A big year for Linfield women’s soccer just got bigger with Thursday’s announcement that two Wildcats have been honored as the 2012 Northwest Conference Women's Soccer Players of the Year: Emily Fellows and Emily Allison. It marked the first time in program history the Wildcats hauled in more than one major award following a vote of the league’s coaches.
In all, five Linfield players were named to the first team, and two others received honorable mention consideration. The Wildcats confirmed that they are one of the NWC’s top teams, finishing second in the team standings for the second straight year, setting numerous program records – including 16 wins – and achieving a first-ever Top 25 ranking before just missing out on an at-large invitation to the NCAA playoffs.
Fellows repeated as the NWC Offensive Player of the Year, an honor she received at the end of her freshman campaign back in 2010. She was a unanimous first team pick. This year, Fellows again led the league in scoring, tallying 18 goals, and also added six assists while serving as one of four team captains. Linfield’s all-time leading scorer raised her career total to 51, which is nearly twice as many as the No. 2 career leader, at an average of 1.11 goals per match.
On the opposite end of the field, Allison – the NWC Defensive Player of the Year – anchored a Linfield back line that set single-season program records for most shutouts (11) and fewest goals allowed (10). The ‘Cats gave up the fewest goals in the league this season, and were tied for first in the number of shutouts. Allison started 18 matches this year, playing 1,603 of 1,841 possible minutes. The senior captain was a second team all-NWC honoree last season.
Lindzee Baker, Anna Sours and Emma Vukic also represented the ‘Cats on the all-Northwest Conference first team.
Baker started all 20 matches in the midfield. Easily the greatest individual highlight of the season was her game-winning goal in the closing minutes of regulation that lifted Linfield to a 2-1 victory over conference champion Puget Sound. It was a career first for Baker, and helped the Wildcats avenge their only loss up to that point and defeat the Loggers for just the third time in program history. Baker was an all-NWC honorable mention selection last season.
A four-year starting midfielder and team captain, Sours made her third appearance on the all-conference squad, nabbing first honors for the second straight season. This year, the senior tallied just one goal and two assists, but was unquestionably a huge force driving the Wildcats’ successes on the offensive end of the pitch.
Vukic had an impressive freshman campaign, recording six goals and six assists to finish with Linfield’s second-highest point total (18). She scored three game winners, including both goals in the Wildcats’ 2-1 home win over Lewis & Clark. Vukic’s knack for finding the back of the net undoubtedly relieved some of the pressure to score and defensive attention put on Fellows. In fact, the two meshed extremely well, connecting on nine goals this year.
Julia Vaughan and Stephanie Socotch were honorable mentions on the all-conference team. Vaughan, another captain on this year’s squad, bounced back from an injury-riddled sophomore season to start 19 matches for the Wildcats in 2012, scoring three goals. Socotch, who was also an honorable mention a season ago, started all 20 matches and scored four times this year, including both goals in Linfield’s season-ending road victory over Whitworth.
In the hunt for a program-first Northwest Conference championship from start to finish, the 'Cats were passed up by Puget Sound on the final day of the regular season. Linfield finished with a 12-2-2 record in league play (16-2-2 overall), including one win each over playoff-bound teams UPS and then-23rd ranked Cal Lutheran, with 38 total points. The Loggers captured their 11th straight conference title with a 13-2-1 NWC record (14-4-1 overall) and 40 points.