The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

December 4, 2012

Ashford athletes earn awards

Special to the Herald

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Senior Chelsea Fisher and junior Hollie Babut were inseparable on the pitch this season for the Ashford University women's soccer team. On Monday, they found their names side-by-side for seemingly the final time as AU teammates.

After combining for 33 of the team's 67 goals and leading AU to its second national tournament berth ever, both players have been named National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics honorable mention all-americans.

Lucas Almeida also received honorable mention all-american status from Ashford’s men’s team.

Fisher, a Calgary, Alberta-native, was named Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) Player of the Year after Ashford upset #14-ranked California State University-San Marcos, 1-0, in the A.I.I. Tournament Championship. She scored 13 goals and handed out nine assists during her final year in purple and gold to bring her career goals total to 49, and career assists mark to 32. In addition, she fired 64 shots, placing 29 on goal, was three-of-three from the penalty spot and hammered home two game-winning markers.

Fisher was also a First Team All-A.I.I. selection.

Oshawa, Ontario-native, Babut, recorded the 15th-most goals among all individuals in the nation with an A.I.I.-best and team-high 20 goals. In addition, she led the entire nation with nine game-winning scores while serving up six assists. Babut totaled five two-goal matches and had a season-high four goals in AU's 9-3 rout of Mount Mercy University.

Additionally, the junior forward was named First Team All-A.I.I. and earned a Capital One Academic All-America® College Division Second Team selection when those awards were announced last month.

The duo single-handedly hooked up to tally eight goals this season with Fisher assisting Babut on six occasions.

Lindsey Wilson's (Ky.) Mia Persson, a native of Sjobo, Sweden, has been named the 2012 Select Sport America-NAIA National Player of the Year. Persson is the third Blue Raider in program history to receive the award since its inception in 1985. The senior midfielder, who is No. 1 on Lindsey Wilson's all-time scoring list with 72 career goals in 94 matches, capped her final campaign by leading the Blue Raiders to the programs third national championship with a win over Olivet Nazarene (Ill.), 3-2, on Dec. 1.

The NAIA All-America committee, which is comprised of the NAIA-Women's Soccer Coaches Association officers and seven additional women's soccer coaches, select the three teams consisting of 13 individuals.

The Saints finished 2012 with a 14-5-2 record overall and qualified for the NAIA Women's Soccer National Championship. Ashford was ousted by eventual champion, Lindsey Wilson, in the tournament's second round.

Almeida started in 19 matches for the Saints and scored 12 goals to go along with eight assists as AU recorded a 13-4-4 mark overall and notched its second-ever berth in the NAIA national tournament. The Sao Paulo, Brazil-native was a First Team All-A.I.I. selection following the regular season and a member of the A.I.I. All-Tournament squad.

In addition, Almeida scored the game-winning goal in the NAIA Men's Soccer National Championship Opening Round clash against Benedictine College (Kan.) and had his lone two-goal contest of the season in a 2-1 home victory over Jamestown College (N.D.) on Oct. 20. For the year, Almeida recorded six game-winning goals and was a perfect three-of-three from the penalty spot.

Mobile (Ala.) senior midfielder Stephen Okai, an Accra, Ghana-native, was honored as the Select Sport America-NAIA Men's Soccer National Player of the Year. Since the awards inception in 1997, Okai becomes the first Ram to be National Player of the Year in men's soccer.

Mobile went 17-5-2 on the season and finshed second in the NAIA National Championship.

He started in 23 games and tied for second on the team in assists, nine, and tallied 10 goals.

The NAIA All-America committee consists of the NAIA-Men's Soccer Coaches Association Executive Committee, the championship games committee and two men's soccer coaches based on geography. The committee selected 11 members on each of the first Team, second Team and third Teams, and then an additional honorable mention list.