DECATUR, Ala.-- The Cougars may not have come back with the hardware they were looking for, but two Azusa Pacific women’s soccer players didn’t go home empty handed after the team’s 2-0 loss to Lee (Tenn.) in the NAIA Semifinals.
Sophomore Danielle Ross was named the tournament’s Outstanding Defensive Player as the Cougars posted three straight shutouts to open postseason play. In the quarterfinals against Mobile (Ala.) Ross and the entire defense was superb. The Cougars held a Mobile team that had averaged 2.74 goals per game going into the quarterfinals without a shot in a 4-0 win. In four games Azusa Pacific allowed just two goals (both in the semis). Ross becomes just the third person in program history to be named Outstanding Defensive Player.
"She did what she's done all season," said Head Coach Jason Surrell. "All year long she's been our most consistent player. She's had to deal with different players coming in and out because of injuries. Her play in the tournament wasn't anything beyond what she did during the year. I'd say she's great all of the time."
On the other side of the field Natalie Sun shined en route to being named to the NAIA All-Tournament Team. The junior forward registered three goals in the tournament and dished out one assist. Sun scored twice in the first half against Mobile, and found Heidi Witschi for a goal as the Cougars advanced to the semifinals for the 10th time in program history.
"Natalie was one of the driving forces offensively for us," said Surrell. "To score three goals in a few games is pretty impressive. She's dangerous and creates problems for other teams."
Sun's honor marks the 22nd time a Cougar has made the NAIA All-Tournament Team in Surrell's 14-years at the helm.
NAIA All-Tournament Team
Maggie Dupes GK Baker (Kan.)
Erica Wessels D Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.)
Danielle Ross D Azusa Pacific (Calif.)
Caroline Scales D Lee (Tenn.)
Leah Fortune MF Lee (Tenn.)
Mia Person MF Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)
Jakie Henderson MF Concordia (Ore.)
Laura Thacker MF Lee (Tenn.)
Natalie Sun F Azusa Pacific (Calif.)
Katie Pedlowe F Point Loma Nazarene
Ashley Aragona F Lee (Tenn.)
Jamie Achten F Lee (Tenn.)
Outstanding Offensive Player
Leah Fortune, Lee (Tenn.)
Outstanding Defensive Player
Danielle Ross, Azusa Pacific (Calif.)
Most Valuable Player
Ashley Aragona, Lee (Tenn.)