AZUSA, Calif.-- After clinching the program’s first Pacific West Conference championship, the Azusa Pacific women’s soccer team had seven players honored on the All-PacWest team, the conference office announced Thursday. The Cougars had four players named to the All-PacWest first team, while head coach Jason Surrell was named the conference’s Coach of the Year.
Mayra Almazan received first-team recognition, and was named the PacWest Newcomer of the year, while keeper Sarah Klinkenberg took home second team honors as the Freshman of the Year. On the backline senior defenders Allie Stone (first-team), Danielle Ross (first-team), and Natalie Nick (third team) all received all-league honors, while midfielders Allyn Brown (first-team), and Haley Williamson (second-team) rounded out the Cougars’ postseason awards.
“The entire season it was a total team effort, and I’m glad to see these players recognized for the work they put in. We had a lot of new players step right in and contribute, and I’m happy we were able to come together so quickly,” said Surrell, who won his eighth conference Coach of the Year honor.
Almazan finished with 19 points, eight goals and three assists, ranking third in the PacWest in points per game (1.36). The sophomore transfer from UC Santa Barbara, also added four game-winning goals, third most in the league.
“I think the last half of the season she really came on strong for us. She had a lot of game-winning goals down the stretch. She’s a dangerous player, and she became a really solid weapon,” said Surrell.
On the other end of the field Azusa Pacific boasted the PacWest’s top defense, tying a program-record with nine consecutive shutouts, and finishing the regular season with a 0.39 goals-against-average--just a fraction off of the program-record of 0.36 set in 2011. Klinkenberg tabbed the conference’s No. 2 goals-against average (0.50), and finished third in save percentage with a .864 mark.
The Cougars’ backline of Ross, Stone, and Nick tabbed the most shutouts in the conference (nine), holding PacWest opponents scoreless over the course of 918 consecutive minutes. Nick recorded a team-high four assists, while center backs Ross and Stone anchored a defense that helped the Cougars post a 21-match conference unbeaten streak over the past two years.
“There’s no question that Stone is the organizer and vocal leader back there. It’s like having another coach on the field. She’s very deserving of the honor. Ross is as dominant of an athlete as we’ve had at Azusa Pacific. She can win balls in the air and shut down some of the best players in the conference. And then we have Nick. She really had a solid senior year. After our win at Notre Dame de Namur their coach said the she was our best player. I think all three of them really had strong senior seasons,” said Surrell.
“Klinkenberg was big time for us this year. When you have a great defense you aren’t always called upon. But in the big moments she came up big for us. We wondered how this year would go with no returning keepers, and a couple games in we could tell she knew what she was doing. We felt confident with her back there.”
Brown, a sophomore transfer from Pepperdine, was instrumental in Azusa Pacific’s 32-to-6 scoring advantage during the regular season, directing the team’s transition offense and defense. Williamson, a freshman from Colorado Springs, Colo., scored three times with two game-winners, and added one assists in her first collegiate season.
“I think they both served similar roles for us. They were great at tackling, disrupting play, and certainly caused trouble from a defense standpoint. Haley connects a lot of her passes, and keeps possession, and isn’t flashy with what she does, but she’s real consistent. Allyn is that key figure for us in the middle. She can make a few defenders miss and she distributes really well. I think together they were solid, and individually both of them did a great job.”
The Cougars’ seven All-PacWest recipients ranked second in the conference behind California Baptist’s nine nods. The Lancers and Cougars each had a league-high four first-team honorees, and CBU’s Kelly Jenks was named the Player of the Year.
For the complete All-PacWest team Click Here (PDF).