ST. LOUIS – After yet another exciting season of Valley women’s soccer, the conference recognizes its brightest stars. It seems only fitting that Rachel Tejada has been named Player of the Year yet again. She becomes the first athlete in Valley history to be named Women’s Soccer Player of the Year in all four seasons of eligibility. Tallying 13 goals and 36 total points, Tejada was the leading scorer in the Valley this season and has broken several records this season, including the Valley marks for career goals (67) and career assists (41). She helped lead the Redbirds to the No. 1 seed and will hope to provide firepower this weekend as the Redbirds look to win their fourth MVC Championship in a row.
Defensively, nobody was as tough to battle as Taylor Brand. The Evansville back took home Defensive Player of the Year honors, placing an exclamation point on an outstanding senior season. Brand anchored a defense that shut out its opponents on an astounding twelve different occasions in the 2014 season. The Aces surrendered only three goals against MVC foes in large part due to Brand’s efforts.
Brand’s teammate, junior net minder Simone Busby, is the MVC Goalkeeper of the Year. The fourth winner of this award since its inception in 2011, Busby was an essential cog in the Aces’ machine that finished second in the MVC and recorded three shutouts against Valley competition. Busby surrendered only 10 goals in 18 games for a goals-against average of just 0.58.
Rachel Tejada is joined by teammate Kelli Zickert on the list of award winners. Zickert took home the title of MVC Freshman of the Year. Although she started only six games this year, Zickert scored five goals and added three assists for a total of 13 points. She tied for third in goals scored for a high-powered Redbirds attack that netted 17 more tallies than the next closest Valley team.
While the players make it happen on the field, coaching staffs must be recognized. The Illinois State Redbirds garnered Coaching Staff of the Year honors. A tough non-conference season saw the Redbirds face foes from the Big 12, ACC, and SEC, giving Illinois State great preparation for the MVC season. Coach Roff led Illinois State to a perfect 6-0 mark against conference opponents for the second year in a row, another regular season championship, and the No. 1 Seed entering the MVC Tournament.
Illinois State and Loyola are the co-winners of this year’s MVC Fair Play award. The Valley gives out this award to the team(s) that receives the fewest red and yellow cards combined during conference play. Receipt of this award shows that Ramblers and Redbirds demonstrated outstanding sportsmanship and respect for their opponents.
The award winners were recognized this evening at an awards reception in Normal, Ill., prior to the semifinal games tomorrow.