2016 SWAC Soccer Postseason awards announced


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The Southwestern Athletic Conference announced Wednesday morning the 2016 All-SWAC Soccer Teams with Laadi Issaka (Mississippi Valley State), Ariela Lewis (Alabama State), Kendall Hamilton (Howard), Rita Okoro (Alcorn State), and Gabrielle Emilien (Howard) earning individual honors. Accolades were voted on by the league’s coaches and sports information directors.

Issaka and Lewis both earned Co-Offensive Player of the Year honors this season. Issaka assisted in making conference and school history at MVSU as she became the second Devilette in as many years to lead the nation in scoring, as Nykosi Simmons accomplished the feat in 2015. Issaka’s 19 goals tied for the nation’s lead, as she notched the total in 15 contests. She posted five against Alabama A&M on Oct. 23, and four of her scores were game-winning goals. Her 2.73 points per game is also tops in the country.

Lewis led ASU in points with 15 goals in 16 contests, notching 36 points on the season as the catalyst for the Hornets, who finished the regular season as the nation’s leader in goals scored (3.17) and points per game (8.50). The senior finished the year ranked among national leaders in goals per game (sixth), total points (seventh) and total goals (ninth).

Howard University saw players earn multiple specialty awards as Kendall Hamilton received the Defensive Player of the Year honor, and teammate Gabrielle Emilien earned Goalkeeper of the Year. Hamilton led Howard in minutes played and helped anchor a Bison defensive unit that produced six shutouts this season which ranked first in the SWAC. Emilien led the conference with a .889 save percentage – which ranked sixth in nationally – and recorded five shutouts while in goal, finishing the year with the 16th-best goals against average in the nation (0.56).

Alcorn State’s Okoro led her team with eight goals scored on her way to Freshman of the Year accolades. The first-year player from Nigeria also led the SWAC in shots per game with 4.67.

For the first time in league history, the Coach of Year was voted on prior to the tournament. In previous years, the honor would go to the winning coach of the SWAC Soccer Championship. This year’s honoree was Brent Leiba from Howard University. This marks the third-straight season the eight-year coaching veteran has been tabbed with the annual award, as he guided the Bison to a 12-4-2 overall record. Howard finished unbeaten in SWAC play with a 9-0-1 record.

The entire 2016 All-SWAC Team is listed below.

2016 Co- Offensive Players of the Year
Ariela Lewis-Alabama State
Laadi Issaka-Mississippi Valley State

Defensive Player of the Year
Kendall Hamilton-Howard

Freshman of the Year
Rita Okoro-Alcorn State

Goalkeeper of the Year
Gabrielle Emilien-Howard

Coach of the Year
Brent Leiba-Howard

First Team

Ariela Lewis (ALST)
Kela Gray (HOWD)
Aaliyah Lewis (ALST)

Laadi Issaka (MVSU)
Sara Vaughan (HOWD)
Noelle McCullom (HOWD)
Inma Martinez (ALST)

Carmen Suarez (HOWD)
Kendall Hamilton (HOWD)
Kyleigh Io (JKST)

Gabrielle Emilien (HOWD)

Second Team

Rita Okoro (ALCN)
Sophia Zavaka (SUBR)
Kailand Thompson (TXSO)*
Paige Hayward (TXSO)*

Karissa Fenwick (UAPB)*

Jalana Ellis (JKST)
Lexi Krieger (ALST)
Mila Bustos (PVAM)
Gabby Ybarra (UAPB)

Kayla Edwards (ALST)
Makayla Johnson (TXSO)
Mariah Johnson (UAPB)

Victoria Mendes (SUBR)

*indicates voting tie