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SPRING ARBOR, Mich. – Receiving the highest athletic honor bestowed by the conference, Bethany Balcer (Hudsonville, MI / Unity Christian HS) has been named the 2015-16 Crossroads League Female Student-Athlete of the Year after piecing together one of the most decorated campaigns in Spring Arbor University Athletics history as a member of the women’s soccer program.


In a league that produced 46 All-Americans among its nine sponsored women’s sports and saw more than 1,300 female student-athletes compete during the year, Balcer earned the league’s pinnacle award following a season where she guided SAU to its first-ever NAIA national championship and was honored as the NAIA National Player of the Year – the first freshman to win the award since its inception in 1997.


“Bethany has the athletic tools that all college coaches want in their players,” said head women’s soccer coach Jason Crist. “She’s tall, fast, strong and athletic. She’s capable of playing anywhere on the field for us. Beth is great in the air and can absolutely hammer the ball with either foot. She is still improving and has not reached her potential yet.”


Dominant throughout the year, Balcer became the first women’s soccer player in SAU history to receive a NAIA All-American First Team selection. She rewrote the program’s record book as her 73 points and 30 goals shattered the previous all-time best marks. She finished the season ranked first in the country with 12 game-winning goals, while also ranking top-10 in points, goals and assists (13).


Balcer was nothing short of sensational leading the Cougars to a program record 23 wins, their fifth consecutive Crossroads League regular season championship and their sixth straight Crossroads League Tournament title. She was honored as the league’s Player of the Year and was named a First Team All-Conference performer, while also racking up six Offensive Player of the Week awards.


According to Crist, it is not the awards and accolades that drive Balcer though, but her desire to use her gifts and abilities for God’s glory.


“What really sets Beth apart is her why,” added Crist. “On our team we strive to be motivated properly. Not by championships or awards, recognition or records, but rather by maximizing our potential for the glory of our Savior Jesus Christ. Bethany is a clear example of a young Christian woman who genuinely desires to use and develop her God-given talents to glorify God. She is humble, hard-working and has a servant’s heart. Bethany carries herself humbly and with class. She is a brilliant representative of our soccer program and our University.”

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