For the second time in three years, Spring Arbor University is the national champion after defeating Benedictine College (Kan.) 2-0 in the NAIA Women’s Soccer National Championship on Saturday, Dec. 2, in Orange Beach, Alabama.
Junior Bethany Balcer was named the NAIA Women’s Soccer Most Valuable Player of the tournament while senior Aubrey Schierbeek earned the NAIA Outstanding Offensive Player Award. In addition to Balcer and Schierbeek, two other Cougars were named to the All-Tournament Team as seniors Ashley Timmons and Sarah Klunder were selected for the honor.
Balcer also tied her own NAIA record with seven tournament goals. With her two scores against Benedictine, the junior from Hudsonville, Michigan has 98 for her career.
The SAU Women’s Soccer Team set an NAIA National Championship record with 18 goals scored over the five national tournament games. The previous record was 17 held by Lindsey Wilson (2015) and Westmont (2003). The win marked the 24th of the season for Spring Arbor – the most wins in a single-season in program history. The Cougars also set a new program record for goals in a season (102).
Following the win, Head Coach Jason Crist said, “Late this season, our mantra has been ‘lean into it’ as we’ve asked our players to lean into uncomfortable and challenging situations, not just on the field, but in their everyday lives. They are champions.” Crist continued, “I am most proud of how our players represent their families, our university and their faith. I am honored and humbled to be their coach.”
For a highlight reel of the game, go here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=1lhs2cUID94
For a highlight photo gallery of the game, go here: