The Iowa Lakes Women’s Soccer team recently received awards at a year-end gathering and a team member from northwest Iowa received two awards.
Kelsey Nielsen, Spencer, ended her second year as a Laker with the Most Dedicated award and the Defensive MVP.
This was the first year of coaching the Lakers for Coach Ammon Bennett and Assistant Coach Sheena Van Roekel. Van Roekel gave the salutations on the Laker Women.
For the Most Dedicated award, Nielsen was credited with never missing a step in where the program was going and with also doing what was asked of her.
“This young woman truly is an example of dedication: playing every game and never missing a practice,” said Assistant Coach Van Roekel. “As a coaching staff, we are thankful for her dedication to the program.”
Nielsen was cited with stepping up and being a leader for the Defensive Most Valuable Player award.
“She never missed a step in the game and wanted nothing more than to know how to make things better,” Assistant Coach Van Roekel said. “She knew what it meant to show humility and was always willing to take direction.”
“She will truly be missed next season and we are thankful for her leadership on the field and especially in the defense,” she added.
The Most Improved player was Kay Simmons of Delta, Utah.
Up until this year, Simmons was used to carrying the ball on the wing. She had a ‘coachable spirit.’
“When asked to take on a new role as a defender, she never faltered in giving everything she had,” the Assistant Coach said. “She continually worked to be the best that she could and rose to the challenge of protecting the team’s home.”
The Offensive Most Valuable Player honor went to Cortnee Sanchez of Brigham City, Utah.
“Cortnee helped us on our offensive attack, many times making victims of the opposing team’s defense in the process,” Assistant Coach Van Roekel said. “Even though the officials ‘had her number,’ that never stopped her from accepting the occasional yellow card and getting back at it when she would return to the pitch.”
Sanchez led the team in points this season allowing the offense to be a successful.
“When asked to change her tactics or direction on the field, she was willing to play in the central as well as up top. Her coach-able spirit made her a joy to coach,” added Assistant Coach Van Roekel.
Brittney Valentine of Layton, Utah, was honored with the Overall Most Valuable Player for her play on the field and hardworking spirit.
“There were a lot of demands put upon (Brittney) and we never heard her complain. She offered us support on the wing as well as up top for scoring opportunities, but she was never afraid to run back to support the defense,” Assistant Coach Van Roekel said.
When asked to complete certain tasks, even through injuries, she would push through it and help her teammates.
“Upon learning she could be a play maker from the sidelines, she would launch the ball as far as she could despite how it wore on her back. As a player who was willing to sacrifice herself physically, taking direction and criticism when needed, she always gave her best,” the Assistant Coach added.
The Laker Women selected Natasha Lichfield of Corinne, Utah, to receive the Players Award.
“Coming into this season, she had a lot on the line but was willing to work her way back into the game,” Assistant Coach Van Roekel said. “Upon going to our first tournament as a team, she was unfortunately side-lined from the game quicker than anticipated and never failed to support her teammates.”
Upon learning she would need surgery, she faced physical and emotional battles.
“Through it all, she never stopped working when she was allowed to return to practice, with the support of her brace. She believed that she needed to continue to work hard, not only for herself, but for her teammates,” according to Assistant Coach Van Roekel.
“Having been out of the game for awhile was never an excuse for her to step out for a breather,” she added.
Jill Brockbank of West Jordan, Utah, was the recipient of the Coaches Award.
“This individual is an example of what we coaches look for in a player. Her work ethic and passion for the game exemplifies what a soccer player should be,” Assistant Coach Van Roekel said.
Unfortunately, from the moment she arrived, she had the worst luck with injuries.
“But despite it all, she always said she was ready to play no matter how painful it was to run, let alone walk,” she added. “As the season progressed, an unavoidable injury occurred that caused her to be somewhat side-lined. She would inevitably be upset with us or the athletic training staff for telling her to sit.”
“She has earned our respect through her spirit, hard work, passion and even pain tolerance,” said Assistant Coach Van Roekel.
This was only the second year of play for the Women’s squad – and it was a winning season. The Laker Women ended with an overall record of 10 wins, seven losses and two ties. They were 5-3-1 in Conference play.
Anyone wishing to learn more about the Iowa Lakes Soccer program may contact either Coach Ammon Bennett at 712-580-8609 or Assistant Coach Van Roekel at 712-580-8640.