Women's Soccer Season in Review

Dec. 23, 2016


The Big Ten recently capped off another successful women's soccer season by sending eight schools to the NCAA Tournament. Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers and Wisconsin all earned postseason berths, matching the Big Ten record for the most schools reaching the NCAA Tournament in a single season (a mark first set in 2013).

NCAA Tournament: Eight Big Ten women's soccer programs competed in this year's NCAA Tournament, with Minnesota receiving the No. 4 seed in the Palo Alto Regional after claiming a share of the Big Ten Championship and winning the Big Ten Tournament title. All eight Big Ten schools also earned the opportunity to play host to first-round tournament matches. Michigan and Minnesota were ousted in the first round on penalty kicks, while Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers and Wisconsin were eliminated in the second round, with Ohio State and Wisconsin falling in double overtime. Northwestern advanced to the third round (Sweet 16) for the first time since 1998, and the second time in program history, before its season came to a close with a 1-0 loss at Duke. The complete 2016 NCAA Women's Soccer Tournament bracket can be found here.

Big Ten Champions: For the first time since the Big Ten began women's soccer competition in 1994, three schools clinched a share of the Big Ten Championship, as Minnesota, Northwestern and Penn State all staked their claim to the crown after finishing with identical 7-1-3 conference records and 24 total points. Minnesota earned its fourth Big Ten title and first since 2008, while Northwestern collected the first Big Ten Championship in program history, and Penn State won a piece of its 18th conference championship, all within the past 19 seasons. For more on this year's exciting conference race, click here.

Big Ten Tournament: By virtue of conference tiebreakers, Minnesota earned the top seed for this year's Big Ten Tournament and went on to earn its second Big Ten postseason title (first since 1995) with a 2-1 win over No. 7 seed Rutgers on Nov. 6 at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium in St. Paul, Minn. Emily Heslin's dramatic goal with 5:22 remaining lifted the Golden Gophers to victory, with the score coming just 47 seconds after Rutgers had tied the match on Chantelle Swaby's goal. For a full rundown on this year's Big Ten Tournament, head to the Big Ten Tournament Central page by clicking here.

Final Rankings: Six Big Ten schools were ranked or receiving votes in the final National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) poll for 2016. Minnesota was the highest-ranked conference school at No. 15, with Northwestern (No. 18) and Rutgers (No. 25) also appearing in the NSCAA Top 25. In addition, Nebraska, Ohio State and Penn State 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 selected its 2016 All-Big Ten teams and individual award recipients, with four schools represented among this year's individual honorees. Big Ten tri-champion Minnesota had three individuals chosen for conference awards, with Stefanie Golan named Big Ten Coach of the Year, Simone Kolander earning the Big Ten Forward of the Year award and Rashida Beal chosen as the Big Ten Defender of the Year. Northwestern's Lauren Clem took home the Goalkeeper of the Year honor, while Rutgers' Nicole Whitley was selected as the Freshman of the Year and Wisconsin's Rose Lavelle was the Big Ten Midfielder of the Year. A complete list of this year's All-Big Ten teams and individual honorees can be found by clicking here.

All-Americans: Four Big Ten students earned NSCAA All-America honors this season, led by Wisconsin's Rose Lavelle, who received her third All-America citation with a place on the 2016 second team. Three other Big Ten students collected their first career All-America honors, with Minnesota's Rashida Beal appearing on the NSCAA All-America Second Team, while Nebraska's Jaycie Johnson and Northwestern's Lauren Clem both earned third-team All-America recognition. More information on this year's Big Ten All-Americans is listed here.

Regional Coaching Staff of the Year: Northwestern head coach Michael Moynihan and his assistants David Nikolic and Shannon Neely were selected as the NSCAA Great Lakes Region Staff of the Year after leading the Wildcats to a 16-3-4 record, a share of the Big Ten Championship and the program's second appearance in the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 (first since 1998). For more on this honor, click here.

Academic All-Americans: Four Big Ten women's soccer standouts received Academic All-America honors in 2016, according to the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Minnesota's Rashida Beal, Nebraska's Caroline Flynn and Northwestern's Nandi Mehta all earned first-team Academic All-America plaudits, while Ohio State's Lindsay Agnew was a second-team Academic All-America honoree. The full release on this year's Big Ten Academic All-Americans is located here.

NSCAA Scholar All-Americans: Three Big Ten students collected NSCAA Scholar All-America citations this year. Minnesota's Rashida Beal and Northwestern's Lauren Clem were first-team selections, while Minnesota's Josee Stiever was a second-team choice. The complete release on these academic achievers can be found by clicking here.

NCAA Silver Anniversary Award: Former Wisconsin women's soccer standout Heather Taggart has been selected to receive the 2017 NCAA Silver Anniversary Award during the NCAA Honors Celebration on Jan. 18 in Nashville, Tenn. Taggart, a two-time All-America goalkeeper for the Badgers, was one of three former students from Big Ten schools chosen for this year's Silver Anniversary Award. For more information on this prestigious honor, click here.