Brentwood, TN – Junior forward Tatiana Ariza was named Ohio Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Year and a school-record four Austin Peay State University women’s soccer players were named 2012 All-OVC teams, the conference office announced Wednesday following a vote of OVC coaches and women’s soccer sports information directors.Ariza and her sister Natalia were named to the first-team, while senior Emily Perkins and junior Haylee Shoaff earned second-team honors. Southeast Missouri’s Hayley Abbott was named Defensive Player of the Year, while UT Martin’s Saphyra Coombs-James taking Freshman of the Year and Skyhawks coach Phil McNamara earning Coach of the Year honors.
Ariza scored 12 goals and tallied seven assists this season, leading the Lady Govs with 31 points in just 17 games after returning from duty with the Colombian National Team at the 2012 London Olympics. She scored nine goals and assisted on three others in conference matches, propelling Austin Peay to a second-place finish and first-round bye in this week’s OVC Tournament in Martin, Tennessee.
After winning the program’s first-ever OVC Freshman of the Year award in 2010, Ariza has now become the first to take home conference Offensive Player of the Year honors as well. In addition, she becomes Austin Peay’s first three-time first-team All-OVC selection.
“Tatiana has had a great season so far,” said head coach Kelley Guth. “It’s a great honor for her to represent the conference as Player of the Year.”
Her sister Natalia joined Tatiana on the first-team. Another Olympian, Natalia returned to Clarksville in a more defensive role this season, playing an exemplary midfield and sliding back to defender as needed. She assisted on three goals this season. She’s now a two-time first-team all-conference honoree (2010); she was second-team All-OVC in 2011.
“I think everyone knows that Natalia is a crucial part of our line-up,” Guth said. “She adopted a more defensive mentality this year, and has done such a great job all season. We wouldn’t have been as good this year without her.”
Perkins, the current OVC Player of the Week, continues to rack up accolades in her final season. She was named to the All-OVC second team as a forward, tallying four of her seven goals and five of six assists in conference play. She tied with Tatiana Ariza for the OVC lead with four game-winning goals this season.
Shoaff rounded out the quartet of Lady Govs to earn accolades. The Coral Springs, FL, native was nearly unbeatable in OVC play, posting six shutouts and 53 total saves in 10 conference matches. Her 93 saves this season are fourth-most in school history, and her six shutouts are tied for second-most all-time. She’s the first Lady Govs goalkeeper to earn all-conference honors since Sarah Broadbent in 2005.
“She has developed confidence throughout the season,” Guth said. “She has improved in the areas we needed her to improve and has been commanding in the box.”
This is the first time in Austin Peay history that four Lady Govs have been selected All-Conference; three have been chosen on six occasions, most recently last year.
“These awards are not just recognition of individual players, but a testament to our team,” Guth said. “They allowed our players to do their jobs the best they could and get recognized.”
Austin Peay begins the quest for its first-ever OVC Tournament title, 7:00pm, Friday, when they face the winner of Thursday’s first-round battle between Eastern Kentucky and SIU Edwardsville.