2012 Women's Soccer Season in Review

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The Big Ten enjoyed a successful 2012 women's soccer season, capped by Penn State's run to the NCAA Division I Tournament final. The Nittany Lions captured their 15th straight regular season title, the most consecutive titles by a Big Ten women's program in any sport. In the conference tournament, second-seeded Ohio State took the crown, its third in school history.   

NCAA Championship Success: Five conference squads earned berths to the NCAA Tournament, the seventh time in the last 10 years that five or more Big Ten teams were selected to the bracket. Ohio State earned the conference's automatic berth after capturing the Big Ten Tournament title, while Illinois, Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin were each selected to the field. The Illini advanced to the second round, but were ousted by eventual champion, North Carolina. The Wolverines and Nittany Lions battled in the round of 16, as Penn State came out victorious in a penalty kick thriller. The Nittany Lions would go on to the national title game, losing a heartbreaker to the Tar Heels. To read more about the Big Ten in the NCAA Championship, click here and here.

We Are The Champions: For the 15th consecutive year, Penn State won the Women's Soccer Big Ten Championship, as the Nittany Lions boasted a 10-0-1 record in conference play. Second-seeded Ohio State claimed the conference tournament crown, defeating  No. 5 Illinois, 2-1, in the title match. For more on the regular season conference champions, click here. To read more about the Big Ten Tournament and All-Tournament Team, click here.

Conference Postseason Accolades: The conference announced its women's soccer All-Big Ten teams and individual award winners right before the Big Ten Tournament kicked off. Penn State collected five of the six individual awards as Erica Walsh was named Coach of the Year, Maya Hayes collected Forward of the Year honors, Christine Nairn earned Midfielder of the Year status, Whitney Church was honored as Defender of the Year and Raquel Rodriguez garnered Freshman of the Year laurels. Michigan's Haley Kopmeyer collected the Goalkeeper of the Year award. For more on the postseason awards and the complete All-Big Ten teams, click here

In the Final Polls: Three conference teams earned rankings in the final NSCAA/Continental Tire poll of the season, as Big Ten Champion and national runner-up Penn State (21-4-2) led the way at No. 2. Michigan (16-5-3) clocked in at No. 19 and Ohio State (16-4-2) held the No. 23 spot. Illinois (10-9-4) was receiving votes. For the complete final poll, click here 

Where We Rank: Minnesota's Taylor Uhl and Ohio State's Tiffany Cameron led the nation in total goals scored this season, each tallying 21 scores. Uhl also led the country in total points (51) and was second in points per game (1.05), while Cameron was first in game-winning goals (9), third in goals per game (0.955) and fourth in total points (47). Michigan's Haley Kopmeyer ranked fourth in the nation in goalie minutes played (2246.41), while the Penn State team was fourth in scoring offense. For the complete season's statistics, click here.

National Names: Several conference standouts were awarded nationally for their success on and off the field during the 2012 season. Penn State's Christine Nairn was named a MAC Hermann Trophy finalist, along with being a NSCAA first-team All-American and Soccer America first-team MVP selection. Teammate Maya Hayes was also a NSCAA first-team All-America pick and a Soccer America second-team MVP selection. Nittany Lion freshmen Raquel Rodriguez and Mallory Weber were named to the Soccer America All-Freshman first team. Illinois' Vanessa DiBernardo collected second-team Soccer America MVP honors and third-team NSCAA All-America status, while Michigan's Haley Kopmeyer earned first-team Soccer America recognition and second-team NSCAA All-America laurels, along with Ohio State's Tiffany Cameron. Minnesota's Taylor Uhl also earned NSCAA third-team honors. In the classroom, DiBernardo and Ohio State's Megan Fuller were named NSCAA Scholar All-America and Minnesota's Allie Phillips collected Capital One Academic All-America accolades from CoSIDA.

Congrats to the Coaches: 
Penn State head women's soccer coach Erica Walsh was named the NCAA Division I Coach of the Year by Soccer America. Walsh led the Nittany Lions to their 15th consecutive Big Ten title and their first ever trip to the national title game. Additionally, Illinois coach Janet Rayfield was announced as the first ever female to receive the NSCAA 2012 Honor Award. The Honor Award is the most prestigious distinction the NSCAA presents, as it recognizes the individual's contribution to the game of soccer and the NSCAA. 

All-Region Recognition: Sixteen women's soccer players were named to the NSCAA All-Great Lakes Region Team, as standouts from conference institutions made up 16 of the 33 representatives, including seven of 11 on the first team. For the complete All-Great Lakes Region team, click here. 

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