On Friday, the Big Ten announced conference honors for women’s soccer and two players from Rutgers picked up major awards.
Star Casey Murphy, back this season after a year away with the U.S. National Team, was named the Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year, the second time in her career that she has won. From the press release issued by the conference:
Murphy earns her second Goalkeeper of the Year honor in three seasons, returning to Big Ten action this year after sitting out the 2016 campaign while representing the United States at the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup. Murphy has been the anchor for Rutgers’ defense this season, which leads the Big Ten and ranks second in nation with a 0.26 GAA, .778 shutout percentage and .921 save percentage. Murphy herself leads the nation with 14 shutouts, while ranking is third in the NCAA in goals-against average (0.26) and save percentage (.921). She was a five-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week selection this season and has received that award 10 times during her career, which has seen her rise to third in Big Ten history with 43 shutouts. Murphy is a two-time All-Big Ten honoree and garnered Academic All-Big Ten plaudits in 2015.
Murphy’s teammate, Amirah Ali, last year’s high school national player of the year, was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
From the press release issued by the conference:
Ali follows teammate Nicole Whitley as the second Scarlet Knights’ freshman in as many seasons to earn the Big Ten Freshman of the Year award. She has five goals and four assists this season, and during conference play, she ranked ninth in Big Ten with three assists and 0.27 assists per game. She also shared Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors on Sept. 5.
In addition to Murphy and Ali winning honors, the All-Big Ten teams were announced as well. Murphy was the lone member of Rutgers to be named to the First Team. Sophomore defender Chantelle Swaby was named to the Second Team and Ali was named to the Third Team. Ali was also the lone newcomer to make the All-Freshman Team for Rutgers. Senior Christy Monroy received the Sportsmanship Award as well. For the entire Big Ten Honors list, click here.
"We are extremely happy and proud of our players who were recognized," said head coach Mike O'Neill. "To have two players achieve player of the year honors speaks volumes to the talent we have at Rutgers. We believe that the Big Ten is one of the top soccer conferences in the country. As part of the Rutgers culture, when one achieves, we all achieve."
One notable snub, in my opinion, was the exclusion of senior forward Colby Ciarrocca, who is the leading scorer on Rutgers with six goals, as well as having the most points with 15. Ali is second with five goals and 14 points. Ciarrocca has struggled to find the net of late and had just two goals in conference play, but it’s still surprising to find her not included. It doesn’t change the fact she has had a tremendous career on the banks and is likely due to have a great finish to her time at Rutgers in the postseason ahead.
Rutgers begins their quest for a first ever Big Ten Tournament Title this Sunday at home against rival Penn State at 1 p.m in the quarterfinal round. The Scarlet Knights have advanced to the conference championship game each of the previous three seasons they have been in the Big Ten, but have lost each time. After winning three straight games to end the regular season, including a victory over conference champion Ohio State, head coach Mike O’Neill’s team appears to be peaking at the right time. Let’s hope this team is primed for a long postseason run in both the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments.