Women's soccer earns near sweep of ASUN end-of-season awards
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
By Logan Butts
Women's soccer earns near sweep of ASUN end-of-season awards

LakePoint, Ga. – After another successful regular season campaign, the Lipscomb women’s soccer team has earned a number of end-of-season accolades from the ASUN, as announced by the league offices on Wednesday afternoon.

The Lady Bisons earned four of the five main awards, as well as eight spots on the three all-conference teams.

Senior Anna Buhigas won her third consecutive ASUN Goalkeeper of the Year award, a first-time feat in conference history. Buhigas is among the league leaders this season in shutouts (six), saves (86), GAA (1.10), and save percentage (.819).

"I am so happy for Anna,” Lipscomb women’s soccer head coach Kevin O’Brien said. “We didn’t have the defensive numbers we’ve had the past two seasons, but she’s been so solid over her career that I think the coaches have rewarded her for that body of work.

"Three-time Goalkeeper of the Year is pretty astounding, and we’re grateful for all she has done for this program.”

She earned her fourth career ASUN Defensive Player of the Week award earlier in the season after blanking SEC foe Vanderbilt and arch-rival Belmont in the first week of the season. She followed up that performance with a shutout of another SEC foe, Mississippi State.

This is the fourth consecutive year Buhigas has earned an All-Conference honor.

Redshirt-junior Niamh Rawlins earned the program’s second Defensive Player of the Year award with her stellar play on the Bison backline.

As the anchor of one of the ASUN's toughest defenses, Rawlins helped Lipscomb earn six shutouts. She also notched one assist and took three shots on offense in the follow-up campaign to her 2015 First Team All-Conference season.

“If anyone deserves and award on our team its Niamh Rawlins,” O’Brien said. “When she tore her ACL in the spring, she told the team that she was going to be playing with her classmates come conference championship time. 

“Her commitment to rehab has allowed her to play way more this season than we ever expected, and the fact that she’s playing at such a high level is even more impressive.”

Olivia Doak became the second consecutive Lady Bison to be named ASUN Freshman of the Year following Maycie McKay’s win last season, and the third in the last four years for Lipscomb. The forward has notched a team-high seven goals, which is the third-best mark in the ASUN, as well as two assists for a team-best 17 points.

Doak, who was named one of Top Drawer Soccer’s Top 100 Freshmen, earned a Player of the Week after her first week of action in which she scored all three goals for the Lady Bisons in a win over Vanderbilt and a tie with Belmont.

“There is not a player on our team that’s worked harder this season that Olivia Doak,” O’Brien said. “I’m thankful she is being rewarded for that effort and even more thankful that she’s got three more years to play for this program.”

Head coach Kevin O’Brien was named the ASUN’s Coach of the Year, a first in the history of the program. Heading into this season, O’Brien’s teams have improved their record each season, and he has now coached the Purple and Gold to three consecutive double-digit win seasons.

“It’s a great honor for me to be recognized by my peers, especially because I feel our conference has some very talented coaches in its ranks,” O’Brien said. “I also want to thank Kelsey, Shannon, Brit, Zander, Hilarie, and Graham because it’s been a team effort since day one. Coming to work is a joy when you’re surrounded by such amazing people.”

This season, the Lady Bisons tied their program-best regular season win total of 11 and have earned a first-round bye in the conference tournament for the third year in a row.

Joining Buhigas, Rawlins, and Doak on the All-Conference First Team are redshirt-junior Ellen Lundy and junior Natalie DuBoise.

Lundy, who started off the year as a center back before transitioning back to her old position at forward, has scored six goals, the second-highest mark on the team and fourth-best in the ASUN.

In her first stretch back at forward since her 2013 First-Team All-Conference campaign, Lundy has notched 12 points, took 22 shots, and placed 14 on goal.

DuBoise earned her first career ASUN end-of-season recognition with her placement on the All-Conference First Team.

So far this season, DuBoise has notched six goals (the second-highest total on the team and fourth-best in the ASUN), four assists (the second-highest mark on the team), and 16 points (second best on the team and fifth best in the ASUN). The versatile attacker also took 31 shots, landing 19 on goal.

“I’m surprised, excited, and extremely grateful,” O’Brien said. “That’s what I’m feeling about the appointment of these five players to the All-Conference first team.

“Four of these girls committed to play for us when our record was 2-11-4. The fact that we’ve rattled off three strong seasons in a row is directly correlated to the dedication and hard work of these players. They showed up and worked their tails off to become a winning program, and I’m happy that they are getting recognized for their individual contributions as well.”

Sophomore Maycie McKay landed on the All-Conference Second Team, giving her All-Conference honors in back-to-back seasons.

McKay leads the team in assists with seven, which is the third best mark in the ASUN. She has also notched two goals for a total of 11 points, and is tied for the team lead with 32 shots, 17 of which have landed on goal.

Midfielder Leah Cernicky joined Doak on the All-Freshman Team after starting in 14 of 17 games in her first season with the Lady Bisons.

Cernicky has notched one goal and one assist for a total of three points so far on the year. She also took 23 shots, landing six on goal while providing a steadying presence in the midfield for the Purple and Gold.

The Lady Bisons will be back in action in the second round of the ASUN Tournament on November 4. Lipscomb will be taking on the winner of Stetson and North Florida at FGCU.