LOGAN — With five players named to the all-Western Athletic Conference first team, and Utah State sweeping the individual honors, the USU women's soccer team made history with seven total players named to the all-WAC team, as it was announced Wednesday night.
The Aggies swept all four major awards with senior forward Shantel Flanary earning her second WAC Offensive Player of the Year honor and junior defender Natalie Norris winning her second-straight WAC Defensive Player of the Year award. Defender Taryn Rose was named Freshman of the Year, while Heather Cairns earned her second WAC Coach of the Year accolade. This is the first time since the WAC added the Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year awards in 2005, that all four awards went to the same school.
"We have had a really special season so far," Cairns said. "I think it is a great honor that the coaches in the conference recognize that. All of our players that were honored are an integral part of our team's success this season, as well as a major part in making our team one cohesive unit."
Norris became the first defender in the WAC to earn back-to-back defensive player of the year honors since San Jose State's Rachelle Jagdeo in 2005-06. Norris also earned her second-straight first-team honor after being the anchor of the USU defense that allowed only three goals in conference play.
Flanary became the first Aggie soccer player to earn WAC Offensive Player twice in her career (2008). The senior ended conference play with two goals and three assists for seven points.
Flanary and senior midfielder Chandra Salmon-Christensen become the second and third Aggies, respectively, to earn all-WAC honors four-straight year, joining Lindsey Smart (2006-09) in exclusive company.
Jayme Gordy (1997-2000) did it in the Big West Conference.
Flanary has earned first-team honors the last three seasons, while Salmon-Christensen was named to the first team her first three seasons and earned second-team honors this year.
Rose is the third USU player to earn WAC Freshman of the Year honors following Smart in 2006 and Flanary in 2008. She was also named to the all-WAC second team along with Salmon-Christensen. Rose has played in every match this season and was essential in USU allowing only 13 goals so far this season.
Sophomore midfielder Kendra Pemberton, senior defender Summer Tillotson and senior goalkeeper Molli Merrill join Flanary and Norris on the first team. Pemberton earned her first all-WAC appearance, leading the conference in points in WAC matches with four goals and four assists for 12 points.
Tillotson was honored by the WAC for the second-straight season after being named to the second team in 2010. The senior has started every match this season and has added five assists this year.
Merrill is the first Utah State goalkeeper to earn first-team honors as a keeper with Ali Griffin earning second-team honors in 2008. Merrill ended WAC play with an amazing 0.28 GAA, allowing only two goals in seven league matches. She had five conference shutouts and has nine total shutouts so far this season.
This is the fourth-straight season that the Aggies have placed at least three players on the first team. Since joining the WAC in 2005, Utah State has earned 32 all-WAC honors. The seven honored matches the program high in 2008.
USU captured its second-straight regular season title and now hold the top seed in this week's WAC Tournament. The top-seeded Aggies will begin play at the WAC Tournament in the semifinals on Friday, Nov. 4 at 1 p.m. (MT). USU will take on the winner of Thursday's quarterfinal match between No. 4 San Jose State and No. 5 Idaho.
Soccer fans can watch every second of the WAC Tournament through www.wacsports.com. The cost of the WAC Soccer Tournament All-Access Pass is $10.95.
First Team all-WAC
Callie Hancock, F, Jr., Fresno State; Chelsea Small, F, Jr., Idaho; Shantel Flanary, F, Sr., Utah State; Molly Nizzoli, MF, Sr., Fresno State; Jill Flockhart, MF, Jr., Idaho; Kendra Pemberton, MF, So., Utah State; Lauren Lindstom, D, So., Fresno State; Kendall VanDine, D, Sr., Fresno State; Summer Tillotson, D, Sr., Utah State; Natalie Norris, D, So., Utah State; Molli Merrill, GK, Sr., Utah State.
Second Team all-WACComment on this story
Skye Shimabukuro, F, Hawaii; Yolanda McMillion, F, Jr., New Mexico State; Kelsey Lord, F, Jr., San Jose State; Vanessa Gonzalez, MF, Jr., Fresno State; Laura Dodd, MF, Sr., Fresno State; Lauren Sanchez, MF, Sr., San Jose State; Chandra Salmon-Christensen, D, Sr., Utah State; Brittani Lum, D, Sr., Hawaii; Jessica Ingram, D, Sr., San Jose State; Taryn Rose, D, Fr., Utah State; Meghan Maiwald, GK, Sr., San Jose State.
Offensive Player of the Year: Shantel Flanary, F, Sr., Utah State
Defensive Player of the Year: Natalie Norris, D, Jr., Utah State
Freshman of the Year: Taryn Rose, D, Fr., Utah State
Coach of the Year: Heather Cairns, Utah State
Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University.