LakePoint, Ga. – Just one week after clinching a share of the first regular season crown in program history, Lipscomb women’s soccer’s Ellen Lundy has won the first ASUN Player of the Year award in school history, as announced by the league offices on Wednesday.
Lundy has been integral to the Lady Bisons success on both offense and defense this season, as she started out the season at centerback before moving back to forward during the conference campaign.
“What a great accomplishment for Ellen, especially considering the wealth of talent our conference is producing,” O’Brien said. “The recognition could not be given to a better person. She is the epitome of a team player and has always served this program in whatever capacity we’ve asked.
“From making our program’s save of the season against No. 10 Auburn to scoring the game winning goal vs. No. 25 FGCU, the girl can and has done it all. She is a special person, and I’m thankful she has received this award today.”
The Arkansas native has notched a team-high seven goals this season, extending her program record to more than double that of second place with 33 career goals.
Of her seven goals this year, six have come in ASUN play and four have been game-winners, including the penalty that gave Lipscomb it’s first-ever win over FGCU, a ranked team, and conference title in one fell swoop. She also leads the team in points (14), shots (36), and shots-on-goal (15), each of which ranks in the top-11 in the ASUN.
Head coach Kevin O’Brien is also taking home major hardware as he has been named the ASUN Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season, this time by a unanimous vote. O’Brien has lead the Purple and Gold to a share of their first-ever conference title, as well as home-field advantage in the ASUN Tournament and a first-round bye for the fourth year in a row.
“As for coach of the year, I’d like to retitle it coaching staff of the year,” O’Brien said. “Because, without the good work of Leah, Shannon, Brit, and Graham, my recognition would not be possible. Not to mention our amazing trainer Hillarie who keeps our team healthy, and Sean who keeps them strong. It’s a team effort each and every day, and I’m blessed to get to work alongside such an amazing group.”
Joining Lundy on the All-Conference First Team are two fellow seniors: midfielder Jade Abarca and defender Niamh Rawlins.
Lundy and Rawlins are making their third appearances on the First Team, tying former goalkeeper Anna Buhigas’ program record. Abarca is appearing on the First Team for the second time in her career after earning the distinction in 2014.
Rawlins, last season’s ASUN Defensive Player of the Year, has been a steadying presence in the Bison backline all season. She has helped anchor a Lipscomb defense that forced five shutouts, including three against conference opponents. On offense, she notched one assist and took six shots.
“Niamh has become a staple on this team for a few years now and will be sorely missed in future campaigns,” O’Brien said. “It’s her bravery on the field and toughness on the tackle that makes her a stand out as a player to me.
“But, what people do not see is her quiet leadership on a daily basis. She’s a captain that has the respect of her teammates and coaches because she cares so very deeply about us all. I wish every player played with the passion and heart that Niamh displays. It’s truly a joy to coach a woman like that.”
Abarca was the catalyst for a high-powered Bison offense, controlling the midfield to the tune of one goal and a team-high three assists, the fifth highest mark in the ASUN. She also took 26 shots, landing 13 on goal.
“I am so thrilled the coaches have recognized Jade as a First-Team All-Conference performer,” O’Brien said. “In the past, Jade has always been a bit of an unsung hero on this team, playing her position exceptionally well, without any real glitz or glamour.
“I feel that Jade has really stepped it up this season in her willingness and desire to be our midfield general. She’s skillful, tricky, fit, and quick, thus making her a very difficult player to mark out of a game. I am grateful Jade has been recognized for her stellar contributions to our team this season.”
Sophomore Olivia Doak and junior Justis Bailey earned spots on the All-Conference Second Team.
Doak followed up her 2016 Freshman of the Year campaign with three goals, two assists, eight points, 31 shots, and 12 shots on goal, all of which are the second-highest marks for the Purple and Gold.
“This is a great award for a great person,” O’Brien said. “Olivia is on a fantastic trajectory for our team. From Freshman of the Year in 2016 to Second-Team All-Conference as a sophomore is an exceptional achievement. Her future is as bright as they come, and I’m thankful she’s got two more seasons to compete for the Lady Bisons.
“I’d be remiss not to mention that her hunger to achieve great things is unmatched. She is driven and carries the standard both on and off the field. I think she will be a strong leader one day very soon.”
Bailey lined up at centerback in all 17 games for a Bison defense that allowed 21 goals and forced five shutouts. She often matched up against the opposition’s best attacker, and added one assist and four shots on offense.
“Of all the Lipscomb selections today, I may be the happiest about Justis because she’s a first-timer to receive a conference award,” O’Brien said. “She has improved each season with us, and I feel that she had her breakout season for the program.
“Her athleticism is ridiculous, and she’s become a force to be reckoned with in our backline. I’m thrilled that all of her hard work is being recognized.”
The Lady Bisons are looking to follow up their unprecedented regular season success with a third consecutive appearance in the ASUN title game. The ASUN Championship semifinals and finals will be hosted at the Lipscomb Soccer Complex on Nov. 3 and 5.