September 8, 2014

D-III soccer represented among Top 30 honorees for NCAA Woman of the Year

By Christan Shirk

Top 30 honorees for the 2014 NCAA Woman of the Year (l. to r.): Colleen Bouchard (Saint Benedict), Rachel Sadowski (Lynchburg), and Olivia Zitoli (William Smith),

Three graduated Division III women’s soccer players are among the Top 30 honorees for the 2014 NCAA Woman of the Year award. The selection committee’s announcement last Tuesday included the names of Colleen Bouchard (Saint Benedict), Rachel Sadowski (Lynchburg), and Olivia Zitoli (William Smith), each an All-American last fall as seniors. The trio are joined by seven other Division III student-athletes who were selected from the 51 conference and independent honorees representing 43 of the 44 Division III conferences. A total of 166 Division III student-athletes were nominated by their schools.

Across all three divisions there were a total of 446 nominees and 130 conference and independent honorees from which the committee selected the top ten from each division. For the 2014 award, nominees were required to have completed their intercollegiate athletic eligibility during the 2013-14 school year and have graduated by the end of the 2014 summer term with a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 2.50. Candidates were graded in the areas of service and leadership, academic achievement, and athletic excellence as well as their personal statement of no more than 200 words.

Later this month nine finalists—three from each division—will be named by the selection committee and forwarded the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics (CWA) who will choose the winner. The Top 30 honorees will be recognized and the 2014 NCAA Woman of the Year winner will be announced at the annual awards dinner and ceremony to be held in Indianapolis on Sunday, October 19. If Bouchard, Sadowski or Zitoli would win the 2014 award they would become just the fourth Division III student-athlete to do so in its 24-year history and the very first soccer player from any division to receive the honor. Much more information on the NCAA Woman of the Year award can be found below.

Colleen Bouchard, forward (Saint Benedict ’14)

Photo: Saint Benedict Athletic Media Relations

Colleen Bouchard, a playmaking forward at Saint Benedict, led the Blazers with 9 goals and 15 assists during her senior campaign, getting on the score sheet in 16 of the team’s 20 games and having a hand in nine game-winning goals. Her 15 assists ranked seventh in the nation and raised her career total to 35, breaking the previous team record by one. With Bouchard as captain for the second straight year, Saint Benedict won a team-record 16 games in 2013 en route to the MIAC regular-season and playoff championships and a berth in the NCAA tournament, repeat accomplishments from 2011 when Bouchard was conference co-Player-of-the-Year and team MVP for the first time. The four-time All-MIAC honoree and three-time NSCAA All-Region selection got picked as team MVP two more times and was Saint Benedict’s Athlete-of-the-Year for 2013-14. To cap off a decorated career, Bouchard was named to the 2013 NSCAA All-America first team.

Her excellence in the classroom also garnered Bouchard Academic All-Conference honors three times, culminating in a CoSIDA Academic All-Region selection as a senior. The Biology/Pre-Physical Therapy major graduated with a 3.77 cumulative GPA and received an NCAA Women’s Enhancement Program Postgraduate Scholarship. Throughout her time at Saint Benedict, Bouchard was also active off the field and out of the classroom. Among other student body and community involvements, she volunteered at a local hospital and with the Boys and Girls Club, participated in a youth outreach event in Brazil, helped coached a variety of youth soccer and basketball teams, and worked as a camp counselor.

Rachel Sadowski, defender (Lynchburg ‘14)

Photo: Lynchburg College Sports Information

Defender Rachel Sadowski, a two-time second team All-American, anchored the Lynchburg College backline her junior and senior years, providing crucial leadership playing in front of a first-time starter in goal in 2012 and a platoon of first-time starters in 2013. The Hornets never lost a conference regular season or playoff game during her four year on the team, winning four ODAC championships and three regular season titles. Sadowski was instrumental in Lynchburg’s run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament in 2012 when the defense posted a stingy 0.42 GAA and 18 shutouts, tenth and second best in the nation, respectively, and the centerback chipped in with five goals—two game-winners—and three assists. She was similarly important in the team’s 22-2-0 campaign in 2013 which set a new team record for wins in a season. Besides the two All-American honors, Sadowski was named to the All-ODAC first team, ODAC All-Tournament team, All-State first team, NSCAA All-Region first team, and the NSCAA All-America first team in both her junior and senior seasons, and in 2012 was voted VaSID College Division Player of the Year.

The Environmental Science major did even better in the classroom, graduating with a stellar 3.97 cumulative GPA. In doing so, Sadowski was named 2013 ODAC Scholar-Athlete of the Year, NSCAA first team Scholar All-American in 2012 and 2013, and CoSIDA second team Academic All-American in 2012 and first team in 2013. Like Bouchard, she was a 2014 recipient of an NCAA Women’s Enhancement Program Postgraduate Scholarship. Her interest in marine science and wetland ecology has led her to do volunteer work with the Delaware Center for Inland Bays.

Olivia Zitoli, defender (William Smith ‘14)

Photo: Larry Radloff, 2013 Defender of the Year, Olivia Zitoli, helped lead William Smith to a national championship last year. Defense defined the title-winning side that posted a national best 0.25 GAA and 21 shutouts, the latter setting not only a team record but falling just one shy of the most in Division III women’s history. Moreover, the Herons national final victory capped a 23-game win streak (tied 6th longest all-time) and 16-game shutout streak (3rd longest all-time). During those streaks, William Smith won their seventh straight Liberty League regular season title and conference championship. The defensive anchor and leader in 2013, Zitoli was also a key component of the 2011 backline which posted an incredible 0.14 GAA which ranks tied for 6th all-time. All told, Zitoli and her fellow graduating class set a new team standard for wins, fewest losses, and winning percentage over four years. Zitoli was rewarded for her decisive role in William Smith’s success in 2013 every possible accolade: All-Liberty League first team, Liberty League Player of the Year, NSCAA All-Region first team, NSCAA and All-America first team, Defender of the Year, and NSCAA National Player of the Year.

Zitoli also excelled in the classroom, earning Liberty League All-Academic honors three straight years, and was named the conference’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year as a senior. Additionally, the history major was named to the NSCAA Scholar All-Region and All-America first teams. Beyond athletic and academic accomplishments, as a senior Zitoli was the team representative in William Smith’s partnership with Team IMPACT, a non-profit that works to improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening illnesses by matching these courageous kids with college athletic teams and harnessing the power of teamwork. Zitoli and the Herons welcomed a 16-year old girl fighting brain cancer as their honorary teammate in 2013 in what undoubtedly was the mutually beneficial and inspirational experience.



NCAA Woman of the Year Award


  • NCAA member colleges and universities nominate their top graduating female student-athlete (March to mid-May).
  • Conference select up to two women from the nominees to represent the conference (late June).
  • The Woman of the Year selection committee selects the top 30 honorees–10 from each division (early September).
  • The selection committee determines the top three in each division; announces the top nine finalists (late September).
  • The NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics votes from among the finalists to determine the NCAA Woman of the Year.
  • The top 30 honorees are honored and the NCAA Woman of the Year winner is announced at the annual awards dinner and ceremony (mid-October).


  • Nominee must have completed intercollegiate eligibility in her primary sport by the end of the 2013-14* competitive season and received her undergraduate degree no later than the summer 2014* term (* - for the 2014 award).
  • Nominee must have a minimum cumulative grade-point average of 2.500 (4.000 scale).

Selection Criteria

  • Service and Leadership - maximum 5 pts (28%)
  • Based on the nominee's involvement in campus and community activities and organizations.

  • Academic Achievement - maximum 5 pts (28%)
  • Based on cumulative GPA as follows:
    3.600 - 4.000 5 pts.
    3.300 - 3.599 4 pts.
    3.000 - 3.299 3 pts.
    2.750 - 2.999 2 pts.
    2.500 - 2.749 1 pt.
  • Athletics Excellence - maximum 5 pts (28%)
  • Based on individual honors and team/individual finish as follows:
    Team champion, 1st Team All-American, member of Olympic team,
    or top-three finish in individual sport at NCAA championship
    5 pts.
    All-American other than first team 4 pts.
    All-Region, 1st Team All-Conference, team/individual conference
    champion or multisport letter-winner
    3 pts.
    Varsity letter-winner or all-conference honors other than first team 2 pts.
  • Personal Statement - maximum 3 pts (16%)
  • Based on the nominee’s own description, in 200 words or less, of how her community service and experiences as a scholar, an athlete, and a leader on her campus and in her community have influenced her life and shaped the person she is today.


Comments or feedback for the author?  E-mail Christan Shirk.

No contests today.
No contests today.
No contests today.