KANSAS CITY – Six Horizon League women’s soccer student-athletes earned All-Great Lakes Region honors from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA). Four players -- Oakland’s Joan Sieja, Macy Hamblin of Northern Kentucky, Milwaukee’s Cassidy Blanchard and Niki Romero of Wright State – were named to the Second Team, while the Valparaiso duo of Rita Craven and April Cronin received Third Team All-Region accolades.
Sieja, a senior from Rochester Hills, Mich., is Oakland’s first All-Region selection since Kyla Kellermann and Kara Weber in 2012.
The forward led the Golden Grizzlies to its first-ever Horizon League Tournament title this season and first conference tournament title since 2012. She also tallied the game-winning assist in the Horizon League Championship game to send the Golden Grizzlies to the NCAA Tournament. She earned her first all-region selection as she led the Golden Grizzlies in points with 14 and assists with eight, while starting in all 21 games. Her eight assists tied a career-high, while her three goals and 14 points were both career-bests.
In postseason play, Sieja was named the 2015 Horizon League Tournament Most Valuable Player and was an All-Horizon League First-Team selection. She finished her career with 81 games played, tied for third-most in Oakland history.
Hamblin was named the Horizon League Player of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year and was an All-League First Team selection after leading the League with 21 points after six goals and a League-leading nine assists. Her 21 points on the year set NKU's Division I program record.
The sophomore Fairfield, Ohio, native also led the League in shots with 87 after averaging 5.12 per game. Her offensive production helped lead the Norse to an 11-5-2 overall record, the best mark in a Division I season for NKU. The squad advanced to the Horizon League semifinals where they battled Oakland to a draw.
Blanchard, the 2015 Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year and first-team all-league, played a major role managing a Milwaukee defensive backline that led the Horizon League with its 0.69 goals-against average and nine shutouts.
One of just eight sophomores out of the 36 players that were named to the three squads, she is also the first Panther sophomore to be honored as an all-region pick since Sarah Hagen in 2009.
In her first year in the Horizon League, Romero keyed a Wright State team that went to the Horizon League championship game before falling on a golden goal. The sophomore earned First Team All-Horizon League honors after helping the Raiders hold opponents to 0.85 goals per game.
As with Blanchard, Romero was one of eight sophomores among the three teams.
Both Craven and Cronin earned All-Region recognition for the second straight season for the Crusaders.
Craven, a Frankfort, Ill.-native, closed out a terrific four-year career with her second straight First Team All-Horizon League honor as a senior in 2015, tying for the team lead in assists and finishing second on the squad in goals (6) and points (15). She finished her career ninth in program history in goals, tied for fourth in assists and eighth in points. Nine of her 14 career goals were of the match-winning variety, second-most in Crusader history.
Cronin, a junior from Glenview, Ill., joined Craven as a repeat member of the First Team All-Horizon League after another standout year on the attack. Cronin paced Valpo with seven goals, three assists and 17 points on the year, and tied for second in the Horizon League with her seven goals. She tied for eighth on Valpo’s single-season goal-scoring chart this year and has boosted her career total to 17 goals, sixth-best all-time at Valpo and just one goal shy of fourth position.
2015 NSCAA NCAA Division I Women's All-Great Lakes Region
Casey Murphy, So., GK, Rutgers
Kaily Cox, Sr., D, Oral Roberts
Brianne Reed, Sr., D, Rutgers
Erica Skroski, Sr., D, Rutgers
Lorina White, Jr., D, Ball State
Corinne Harris, Sr., MF, Michigan
Rose Lavelle, Jr., MF, Wisconsin
Emily Ogle, So., MF, Penn State
Raquel Rodriguez, Jr., MF, Penn State
Jenna Hellstrom, Jr., F, Kent State
Simone Kolander, Jr., F, Minnesota
Megan Schafer, So., F, Penn State
Britt Eckerstrom, Sr., GK, Penn State
Rashida Beal, Jr., D, Minnesota
Cassiday Blanchard, So., D, Milwaukee
Niki Romero, So., D, Wright State
Christina Murillo, Sr., D, Michigan
Joan Sieja, Sr., MF, Oakland
Josee Stiever, Jr., MF, Minnesota
Chelsy Swackhamer, Sr., MF, Ball State
Mallory Weber, Sr., MF, Penn State
Abbie Boswell, Fr., F, Ball State
Colby Ciarrocca, So., F, Rutgers
Macy Hamblin, So., F, Northern Kentucky
Stephanie Heber, So., GK, Western Michigan
Mary Kathryn Fiebernitz, Sr., D, Michigan State
Jackie Hall, Sr., D, Buffalo
Michela Paradiso, Sr., D, Ohio State
Brianna Stelzer, Sr., D, Wisconsin
Rita Craven, Sr., MF, Valparaiso
Victoria Pickett, Fr., MF, Wisconsin
Amy Yang, Jr., MF, North Dakota State
Donavan Capehart, So., F, Kent State
April Cronin, Jr., F, Valparaiso
Lauren Miller, Jr., , North Dakota State
Nichelle Prince, Jr., F, Ohio State