NACOGDOCHES, Texas – The Stephen F. Austin women’s soccer team was well represented with the release of the 2015 Southland Conference postseason awards on Tuesday morning, as Amanda Doyle was named Player of the Year, Wally Crittenden was tabbed Coach of the Year and six Ladyjacks were placed on the all-conference teams.
SFA was represented by junior defender Brooke Dunnigan and junior midfielder Amanda Doyle on the All-SLC First Team while sophomore forward Hanna Barker, senior defender Chantal Curry, senior midfielder Rachel Owens and redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Lillie Ehlert were placed on the All-SLC Second Team. The Ladyjacks’ six selections between the two squads were the most in the league by three.
Junior defender Kelly Ann Craig and sophomore midfielder Madison Hall were also recognized with Tuesday’s all-conference release on the honorable mention list.
“This league has some really good players and coaches,” said Crittenden. “I am very happy that our players are being recognized for the accomplishments they have had this season. They were challenged from day one, did not waiver, remained focused and connected to each other and our goals.
“Every player on this team made an impact on this year’s outcomes and without the entire roster committing to improvement and to helping make their teammates better every day, the team would not have been in a position to do what we were able to do. So while eight players have the privilege of being recognized by our competitive peers in the league, there is no doubt they will credit their teammates for helping put them in a position to be successful.”
Doyle, a native of Carrollton, Texas (Hebron HS), becomes the fifth player in the last six years from SFA to be named SLC Player of the Year. The honor comes on the heels of a breakout year for the junior, who ended the year ranked third in the SLC in goals (7), fourth in points (17) and game-winning goals (2), and fifth in assists (3) during league play.
Doyle either scored or assisted on SFA’s first seven goals of the conference season and led the Ladyjacks to their fifth straight SLC regular season title. She netted game-winners in big victories over Houston Baptist and Southeastern Louisiana. The team captain also scored twice against the Huskies and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in back-to-back games and was named the SLC Offensive Player of the Week on Sept. 29 as a result.
The first team nod for Doyle is the first of her career. She was a second team pick last season.
For the third consecutive season in just his third year as SFA head coach, Crittenden was once again voted as the top coach in the conference. With the Coach of the Year honor, he becomes the first coach in SLC history to win the award in three straight seasons.
Crittenden guided his team to an 8-1-2 conference record in 2015 en route to an unprecedented fifth straight SLC crown. In his three years at the helm in Nacogdoches, he has compiled an impressive 29-2-3 mark in league play.
For the second year in a row, Dunnigan earned a spot on the first team after another solid season at center back for the Ladyjacks. A product of Round Rock, Texas (Vista Ridge HS), Dunnigan anchored an SFA back line that ranked first in the SLC in goals allowed (5), goals against average (0.43) and shutouts (6) in 11 league matches. She has started all 18 games this season and is the only Ladyjack to have played all 1,665 minutes.
SFA’s four second-teamers all cracked the list for the first time in their careers. Hanna Barker found her way onto the squad after scoring three goals and adding four assists during SLC play. She finished the year ranked second in the league in assists and shots (48) and was fourth with two game-winning goals. The 2014 SLC Freshman of the Year, Barker is currently second on the team in total points (11) in 18 games – all starts – during her sophomore campaign.
Curry, a left back from Austin, Texas (McNeil HS), was named to the second team not only for her tremendous defense, but also for her presence in the SFA attack. She started all 17 games she played in, taking 11 shots and putting six on goal. A 2015 team captain, Curry was tabbed honorable mention all-conference in each of the last two seasons.
Owens also secured her place on the second team after being named honorable mention in 2013 and 2014. Her calm demeanor at holding mid and versatility to play multiple positions on the field warranted her a spot as one of the SLC’s top six midfielders. She scored two goals and had one assist in league play, netting a game-winner in a 1-0 affair at Lamar and converting a penalty kick late against McNeese to force overtime. The team captain is from Houston, Texas (Memorial HS).
Ehlert rounds out SFA’s all-conference honorees after a big season between the posts. In her first season as an everyday starter, Ehlert quickly ascended to the top of the league’s goalkeeping ranks. The Pflugerville, Texas product ended the SLC slate ranked first in goals against average (0.46) and save percentage (.900) to help the SFA defense become one of the league’s elite.
To go along with six all-conference selections, Craig and Hall were SFA’s seventh and eighth players honored on Tuesday. Craig posted two assists in 18 starts at right back for the Ladyjacks while Hall scored three goals and chipped in two helpers in 18 games – 16 starts – in her first season at SFA. Their honorable mention recognition is the first for both players.
“Something else to be excited about is that we return six of the eight players named to these teams, and other players that just missed out on recognition this year will continue to grow, mature, and be more consistent in future seasons,” said Crittenden. “The future is bright for our program and this season will be one that is referenced in future years as the example of resiliency, commitment, perspective, and preparation.
“With all the success this program has had over the last 10 years, this year will likely be the most important year in defining what we are capable of achieving regardless of how we start a season. That is a powerful message and is one that will empower future teams. This has been such a special season and one I am proud to have been a part of.”
Voting for the 2015 all-conference teams and awards was conducted by the league’s 12 head coaches and each program’s respective sports information director. Both the first and second teams were comprised of three forwards, defenders and midfielders, one goalkeeper and one at-large position. The major awards were voted on separately.
SFA will next be in action on Friday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. in the semifinals of the 2015 Southland Conference Tournament held in Conway, Arkansas. The top seeded Ladyjacks will play the winner of the number four/five matchup between Southeastern Louisiana and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The championship match is set for Sunday at 1:05 p.m.