Senior defender Natalie Norris was one of 60 NCAA® men’s and women’s soccer student-athletes who excel both on and off the field who were selected as candidates Tuesday for the 2012 Senior CLASS Award in collegiate soccer.

The Aggie senior is one of only two players from the Beehive State to be a candidate for the award, along with BYU’s Lindsi Lisonbee Cutshall. She is also the only player from the Western Athletic Conference to be honored.

Norris is one in a line of USU greats to be nominated for this award, including Lindsey Smart in 2009 and Chandra Salmon-Christensen in 2011.

The defender has started over 70 matches in her four seasons at Utah State and is the anchor of the backline that has allowed only six goals in nine matches this season. Offensively, Norris has one goal for two points so far this year.

To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition.

An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.

The 2012 candidate class includes 14 National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-Americans from last season. More than half of the 60 have maintained a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or better. Seven of the candidates were recognized by the College Sports Information Directors of America as 2011 Capital One Academic All-Americans. Five student-athletes participated in the 2011 NCAA Men’s or Women’s College Cups®.

The Senior CLASS Award winners will be announced during the 2012 NCAA Men’s and Women’s College Cup championships. The Women’s College Cup will take place November 30 and December 2 in San Diego, while the Men’s College Cup will take place December 7 and 9 in Hoover, Ala.

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Each of the 30 candidate classes will be narrowed to 10 finalists midway through the regular season, and those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will select one male candidate and one female candidate who best exemplify excellence in the four Cs of community, classroom, character and competition.

Utah State has a pair of home matches this week, looking for their first-ever win against No. 12 BYU on Thursday, Sept. 20 at 4 p.m. The Aggies will end the week against Wyoming on Sunday, Sept. 23 at 1 p.m. The Cougars are 8-1-0 this season, while the Cowgirls hold a solid 7-3-0 mark.

As always, admission to all Utah State soccer matches is free.

Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.