Player of the Year
Casey Nogueira, who wanted so badly to play for North Carolina that she moved from her home in Cedarburg, Wis., to Raleigh to be near the Tar Heels in high school, has backed up her commitment with superb performances in two Women's College Cup finals in three years at UNC.
In 2006, Nogueira scored a goal and an assist to lead the Tar Heels to a 2-1 win over Notre Dame in the final. In 2008, she scored both goals — "world-class goals," according to UNC coach Anson Dorrance — to lead a second-half comeback that gave the Heels another 2-1 win over the Irish in the final.
Nogueira, the 10th different Tar Heel to win Soccer America Women's Player of the Year honors, was so intent on playing for the Tar Heels that she graduated a year early from Broughton High School, which she led to a pair of North Carolina state titles. The daughter of indoor goalkeeping great Victor Nogueira, Casey learned from her father how to attack the goal.
Nogueira scored 13 goals in 24 games as a sophomore, but Dorrance pressed Nogueira on the need to work harder on and off the ball.
Dorrance insisted that Nogueira become more intense and contribute more on defense. He also counseled her on her shot selection, emphasizing different approaches whether she was inside or outside the goal.
That work paid off with 25 goals and 58 points — tops in the country — and six multiple-goal games in 2008.
Four players three-peat
Soccer America's 2008 Women's MVP awards are highlighted by four holdovers from the 2006 and 2007 teams. First-team picks Christina DiMartino (UCLA) and Kerri Hanks (Notre Dame) and second-team selections Yael Averbuch (North Carolina) and Kasey Moore (Texas) were selected for the third year in a row.
Soccer America's MVPS were introduced in 1976 and honor the players who have had the biggest impact on their team's success regardless of position.
Coach of the Year
Stanford's Ratcliffe builds elite program
In his sixth season at Stanford, Coach Paul Ratcliffe has built the Cardinal program into one of the best in the country.
Stanford earned a No. 1 regional seed and reached the final four for the first time since 1993 when Julie Foudy was still playing. The Cardinal fell, 1-0, in the semifinals to Notre Dame but not before putting on an impressive display.
Stanford set a school season record for wins (22) and goals (71). Its only blemishes in its 22-2-1 season were to College Cup teams — 1-0 losses to Notre Dame and UCLA and a 1-1 tie with North Carolina.
"It's been a spectacular season," Ratcliffe said. "The team has played great soccer the entire year and I'm proud of every one of them."
Stanford should be very good again in 2009. The Cardinal will return Soccer America Freshman of the Year Lindsay Taylor and Teresa Noyola and Kelley O'Hara, who also earned All-America honors.
Freshman of the Year
Cardinal Taylor sets pace
Stanford forward Lindsay Taylor tied for the team lead with 16 goals for the NCAA Division I semifinalist.
Taylor, a 5-7 forward from nearby Los Altos, had four multi-goal games, including a blistering three-goal performance against Santa Clara, for the Cardinal.
"Scoring 16 goals as a freshman is an extraordinary accomplishment," said Ratcliffe. "I can't say enough about Lindsay."
Taylor was joined by Cardinal teammates Teresa Noyola and Camille Levin on the Soccer America All-Freshman first team.
She was just one of several forwards to have sensational freshman seasons. Sarah Hagen (24 goals for Wisconsin-Milwaukee) and Laura Heyboer (21 goals for Michigan State) were also named to the All-Freshman first team.
Soccer America Women's Player of the Year
Casey Nogueira (North Carolina)
Soccer America Women's MVPs
Alyssa Naeher (Penn State), Marisa Abegg (Stanford), Lauren Cheney (UCLA), Carrie Dew (Notre Dame), Christina DiMartino (UCLA), Kerri Hanks (Notre Dame), Nikki Krzysik (Virginia), Casey Nogueira (North Carolina), Yolanda Odenyo (Oklahoma State), Megan Rapinoe (Portland), Sanna Talonen (Florida State).
Erin Guthrie (Rutgers), Ameera Abdullah (Florida), Yael Averbuch (North Carolina), Greer Barnes (West Virginia), Hailey Beam (Charlotte), Amanda DaCosta (Florida State), Tobin Heath (North Carolina), Corky Julien (James Madison), Nikki Marshall (Colorado), Kasey Moore (Texas), Elisabeth Redmond (Duke).
Coach of the Year
Paul Ratcliffe (Stanford)
Freshman of the Year
Lindsay Taylor (Stanford)
All-Freshmen First Team
Jillian Mastroianni (Boston College), Danielle Foxhoven (Portland), Sarah Hagen (Wisconsin-Milwaukee), Melissa Henderson (Notre Dame), Laura Heyboer (Michigan State), Courtney Jones (North Carolina), Camille Levin (Stanford), Tiffany McCarty (Florida State), Teresa Noyola (Stanford), Lindsay Taylor (Stanford), Bri Young (Texas A&M).
Aline Reis (Central Florida), Lauren Alwine (Virginia), Melanie Baskind (Harvard), Julia Bouchelle (Boston College), Emily Cressy (Kansas), Kelly D'Ambrisi (Georgetown), Katy Frierson (Auburn), Sydney Leroux (UCLA), Ashley Rape (Duke), Casey Short (Florida State), Tamara Strahota (Minnesota).
(This article originally appeared in the January 2009 issue ofSoccer Americamagazine.)