Ogden, Utah – Eastern Washington University Women's Soccer sophomore Chloe Williams has been named the Big Sky Conference's Offensive MVP while four other Eagles earned all-conference honors, as announced by the league office Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Williams' award is another first for Eastern in a season full of them, as the program had never had a Big Sky Offensive MVP in its 18-year history.
"I'm extremely excited for Chloe to receive this honor, and I think everyone in our group would agree she is deserving," said EWU head coach Chad Bodnar. "She has had a great year for us, both as a player and leader. What she's done this year is extremely impressive, considering she's in her second year in the Big Sky and our opponents know all about her abilities. She has done whatever we've asked of her, whether that's playing as an out-and-out striker or underneath other front-runners.
"I credit our strength and conditioning coaches as we've seen Chloe get much stronger and faster over the course of one season," Bodnar continued. "Her strength and fitness improvements have helped her become not only a crafty goal scorer, but someone that can run by people and explode to goal. Chloe is the kind of player who loves to train and play the game, and she has been a huge part of our program's success in the two seasons she has been here."
A First Team All-Big Sky honoree a season ago, Williams finished the regular season with 11 goals, tying the program record for goals in a single season. She added seven assists for a total of 29 points, both of which are new single-season program records. Her 11 goals ranked third in the Big Sky and 39th nationally while her 29 points ranked second in the conference and 55th nationally.
Hoekstra, who earned Honorable Mention All-Big Sky accolades last year, collected the second all-conference award of her career while Hayes, Rennaker and Chavez are respective first-time honorees.
"We're very proud of our group of players who were selected to all-conference teams this season," Bodnar said. "I believe our whole team is responsible for the success we've had this year, and these all-conference players are just a part of an entire group of players who have worked extremely hard. We talk about being a whole functioning group and not individuals, so I credit our staff and the rest of the team who are a part of these awards.
"Laci and M'Kenna have played nearly every minute of the season and have been great in the back for us. Jenny has been a big-time ball winner for us in the midfield and scored some key goals throughout the season. Savannah has been outstanding over the last part of the season and has shown an incredible work rate and commitment to not only getting forward but also helping us defend."
Hayes started every regular season match for the Eagles this season, playing all but 46 of a possible 1,736 minutes as part of EWU's back four. Rennaker also started all 18 regular season matches for Eastern, missing just 16 total minutes as one of the Eagles' central defenders. The duo helped EWU record a pair of shutouts in Big Sky play while limiting five other league foes to a single goal.
Chavez became a fixture in Eastern's midfield midway through nonconference play and continued her stellar form into the conference season, finishing the regular season with 15 starts. All four of her goals came against Big Sky opponents, while her strike against Weber State on Sept. 25 proved to be the game-winner.
Hoekstra started 15 of EWU's 18 matches, recording a pair of goals while dishing out five assists, tied for sixth-most among Big Sky players. Both of her goals came in just 35 minutes against Sacramento State on Oct. 2, while she assisted on Eastern's game-winning goals against Northern Arizona on Oct. 16.
The Eagles' five all-conference award winners have been part of a record-breaking season in Cheney that has seen Eastern set new program records for overall victories (12), Big Sky wins (6) and consecutive matches won (8). EWU is also back in the Big Sky Tournament for the second straight season, marking the first time since the 2004 and 2005 seasons that Eastern has qualified for back-to-back conference tournaments.
"The great part for me when we look at our all-conference selections is that these players are all freshmen and sophomores," noted Bodnar. "We get the opportunity to continue to work hard this offseason and try to build off the season we've had this year. I'm excited to see these players and our whole group head into the conference tournament with the understanding that we still have a lot to play for this year."
EWU earned the No. 3 seed in this season's league tournament and will face No. 6 Sacramento State in a quarterfinal match this Thursday, Nov. 5, in Moscow, Idaho.
2015 Big Sky Conference Award Winners
Offensive MVP - Chloe Williams, Eastern Washington
Defensive MVP - Adrienne Jordan, Northern Colorado *
Goalkeeper of the Year - Amanda Poertner, Idaho
Top Newcomer - Mariel Gutierrez - Northern Colorado
* - Two-time selection
2015 First Team All-Big Sky
Goalkeeper - Amanda Poertner, Idaho
Defenders - Adrienne Jordan, Northern Colorado; Tess Brenneman, Montana; Amanda Pease, Idaho; Josilyn Daggs, Idaho
Midfielders - Chloe Williams, Eastern Washington; Chansi Crompton, Weber State; Mariel Gutierrez, Northern Colorado; Alyssa Lloyd, Idaho
Forwards - Maria Sanchez, Idaho State; Kavita Battan, Idaho; Haley Wingender, Northern Arizona
2015 Second Team All-Big Sky
Goalkeeper - Kailey Norman, Montana
Defenders - Madeline Chase, Northern Colorado; M'Kenna Hayes, Eastern Washington; Brecken Holbrook, Weber State; Laci Rennaker, Eastern Washington
Midfielders - Makenzie Akins, Montana; Jenny Chavez, Eastern Washington; Olivia Baggerly, Idaho; Clara Gomez, Idaho
Forwards - Makenzie Harrison, Weber State; Savannah Hoekstra, Eastern Washington; Kayla Collins, Sacramento State
2015 Honorable Mention All-Big Sky
Goalkeepers - Angela Haluska, Portland State; Olivia Swenson, North Dakota
Defenders - Kellyn Ashby, Weber State; Torey Braly, Northern Arizona; Kelly Dopke, Idaho; Katie Forsee, Portland State; Ashlee Pederson, Montana; Regan Smithers, Sacramento State
Midfielders - Aurora Bodenhamer, Portland State; Cierra Gamble, Northern Arizona; Kassy Castillo, Northern Colorado; Abbie Flandro, Southern Utah; Jen Lum, Sacramento State; Emily Wadell, Northern Arizona
Forwards - Ally Thimsen, Southern Utah; Brooke Braden, Northern Colorado; Stacy Bair, Weber State