SPARTANBURG, S.C. - UNC Greensboro forward Tabitha Padgett was named the Southern Conference's Co-Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year to headline a group of eight Spartans earning league women's soccer honors, the conference announced Wednesday.
Padgett, midfielders Jen Bronson and Jenn Partenheimer and defender Lauren Lopez were all first-team selections, while forward Kristin Player, defender Cat Barnekow and goalkeeper Kelsey Kearney took second-team distinction. Padgett and midfielder/forward Lauren Hein earned spots on the SoCon All-Freshman Team.
Padgett has started all 19 games and posted 19 points on a team-high eight goals and three assists on the season. The rookie from Orange Park, Fla., has tallied a team-best five game-winning goals this year, including the lone score in UNCG's 1-0 win over Elon on Oct. 28 that clinched the Spartans' fourth straight regular-season SoCon title. She also scored the game-winners in contests against then-No. 11 Duke (Aug. 28) and last year's SoCon tournament winner, Western Carolina (Oct. 8).
Padgett, who shared Player of the Year honors with Samford's Amber Cress, becomes only the second player in league history to be named the Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year in the same season. Furman's Emily Turgeon was the first to do so, in 2000.
With Padgett's honors, UNCG has had the SoCon Player of the Year in three of the last four seasons and the Freshman of the Year in five of the last seven.
Bronson, a senior captain, capped her career in fine fashion with her third straight first-team selection. The Raleigh, N.C., native and 2006 SoCon Co-Freshman of the Year has three points on three assists this the year. She has started all 19 matches for the Spartans.
Partenheimer has nine points on three goals and three assists on the season. The junior from Apex, N.C., has one game-winning goal on the season, as she notched the decisive strike in UNCG's 1-0 win over College of Charleston on Oct. 23 to lift the Spartans back into first place in the league standings. The all-conference honor is the first for Partenheimer, a team captain.
Lopez, a senior captain, finishes her career with her third straight all-conference selection and second straight first-team pick. One of 10 national finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, Lopez has five points on a goal and three assists on the year and has anchored a defensive unit that has posted 10 shutouts on the season. The Concord, N.C., native recently earned a spot on the 2009 CoSIDA Academic All-District III Second Team.
Player earns all-conference honors for the second time in her career, as she was a first-team pick as a freshman in 2007, when she was also the league's Freshman of the Year. This season, the Placentia, Calif., junior leads the Spartans with 20 points on seven goals and a team-best six assists. Four of her goals have been game-winners, including the only goals in UNCG's 1-0 wins over Virginia Commonwealth (Sept. 6) and Chattanooga (Oct. 18) and both goals in a 2-1, overtime win over Duquesne on Sept. 13.
Barnekow earned all-conference honors in her first season for the Spartans. The sophomore from Santa Rosa, Calif., transferred in from Santa Rosa Junior College and became a huge part of UNCG's lineup, seeing action in all 19 games in both the midfield and defense. Barnekow has six points on a goal and four assists on the year and has been an integral part of a UNCG defense that has allowed just 15 goals on the season.
Kearney earns her second all-conference nod after taking a spot on the first team last year. The sophomore followed up her impressive rookie campaign - which also saw her nab a spot on the inaugural All-Freshman Team - with another solid season in the net, starting all 19 matches and posting a 0.80 goals against average - the third-best single-season mark in school history. The Durham, N.C., native has made 64 saves, good for a .810 save percentage, and posted eight shutouts on the year. She had a season-high nine saves in a 1-0 win over then-No. 11 Duke on Aug. 28.
Hein is UNCG's third-leading scorer with 14 points on the season on five goals and four assists. The Torrance, Calif., native was named the league's Player of the Week on Sept. 22 after a five-point explosion against High Point on Sept. 17, when she had two goals and an assist. She also had both goals in UNCG's 2-1 win over The Citadel on Oct. 25, scoring less than a minute after the Bulldogs had tied the game to give the Spartans the win. Hein has seen action in all 19 matches with four starts.
The Spartans and Samford led the league with four first-team selections each, while UNCG and Davidson had three second-team performers each. Elon put a league-high three players on the All-Freshman Team.
In addition to winning their fourth consecutive regular-season league title, the Spartans (13-6, 9-2 SoCon) clinched the No. 1 seed and hosting duties in this weekend's Southern Conference Women's Soccer Championship. Second-seeded College of Charleston takes on No. 3 seed Samford at 5 p.m. Friday, while UNCG hosts No. 4 Davidson at 7:30 p.m. The title game will be at 1 p.m. Sunday.
F Kyri Bye-Nagel, Davidson
F Tabitha Padgett, UNC Greensboro
F Amber Cress, Samford
M Jen Bronson, UNC Greensboro
M Jenn Partenheimer, UNC Greensboro
M Natalie Fleming, Samford
D Brittany Schneider, College of Charleston
D Claire O'Keefe, Elon
D Lauren Lopez, UNC Greensboro
D Theresa Henry, Samford
GK Alyssa Whitehead, Samford
F Donna-Kay Henry, Chattanooga
F Blakely Low, Davidson
F Molly Calpin, Elon
F Kristin Player, UNC Greensboro
M Courtney Hart, Davidson
M Sara El-Shami, Furman
M Katya Gokhman, Furman
D Annie Pease, College of Charleston
D Amanda Flink, Davidson
D Cat Barnekow, UNC Greensboro
GK Kelsey Kearney, UNC Greensboro
F Alyssa Bearden, College of Charleston
F Meggie Graham, Appalachian State
F Tabitha Padgett, UNC Greensboro
F Becca Smith, Chattanooga
M Scarlett Fakhar, Elon
M Lauren Hein, UNC Greensboro
D Claire Hodge, Furman
D Sabbath McKiernan-Allen, Samford
D Claire O'Keefe, Elon
D Elizabeth Palmer, Elon
D Louise Timboe, Davidson
Co-Players of the Year: Amber Cress, Samford
& Tabitha Padgett, UNC Greensboro
Freshman of the Year: Tabitha Padgett, UNC Greensboro
Coach of the Year: Bob Winch, The Citadel
- UNCG -