Kozal Named Named B1G Goalkeeper of the Year, as Four Spartans Earn Postseason Honors

Kozal Named Named B1G Goalkeeper of the Year, as Four Spartans Earn Postseason Honors

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Four Michigan State women’s soccer players earned Big Ten postseason awards, as announced by the league Thursday afternoon.

Junior goalkeeper Lauren Kozal was named the Big Ten’s Goalkeeper of the Year and was a first-team All-Big Ten selection for the Spartans. Fifth-year forward Ava Cook and senior defender Samantha White were named second-team All-Big. In addition, fifth-year Bella Jodzis was a Big Ten Sportsmanship Award honoree, one of 13 selected by the league.

This was the first-ever Goalkeeper of the Year honor awarded to a member of the Spartans and the first position player of the year for MSU since 2008, when Lauren Heyboer was Offensive Player of the Year. Kozal’s first-team selection was Michigan State’s first since Mary Katherine Fiebernitz in 2015. The last Spartan to earn second-team accolades was Jamie Cheslik in 2017.

“Individual recognition is often a byproduct of the team’s ability to perform and get results,” MSU head coach Jeff Hosler said. “This team has been fantastic all year and to finish in the top four of a conference this strong is really impressive.”

Kozal, a native of Ada, finished the regular season with her 48th career start, making the start for the Spartans in the net for three-straight seasons. Kozal has had a momentous career for the Spartans and only continues to improve. This season, she ranked second in the Big Ten with a goals against average of .0495, a mark which is also on track to be among single-season and career records for a Spartan goalkeeper. She has totaled 1,590 minutes in goal and has collected 75 saves, holding the highest save percentage in the Big Ten (.862). Her seven regular-season shutouts was the third-most in the conference, and she was second in saves per game with 4.41.

“I’ve been saying for weeks that I thought Kozal was the top goalkeeper in the league and to see her recognized as such is very deserving,” Hosler said. “She’s a highly skilled shot-stopper, great in traffic, and holds most things thrown at her. Beyond that, she’s an excellent leader and eager to learn.”

As a member of the Spartans, Cook led the team in the regular season in goals (7), assists (3), points (17), and game-winning goals (3). She ranks second in the Big Ten in shot attempts with 70, good for an average of 4.38 per game, and is on track to become fourth in school history in single-season shot attempts. With 27 shots on goal and 1.69 on-target shots per game, she ranks fourth in the conference.

Cook hails from Battle Creek. Michigan, and played her first four years of collegiate soccer with Grand Valley State University. She was a member of the Lakers’ 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021 GLIAC championship title teams and won a national championship with the team in 2019. She is the current active NCAA leader in goals with 82 and counting.

“Ava has been our most impactful attacker and is our leading goal-scorer and opportunity creator,” Hosler commented. “She is skilled, crafty and tough as they come. I think she has only begun to settle into this level and has some great soccer ahead of her this postseason.”

White, a native of McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, has been a guiding force for the Spartan defense throughout her career. She has started every game of her Green & White career, a current total of 66 games. White totaled 1,452 minutes on the field this regular season, the most minutes of any field player. She is part of a Spartan backfield that has allowed just 12 goals to score from opponents, the third-least in the league and 29th in the NCAA.

“The first day of preseason I asked Sam to take an integral role and lead our backline,” Hosler said. “She has done that incredibly well in all facets. Sam is a great one-on-one defender, aggressive, tough and can get to another gear that few center backs can.”

The Big Ten also recognized 13 Sportsmanship Award honorees. The students chosen are individuals who have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior. These students must also be in good academic standing and have demonstrated good citizenship outside of the sports-competition setting. Fifth-year defender Bella Jodzis earned the Sportsmanship Award for the Spartans.

“Bella is all class,” Hosler said. “She plays hard and respects the game. She came back to be a part of something bigger and she helped create that opportunity in a special way.”

Sarah Griffith of Purdue was the Big Ten’s Forward of the Year, while Rutgers swept the Midfielder, Defender, and Freshman of the Year awards which were given to Frankie Tagliaferri, Gabby Provenzano and Riley Tiernan, respectively. Scarlet Knights head coach Mike O’Neill was named the Coach of the Year.

The fourth-seeded Spartans host fifth-seeded Iowa in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament on Sunday, October 31 at 1 p.m. at DeMartin Stadium. This is the first Big Ten Tournament appearance for Michigan State women’s soccer since 2011. The Green & White boasted an undefeated non-conference season and the best conference finish since 2011 and will host a Big Ten Tournament game in East Lansing for the first time since 2002.

2021 Women’s Soccer All-Big Ten Teams

                         

All-Big Ten First Team

Forward

Sarah Griffith, Purdue

Amirah Ali, Rutgers

Riley Tiernan, Rutgers

Midfield 

Raleigh Loughman, Michigan

Sam Coffey, Penn State

Emily Mathews, Purdue

Frankie Tagliaferri, Rutgers

Defense

Alia Martin, Michigan

Kerry Abello, Penn State

Gabby Provenzano, Rutgers 

Goalkeeper

Lauren Kozal, Michigan State

All-Big Ten Second Team

Forward          

Nicki Hernandez, Michigan

Ava Cook, Michigan State

Ally Schlegel, Penn State

Midfield 

Sarah Stratigakis, Michigan

Sophia Boman, Minnesota

Becci Fluchel, Rutgers

Natalie Viggiano, Wisconsin

Defense

Sara Wheaton, Iowa

Samantha White, Michigan State

Skylurr Patrick, Purdue

Goalkeeper

Marisa Bova, Purdue

Third Team

Forward

Alyssa Walker, Iowa

Kailyn Dudukovich, Ohio State

Kayla Fischer, Ohio State

Midfield

Avery Lockwood, Indiana

Hailey Rydberg, Iowa

Reagan Raabe, Nebraska

Josie Aulicino, Northwestern

Grace Walsh, Purdue

Defense

Anna Aehling, Indiana

Aidan McConnell, Wisconsin

Macy Monticello, Wisconsin

Goalkeeper

Meagan McClelland, Rutgers

All-Big Ten Freshman Team

Forward

Sarah Weber, Nebraska

Kailyn Dudukovich, Ohio State

Riley Tiernan, Rutgers*

Midfield

Sydney Masur, Indiana

Addie Bundy, Iowa*

Avery Kalitta, Michigan

Kylie Daigle, Rutgers

Defense

Sydney Jones, Ohio State

Kassidy Banks, Rutgers

Aidan McConnell, Wisconsin

Goalkeeper

Jamie Gerstenberg, Indiana

Big Ten Sportsmanship Award Honorees

Meredith Johnson-Monfort, Illinois

Sydney Masur, Indiana

Riley Whitaker, Iowa

Alexis Hogarth, Maryland

Skylar Anderson, Michigan

Bella Jodzis, Michigan State

Megan Gray, Minnesota

Olivia Brown, Nebraska

Bailey Kolinski, Ohio State

Kerry Abello, Penn State

Skylar Giacobetti, Purdue

Shea Holland, Rutgers

Gabby Green, Wisconsin

Big Ten Forward of the Year: Sarah Griffith, Purdue

Big Ten Midfielder of the Year: Frankie Tagliaferri, Rutgers

Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year: Gabby Provenzano, Rutgers

Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year: Lauren Kozal, Michigan State

Big Ten Freshman of the Year: Riley Tiernan, Rutgers

Big Ten Coach of the Year: Mike O’Neill, Rutgers

* – Unanimous selection

 

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