KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) announced the 2018 Women’s Soccer All-America Teams as well as the player of the year. The winners were chosen by the NAIA All-America Committee.
Midland University saw four players earn recognition after their historic run to the National Championship Quarterfinals. The Warriors honorees are headlined by Rachel Thigpen’s First Team selection at goal keeper. She becomes the first player in the history of Midland as well as the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) to be selected as a First Team All-American.
Joining her on the teams released on Tuesday afternoon include Second Team Forward Nayeli Rodriguez, Third Team Defender Alaina Melanson, and Honorable Mention Midfielder PT Perez.
Rachel Thigpen had a breakout year for the Lady Warriors, as she was named the Hauff Mid-America Sports/GPAC Defensive Player of the Year. She followed that up with a great showing at the final site of the NAIA Women’s Soccer Championship Tournament in Orange Beach, Alabama. Thigpen had a standout performance in the team’s penalty kick shootout against Martin Methodist in the round of 16. Saving three penalty kicks in a row, all but securing her team a spot in the quarterfinals. Along with the Midland defense, she set a new school record with 14 shutouts on the season.
Head Coach Greg Jarosik had this to say his sure handed goalie, “Rachel has been outstanding all year for us in goal. To be named GPAC Defensive Player of the year and to follow that up with being recognized as a First Team All-American is outstanding. I am proud of Rachel and look forward to the next two years with her.”
Nayeli Rodriguez continued to showcase her play in the Midland attack. Earlier this year she was named the Hauff Mid-America Sports/GPAC Offensive Player of the Year. She scored a team-high 16 goals this year, adding to her school record goals mark that now sits a 53 goals.
“Nayeli has rewritten the record books here at Midland owning all but one individual attacking record at Midland,” said Coach Jarosik. “Being named GPAC Offensive Player of the Year this year was great but being recognized as a Second Team All American is a wonderful achievement. I am excited to see what she does in her senior year”
Alaina Melanson was a key part of a dominate Warriors’ defense that went a span of 816 minutes this season without allowing a goal and shutout 14 opponents. Melanson was a First Team All-GPAC selection each of the past two years.
“Alaina has been a rock the last three years on our back line,” commented Coach Jarosik. “She is a very smart defender and is such a good ball winner. I was very happy to see her recognized as a Third Team All-American this year. It is very deserving for her.”
PT Perez earns her second All-American recognition as she was named an honorable mention as well in 2017. She has been a solid contributor the past three years in the midfield and attack for the Lady Warriors. She was also named First Team All-GPAC once again this season, her third straight appearance. She was second on the team this year with 15 goals scored, including 7 game-winners.
“For the second year in a row PT has been and named Honorable Mention All American,” Coach Jarosik added. “She was the GPAC player of the year in 2017 and followed it up with a very impressive year this year. I look forward to PT’s final season at Midland next year”
To view the entire list of the 2018 NAIA All-Americans, click here.