Courtesy: Spencer Farrin (Moscow, Idaho)
Vandal soccer qualified for a third-consecutive WAC Tournament in 2012.
Soccer hands out awards
Courtesy: Idaho Athletic Media Relations
          Release: 12/10/2012
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MOSCOW, Idaho – University of Idaho women’s soccer dished out its team awards at the joint year-end banquet with Vandal volleyball on Sunday.

The Vandal women celebrated the most successful senior class in school history and its third-consecutive Western Athletic Conference Tournament bid at the event, in addition to the team’s individual awards.

For the fourth-consecutive season, senior forward Chelsea Small earned the team’s Golden Boot Award as the top scorer, while senior goalkeeper Liz Boyden claimed the Golden Shinnie Award as the team’s top defensive player. Senior goalkeeper Caroline Towles was voted Most Inspirational Player by her teammates, while senior defender Lauren Layton earned the Kathy Clark Scholar-Athlete honor.

The Idaho Players’ Player of the Year award was a split between Boyden and sophomore midfielder Katie Baran. The award is based upon a team vote after every match during the season.

Small led Idaho with eight goals and 17 points in 2012. She finished her career as Idaho’s all-time scoring leader at 39 goals, 91 points, 16 game-winners and 404 shots. She also holds Idaho single-season records for goals (13), points (30), game-winners (8) and shots (121) from the 2010 season. She’s a four-time First-Team All-WAC honoree and a three-time National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-West Region honoree.

Boyden graduated this season with possession of nearly every career goalkeeping record at Idaho. She set single-season school records in 2012 for saves (95) and goalkeeper minutes (1,922). Her 77 games played, 76 starts, 6,994 minutes, 368 saves, 15 shutouts and 29 career wins are all Idaho school records. She’s also tied as Idaho’s single-season record holder in shutouts with six in 2010. Boyden is also the only goalkeeper in Idaho history to assist a goal.

Towles made three appearances in goal this season, but head coach Peter Showler said she is “a leader and an inspiration to her teammates, whether it was on the pitch, on the sideline, in the locker room or away from the field.” She finished her career with 16 appearances, 13 starts, 72 saves, one shutout and five wins.

Layton made 77 career appearances on the Vandal back line and finished her career ranked third in Idaho history with 15 assists. She is a three-time WAC All-Academic honoree, a 2010 ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District honoree and last week was awarded a University of Idaho Alumni Award for Excellence. In addition to her soccer exploits, she took a summer service break trip to Africa in 2011 and an internship again in Africa last summer.

Baran had a breakout season in the midfield in her second season as a Vandal. She led the WAC in assists during the regular season (8) and during conference play (6). She added four goals during the year and was second on the team with 16 points during the season. Baran registered a point in eight of Idaho’s final nine games during the season, including each of the last four.

Regarding Idaho’s 10 seniors in the class of 2012, Showler talked about raising the program standard and giving current and future Vandals a high aiming point.

Idaho’s seniors, Boyden, Small, Layton, Towles, Jill Flockhart, Erica Hart, Christine Leathem, Amber Pimley, Megan Lopez and Cassandra San, left Idaho with 37 wins – the most by any four-year group in program history. They took Idaho to three WAC Tournaments – the first three in program history. As a group, they accounted for 65 goals, 62 assists and 192 points. They combined for 18 school records, 26 WAC All-Academic awards, eight All-WAC honors, four NSCAA All-West Region honors, six WAC Player of the Week honors, four Academic All-District honors and two Academic All-America honors.

“They set all sorts of standards for this program,” Showler said. “When we recruited those girls, what we really talked about was creating a legacy and they certainly did that.”

While the departure of such a successful group certainly creates a void, Idaho’s returners are eager to fill those spots. Idaho’s 2012 underclassmen combined for 94 starts and include seven players who appeared in 19 or more games this season. Six underclassmen scored at least one goal this season.

Showler said the previous years’ successes have helped raise the level of play in the program. In addition to this year’s returners stepping up into greater roles, he expects the 2013 freshman class to have a similar impact.

“What’s been key with this process is the success allows us to attract stronger players,” Showler said. “We’ve been good at bringing in talented players to complement what we already have. I’ve always had the philosophy that if you’re good enough, you’ll play, whether you’re a senior or a freshman. We’ve had a lot of girls who came in, made their case and played well.”
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