Costa named Defensive MVP, Craig co-Offensive MVP
Oct. 30, 2012
Montana senior Lauren Costa was named the Big Sky Conference Defensive MVP and senior Erin Craig was named the co-Offensive MVP on Tuesday when the league announced its annual soccer individual award winners and all-conference teams.
Costa and Craig were also repeat selections to the All-Big Sky first team. Senior Lauren McCreath earned second-team honors.
Craig shared Offensive MVP honors with Idaho State sophomore Amanda Ellsworth. Northern Colorado senior Natalie D'Adamio was named Goalkeeper of the Year, and Weber State freshman Chansi Crompton was voted Newcomer of the Year.
Costa becomes Montana's fifth Defensive MVP in program history and its first since Wendy Stuker repeated in 2003 and '04.
Costa has played all but 85 minutes this season at center back and has helped Montana record a Big Sky-leading 11 shutouts. The Grizzlies have allowed just 16 goals this season through 19 matches after allowing 42 in 22 games a season ago.
Her name does not show up in any of the Big Sky Conference statistics, but Costa's presence is easy to spot.
Goalkeeper Kristen Hoon's goals against average of 0.83 ranks second in the league and her nine shutouts are three more than any other Big Sky keeper, but her minuscule 3.16 saves-per-game average does not even make the top 10.
It points to the work being done in front of Hoon, and that shutdown effort starts with Costa.
"Lauren is the leader of our team. She organizes us defensively, and she keeps us focused in games," UM coach Mark Plakorus said. "She is just such a great all-around player. She is good in the air, and she is good with the ball at her feet. She does everything you need a center back to do."
Craig is Montana's sixth Offensive MVP in program history and first since Lindsay Winans won the second of her two MVP awards in 2006.
Craig has taken 69 shots this season (3.63/g), 18 more than any other player in the Big Sky. She has scored a team-leading six goals, three of which have been game-winners, and added four assists. Her 16 points rank fourth in the league.
Craig's 19 career goals are tied for eighth in program history. She ranks fourth in shots (193) and ninth in points (47).
"Erin was recognized by the other coaches in the conference because she works so incredibly hard and is just a handful to deal with," Plakorus said. "She causes a lot of problems for our opponents because she is so active and so dangerous when she has the ball. She is a threat whenever she is on the field."
The all-conference teams are made up of a goalkeeper, four defenders, four midfielders and three forwards, giving the first and second teams a total of 24 selections.
Portland State, which shared the regular-season title with Montana and Idaho State, had a league-high six first- and second-team selections. Idaho State and Northern Colorado both had four players honored.
Costa and Craig, who were both first-team selections a year ago as well, were the only repeat selections on the first team, which was made up of eight seniors, one sophomore and three freshmen.
McCreath, who was an honorable-mention selection as a junior and the team MVP, was Montana's lone selection to the second team.
The underappreciated defensive midfielder has played 1,254 minutes this season and is another reason Montana will be taking a streak of six straight shutouts into this weekend's Big Sky Conference tournament and hasn't allowed a goal in over 548 minutes.
"I'm happy that Lauren got recognized this year, because I think (coaches) tend to overlook her a little bit," Plakorus said. "She is good with the ball and helps us on the attack, but bigger than that she is such a defensive presence and is a lot for teams to deal with.
"She's worked hard the last two years to become the player she has become, so it's a really neat thing for her to be recognized."
Montana had just three first and second teamers, but Griz were prevalent on the list of honorable-mention selections, a distinction received if a player earns at least one vote for first or second team but not enough to actually make the first or second team.
Hoon, whose nine shutouts are three more than any other keeper in the Big Sky, highlighted Montana's honorable-mention selections. Wilkins and Frey were two of Montana's starting defenders who joined Costa on the Grizzlies' back line that protected Hoon.
Makris, Adair and Akins earned honorable-mention honors for their work in the midfield. Adair was also honorable mention a year ago.
Akins ranks third on the team in scoring, with two goals and four assists. Makris is fourth with two goals and three assists, and Adair is sixth with one goal and two assists.
"It's nice having that many players recognized for what they do for us by the other coaches in the conference," Plakorus said. "It says a lot about the performance of those players throughout the season."
Montana will get a chance to face Portland State's six All-Big Sky Conference players Friday when the Griz and Vikings meet in the opening semifinal of the four-team Big Sky tournament at Pocatello, Idaho.
Portland State defeated Montana 2-0 in the teams' regular-season meeting on PSU's home field at Hillsboro, Ore., late last month.
** 2012 Big Sky Conference individual award winners **
Newcomer of the Year
Goalkeeper of the Year
** First-team All-Big Sky Conference **
** Second-team All-Big Sky Conference **
** Honorable-mention All-Big Sky Conference **
Goalkeepers -- Kristen Hoon, Montana; Lauren Weaver, Northern Arizona; Charly Booth, Southern Utah; Ryann Waldman, Weber State
Defenders -- Katie Cashman, Eastern Washington; Vanessa Cabilan, Idaho State; Taylor McBride, Idaho State; Kate Wilkins, Montana; Maddy Frey, Montana; Aundreaha Martinez, Northern Colorado; Janelle Kramer, Northern Colorado; Kayla Henningsen, Portland State; Kelsey Henningsen, Portland State; McKenna Swanson, Sacramento State; Rachel Krenzer, Southern Utah; Shaylee Peterson, Weber State
Midfielders -- Katy Allen, Eastern Washington; Tyler Adair, Montana; Mary Makris, Montana; Mackenzie Akins, Montana; Emily Roth, Northern Arizona; Alexsys Tamayo, Northern Colorado; Lynsey Gaines, Portland State; Megan Burg, Sacramento State; Jessica Small, Sacramento State; Jessica Castano, Sacramento State; Morgan Bridge, Southern Utah; Savannah Spere, Southern Utah; Abbey Kennedy, Weber State; Kendra Bailey, Weber State
Forwards -- Rhaya Ballon, North Dakota; Demi Schmieder, Northern Arizona; Brittany Dunn, Northern Colorado; Elece McBride, Sacramento State; Alyssa Anderson, Sacramento State; Stacey Brinkman, Southern Utah; Mackenzie Harrison, Weber State; Ari Aki, Weber State
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