2017 Women’s Soccer Season in Review
Dec. 21, 2017


The Big Ten enjoyed much success on and off the field in 2017, highlighted by five schools earning berths to the NCAA Tournament. Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers and Wisconsin advanced to the postseason, marking the 22nd time in 23 seasons that at least five current Big Ten members have competed in the NCAA Tournament.

NCAA Tournament: Of the five Big Ten schools in this year’s NCAA Tournament, two earned national seeds, as Penn State was the No. 3 seed in the Palo Alto Regional after winning the Big Ten Tournament title and Big Ten Champion Ohio State was seeded No. 4 in the Columbia (S.C.) Regional. All five Big Ten schools played host to first-round tournament matches. The Buckeyes were upset in the first round, while Northwestern, Rutgers and Wisconsin reached the second round before each was eliminated by a goal or less (Northwestern in overtime, Rutgers on penalty kicks). Penn State carried the Big Ten banner all the way to the quarterfinals, including a third-round win at West Virginia, before seeing its season end in the Elite Eight at eventual national champion Stanford. The full 2017 NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament bracket and round-by-round recaps can be found here.

Big Ten Champions: Ohio State earned the outright Big Ten title in 2017, finishing with 27 points (9-2-0 record) to wind up five points clear of conference runners-up Minnesota and Northwestern in the Big Ten standings. It was the second Big Ten championship for the Buckeyes and their first outright crown after they earned a share of the 2010 title. For more on this year’s conference race, click here.

Big Ten Tournament: Ohio State was the top seed for this year’s Big Ten Tournament, which introduced a new format for the semifinals and championship round, which were played at a neutral site at Grand Park in Westfield, Indiana. The tournament itself proved to be wildly exciting, with six of the seven matches decided by a goal or less, including four that went to double overtime and one that was decided on penalty kicks. Second-seeded Northwestern advanced to its first Big Ten Tournament championship match since 1997, where it faced No. 5 seed Penn State, which toppled Ohio State in the semifinals. The Big Ten final was delayed by weather midway through the first half and eventually moved indoors, with the Nittany Lions rallying for two goals in the final 20 minutes to secure their seventh Big Ten Tournament title. All of the information on this year’s tournament can be found on the Big Ten Tournament Central page located here.

Final Rankings: Five Big Ten schools were ranked or receiving votes in the final 2017 United Soccer Coaches poll (formerly National Soccer Coaches Association of America). Penn State led the way at No. 5, with No. 22 Rutgers and No. 23 Ohio State also appearing among the Top 25. In addition, Northwestern and Wisconsin each received votes in the final coaches’ poll of the year, which can be found by clicking here.

Year-End Award Recipients: The Big Ten coaches voted for their 2017 All-Big Ten teams and individual award recipients, with students from three conference schools among this year’s individual honorees. Big Ten Champion Ohio State had three individual awards recipients, with Lori Walker-Hock named Big Ten Coach of the Year, Nikki Walts earning the Big Ten Midfielder of the Year award and Morgan Wolcott being chosen the Big Ten Defender of the Year. Rutgers’ Casey Murphy took home the Goalkeeper of the Year honor, while her Scarlet Knights teammate Amirah Ali was selected as the Freshman of the Year and Purdue’s Maddy Williams was the Big Ten Forward of the Year. The full list of this year’s All-Big Ten teams and individual honorees can be found by clicking here.

All-Americans/All-Region: Once again this year, four Big Ten students earned United Soccer Coaches All-America honors, led by Rutgers’ Casey Murphy, who collected her second All-America honor as a first-team selection this year. Three other Big Ten students collected their first career All-America honors, with Ohio State’s Nikki Walts and Morgan Wolcott, and Purdue’s Maddy Williams all appearing on the United Soccer Coaches All-America Second Team. In addition, 24 Big Ten students from nine conference schools (including the four aforementioned All-Americans) earned United Soccer Coaches All-Midwest Region accolades. A complete rundown on this year’s Big Ten All-Americans and All-Region performers is provided here.

Regional Coaching Staff of the Year: Ohio State head coach Lori Walker-Hock and her assistants Brian Jankowski and Michael Needham were selected as the United Soccer Coaches Midwest Region Staff of the Year after leading the Buckeyes to a 15-5-1 record, the school’s second Big Ten Championship (and first outright crown after a 2010 co-championship), and a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the 12th time in program history. For more on this honor, click here.

Academic All-Americans: Penn State junior midfielder Emily Ogle was a second-team Academic All-America selection in 2016, according to the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Ogle is the ninth different Nittany Lion women’s soccer student to receive Academic All-America recognition, with those nine earning a combined 14 Academic All-America citations. More information on Ogle’s achievement as an Academic All-American is located here.

United Soccer Coaches Scholar All-Americans: Seven Big Ten students collected United Soccer Coaches Scholar All-America plaudits this year. Northwestern’s Lauren Clem, Kayla Sharples and Marisa Viggiano all received recognition, as did the Ohio State trio of Sammy Edwards, Nikki Walts and Morgan Wolcott, with Rutgers’ Casey Murphy rounding out this year’s Big Ten contingent. The complete release on these academic achievers can be found by clicking here.

Academic All-Big Ten Honorees: A combined 206 women’s soccer students from all 14 Big Ten programs were chosen to receive Academic All-Big Ten honors following the 2017 season. The group includes Indiana’s Allison Jorden, who was one of at least 21 honorees across all fall sports to maintain a perfect 4.0 cumulative GPA. To be eligible for Academic All-Big Ten consideration, students must be on a varsity team, as verified by being on the official squad list as of Nov. 1 for fall sports, who have been enrolled fulltime at the institution for a minimum of 12 months and carry a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. A complete list of the 2017 Fall Academic All-Big Ten selections is available here.