BURNSVILLE, Minn. – The Bemidji State University soccer team swept the 2017 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference individual awards announced today by the league office. Rachael Norton was named Offensive Player of the Year, Miranda Famestad was selected as the Defensive Player of the Year, Catherine Arneson earned Goaltender of the Year, Allyson Smith got the Freshman of the Year nod and Jim Stone was named Coach of the Year.
In addition, BSU had seven student-athletes placed on the All-NSIC Teams. Arneson, Famestad, Norton and Raquel Thelen were selected to the First Team, while Dani Nelson, Tia Neuharth and Smith earned a spot on the Second Team. With seven players recognized for All-NSIC honors, the 2017 team matches a program record set in 2016.
Norton becomes just the second BSU player to be selected as the league’s Player of the Year and first since Ashlee Ellefsen earned the honor following the 2010 season. Her first team nod marks the third consecutive season Norton has earned All-NSIC recognition after getting Third Team nods to cap the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
Norton led all NSIC players in points (38), points per game (2.11), goals (14), goals per game (.778), assists (10), assists per game (.556) and game-winning goals (6). She finished the regular season among the top 10 in all of Division II in assists per game, while she was among the top 20 in both points and goals. In NSIC play, she posted a league-high 33 points, 12 goals and nine assists, while she was third with five game-winning goals. She matched Katie Meinhardt for the program’s single-season record for points, Sarah Stram’s 2015 single-season record for game-winning goals and is second on the Beavers’ single-season assists list.
After three seasons, she is already tied for fourth on BSU’s all-time goals scored list (29), is fifth on BSU’s all-time assists list (18), fourth in program history in career game-winning goals (9) and her 76 points place her third on BSU’s all-time scoring list.
Famestad is just the third Beaver to earn the league’s top defensive award following in the footsteps of last year’s winner Christine Szurek and Kari Torgerson, a goaltender who won the 2005 award. After a Second-Team award in 2016, the Sioux Falls, S.D., native makes her second appearance on the All-NSIC team with a 2017 First-Team nod.
Famestad anchored a BSU defensive unit that surrendered just nine goals overall and seven goals in league play to rank second in the NSIC. She led a unit that posted 11 shutouts in 18 matches, which included a 377:18 shutout streak to open the season. In all, the BSU defense has allowed just 177 shots in 18 matches (9.8 spg) and 103 ( 5.7 sogpg) shots on goal. The BSU back line protected a goalkeeping duo that ranked second in the league in goals allowed (0.50) and goals allowed average (0.48). Offensively the senior is sixth on the team in scoring with three goals and a career-high two assists for eight points, logging 1,427 minutes, while starting all 18 of BSU contests this season to sit second on the team.
Arneson is the first BSU student-athlete to be named as the league’s top goaltender since the NSIC started recognizing the award in 2013. A Second-Team pick a year ago, her 2017 First-Team award marks the first of her career.
She is 8-0-2 in 12 appearances and 10 starts and 1,034 minutes in 2017. The Fort Collins, Colo., native finished the regular season fourth in the NSIC in goals against average (.0.52), second in save percentage (.889) and fourth in shutouts (6). She ranked among the nation's top goaltenders in goals against average and save percentage all season and finished the regular season fourth in save percentage (.913) and sixth in the country with a goals against average of .381. The senior opened the season with a 626:41 shutout streak, not allowing her first goal until her eighth appearance of 2017 and led a goalkeeping duo that was second in the league in goals allowed (0.50) and goals allowed average (0.48).
Arneson set career marks for goals against average (0.52), save percentage (.889), wins (8) and shutouts (6) as a senior and her goals against average is the best single-season performance by a BSU goalkeeper, while her save percentage ranks third in program history and her six shutous tie her for third on BSU’s single-season list.
Smith is the first freshman at BSU to earn the NSIC’s Freshman/Newcomer of the Year Award. The rookie from Brainerd, Minn., is second on the team with nine goals, including two game-winners, nine assists and 27 points. She was second in the league with nine assists and 0.50 assists per game, while she was third in the NSIC in points (27), points per game (1.50), goals (9) and goals per game (0.50). In addition, she ranked second in the NSIC averaging 3.67 shots per game.
Smith’s nine goals tied her for 12th on BSU’s single season goal scoring list, while her nine assists was good for third and her 27 points is tied for seventh.
Smith was also named to the All-NSIC Second Team.
A three-time All-NSIC honoree, Thelen earned a spot on the All-NSIC First Team to cap her senior year. She was also a First Team selection in 2016 and earned Third-Team honors following the 2014 season. A midfielder in 2017, she is fifth on the team in scoring with 16 points in 18 appearances. She is fifth on the team with five goals and her five assists rank third among her teammates. The Andover, Minn., native has a knack for scoring the big goal, logging four of her five goals as game-winners.
The Second-Team award is the first of junior Dani Nelson’s collegiate career. The Woodbury, Minn., native is third on the team in scoring with 16 points. Her six goals and four assists both stand as career-highs. Of her 34 shots, 21 have landed on goal to place her third on the team in both categories.
A sophomore, Neuharth also makes her first appearance on the NSIC postseason awards list as a Second-Team selection. A key member of the Beavers’ back line that paced the NSIC in defensive efficiency and produced a program record 11 shutouts, the Prior Lake, Minn., native led all BSU players playing 1,508 minutes of BSU’s 1,684 this season. She started each of BSU’s 18 games and has a career-high two assists.
Stone, who is in his 16th season at BSU, earns his third NSIC Coach of the Year Award. He also received the award following the 2005 and 2016 seasons. Stone has led the 2017 Beavers to their ninth consecutive appearance in the NSIC Tournament and its fifth berth into the semifinal round while accumulating a program-best 12 NSIC victories and setting a BSU all-time record with 15 wins and counting. The Beavers led the NSIC in points (135) and points per game (7.50), goals per game (2.50), assists (45) and assists per game (2.50) while it tied Minnesota State for total goals (45). Surrendering only nine goals, the 2017 Beavers ranked second in the NSIC in goals allowed and goals against average (0.48), which included a program, record 11 shutouts.
Bemidji State entered the postseason after earning a spot in the United Soccer Coaches NCAA Division II poll for the first time in program history, making a run of five straight weeks among the top 25, and reached as high as No. 14.
Bemidji State completed the 2017 regular season ranked No. 14 in the nation with a 14-0-3 record and finished second in the NSIC with a 12-0-3 mark. The Beavers earned the No. 2 seed in the NSIC Tournament and made its ninth consecutive appearance in the league’s post season event, where it defeated Winona State University, 3-2, in the quarterfinal round to advance to play Augustana University Nov. 3 in Mankato, Minn.
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Nestled in Northern Minnesota’s wooded region and located on the shore of Lake Bemidji, Bemidji State University sponsors 15 varsity athletic programs with NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey membership in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, while its 13 NCAA Division II programs hold membership in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).