AUSTIN, Texas – Valparaiso women’s soccer seniors Rita Craven (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way North) and Jenny Fassbinder (Hudson, Wis./Hudson) were named to the 2015 Academic All-America® Division I Women’s Soccer First Team as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). In addition, Milwaukee senior Kelsey Holbert (Western Springs, Ill./Lyons Township) was named to the second team.
Being honored on one of the three 11-member national teams, as selected by CoSIDA, is the highest academic honor possible in Division I women's soccer.
Craven and Fassbinder are the only teammates on the 11-player First Team Academic All-America squad. Both biology majors, Craven carried a 3.97 cumulative GPA into her senior year, while Fassbinder has posted a 3.96 cumulative GPA through her first three years at Valparaiso. Craven was also an National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) First Team Scholar All-American choice last season, while Fassbinder was an NSCAA Third Team Scholar All-American in 2014.
On the field, both Craven and Fassbinder were integral parts of a Crusader side as juniors which posted the best season in program history: a 14-2-4 overall record, sweeping through the Horizon League at 8-0-0 to capture the regular season title, winning the league tournament championship and advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in program history.
Craven closed out a terrific four-year career with her second straight First Team All-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.
Fassbinder showcased her versatility over her four years as a Crusader, playing all over the field for Valpo. She spent her junior season as one of the linchpins on the back line for a Valpo side which posted the best defensive season in program history and ranked among the nation’s best defensive sides. This year, she started out the campaign on the back line before moving up to forward as needed. Fassbinder concluded her senior season with a goal and two assists, and registered four goals and four assists over her four seasons.
The honors for Craven and Fassbinder mark just the second time in Valpo athletics history that teammates have both earned spots on any of the Academic All-American squads in the same season. With this year’s recognition for Craven and Fassbinder, the Crusaders have now had 27 Academic All-Americans all-time, including nine First Team selections. Craven and Fassbinder join Jackie Thomas (2007 – Third Team) and Jackie Kondratko (2008 – First Team) as Academic All-Americans from the women’s soccer program.
A pre-med Chemistry major, carrying a near-perfect 3.97 GPA in the classroom, Holbert earned a spot on the Second Team Academic All-America squad. The honor puts her in elite company within the Milwaukee women’s soccer program, joining Ginny Graczyk who was selected to second team in 2006. Holbert is the 19th Milwaukee student-athlete to earn the honor all-time across all sports.
Holbert returned to the field this fall after missing nearly all of the 2014 season to injury. The midfielder was one of the catalysts of a turnaround for the women's soccer team, leading the Panthers to an unbeaten conference record and the 2015 Horizon League regular-season title.
Holbert capped her Panther career with all-league honors for the third time in her career, this time with second-team status. The midfield sparkplug contributed eight points, including an assist tally of six that stood fourth in the league.