was essential for the Herons and the four-year starter was named Liberty League Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season.

The D3soccer.com Goalkeeper of the Year is junior Lizzy Crist of national runner-up Washington University (Mo.). With the Bears playing perhaps the toughest schedule in the nation, Crist faced an average of 4.4 shots on goal from about nine total shots per game and posted a .903 save percentage that ranked eighth in the nation. Her resulting goals against average of 0.42 tied for twelfth-best nationally and she helped Washington tie the program record with 16 shutouts. Washington went 20-3-1 which also tied the program record for wins and reached the national final for the second time. Crist, a first team UAA All-Association honoree, was especially instrumental in the Bears' elimination of undefeated Messiah in the national semifinal when she stopped four penalty kicks in the deciding shootout.

The 2015 D3soccer.com women's Coach of the Year is Michelyne Pinard of Williams College. Coach Pinard's Ephs won the program's first ever national championship after coming up just short the previous year, losing a penalty kick shootout in the 2014 final. It is the ninth straight season that Pinard has led the Eph's to a berth in the NCAA tournament. This year's squad, like last year's, won a program record 21 games, this time with a 21-1-2 mark. Having completed her 14th season as Williams head coach, Pinard sits on the doorstep of the 200-win milestone with a career record of 199-43-28 (.790). She is the winningest head coach in program history and her career winning percentage ranks in the top ten among active coaches in Division III women's soccer.

2015 WOMEN'S PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
Forward of the Year: Nikki Elsaesser (Sr.), Messiah
Midfielder of the Year: Mai Mitsuyama (Sr.), Williams
Defender of the Year: Zoe Jackson Gibson (Sr.), William Smith
Goalkeeper of the Year: Lizzy Crist (Jr.), Washington U.
2015 WOMEN'S ALL-AMERICANS
FIRST TEAM
Pos. Player Year School
F Nikki Elsaesser ** Sr. Messiah
F Destinie Graves Jr. Centre
M Mai Mitsuyama * Sr. Williams
M Olivia Lillegraven Sr. Washington U.
M Macaulay Soto * Sr. Messiah
M Chestley Strother Sr. Texas-Tyler
D Zoe Jackson Gibson * Sr. William Smith
D Mary Kate Schmidt * Sr. Illinois Wesleyan
D Kayla Deckert Jr. Messiah
D Emily Donnan Sr. Trinity (Texas)
GK Lizzy Crist Jr. Washington U.
SECOND TEAM
Pos. Player Year School
F Krista Longo Sr. William Smith
F Raba Nassif Jr. Stevens
F Nicci Bermudes ** Sr. Aurora
M Jade Woll * Sr. Lynchburg
M Amalia Acorda-Fey * Sr. Puget Sound
M Kelsey King Sr. Ithaca
D Emily Maxwell So. Lynchburg
D Liz Blonden Sr. Puget Sound
D Tori Dillard Jr. Centre
D Shannon Byrd Sr. Hardin-Simmons
GK Holly Burwick Sr. Amherst
THIRD TEAM
Pos. Player Year School
F Brianna Reid Jr. UW-Whitewater
F Olivia Huber ** Sr. Thomas More
F Katie Vanden Avond Sr. St. Norbert
M Tori Iatarola So. Carnegie Mellon
M Taylor TenHarmsel Sr. Calvin
M Caroline Khanna Jr. Swarthmore
M Savannah Laursen Sr. Redlands
D Michaela Friedman Jr. Brandeis
D Brianna Cummings Sr. TCNJ
D Gabrianna Boldinski Sr. Buffalo State
GK Allison Dobles Jr. Nazareth
* previous D3soccer.com All-America honors
2015 WOMEN'S COACH OF THE YEAR
Michelyne Pinard, Williams (21-1-2) - 2015 National Champions
No contests today.
No contests today.
No contests today.