College women's soccer: Returning stats leaders to watch in 2016
Strong numbers aren't the only indication of success on a soccer pitch, but that doesn't mean players won't factor them into setting their goals when the women's college soccer 2016 season kicks off this Friday.
While Penn State hopes to defend its 2015 Women's College Cup title, these returning statistic leaders in the women's game could light up box scores once again in 2016.
Savannah Jordan | Florida | Sr. Forward | 24 goals
Opposing defenses are probably glad Savannah Jordan is heading into her final college season as the senior has dominated the Gators' opponents the past three years. The reigning SEC Offensive Player of the Year finished second in Division I last season with her 24 goals and 55 points and she could easily equal if not pass those totals again in 2016.
To put the forward's career into perspective, she is only the 14th player in NCAA DI history to score 65 goals through her junior season and Jordan's 65 career goals already matches soccer legend Abby Wambach's career total at Florida.
Olivia Swenson | North Dakota | So. Keeper | 179 saves
Talk about an impressive debut. As a freshman keeper for the Fighting Hawks, Olivia Swenson started in all 18 games as a freshman and recorded a team-high 1,685 minutes of play-time in 2015. Her 179 combined saves not only led all Division I keepers but also set the North Dakota single-season record.
Swenson averaged about 9.44 saves per a game, which also led all Division I keepers, and the keeper also cut the goals against average nearly in half for North Dakota. While defenses and goalies want to limit shot generation, the Fighting Hawks are glad to have Swenson guarding the posts again this season.
Laadi Issaka | Mississippi Valley State | Jr. Midfielder | 19 assists
Mississippi Valley State topped the NCAA in six team offensive categories to become the best offensive team in Division I last season. Much of the success could be contributed to 2015 All-SWAC First Team member Laadi Issaka, who averaged 1.12 assists per game.
Issaka fed 19 assists last season to her Devilette teammates, including NCAA's leading scorer Nykosi Simmons. Prior to her time with MSVU in the SWAC, the 5-8 junior represented Ghana as a member of the 2012 and 2014 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup squads.
Casey Murphy | Rutgers | Jr. Keeper | 19 shutouts
Noted as one of the top goalies to watch this season, 2015 was no sophomore slump for Casey Murphy. The New Jersey native set the Rutgers shutout record with 19 scoreless sheets last season and nearly set a record with her .37 goals against average. Her 19 shutouts also tied for fourth overall in the NCAA record book and first among Division I keepers.
Perhaps no shutout was bigger though than her final one in a nine-round PK shootout against No. 1 Virginia in the NCAA quarterfinals, which secured the Scarlet Knights' spot in the Women's College Cup.
Ashley Herndon | James Madison | Sr. Forward | 8 game-winning goals
Ashley Herndon collected Colonial Athletic Association Preseason Player of the Year honors last week and based on her junior season it is well deserved. Herndon tallied eight game-winning goals while she helped the Dukes' to 14-7-2 record, CAA title season and spot in the NCAA tournament.
Herndon returns to Harrisonburg, Virginia after she competed this summer with the USWNT U-23 squad in the Nordic Tournament in England. The Virginia native heads into her final season for James Madison with 14 career game-winning goals and 26 overall career goals.
To first CAPs and first start...it was an unreal experience @ St… https://t.co/8ATt1bBiwj— Ashley Herndon (@ashleyherndon19) June 9, 2016
Rachel Boaz | BYU | Sr. Keeper | .907 save percentage
After transferring from San Diego State and serving a 18-month mission, Rachel Boaz had quite the outing during her first season as a Cougar. Boaz led the West Coast Conference in shutouts, goals against average, and save percentage to earn the conference's goalkeeper of the year award.
Boaz will enter her final season between the pipes as the top save percentage keeper in the country with her .907 percentage, which set the highest total ever by a BYU keeper. The California native also posted the lowest GAA in program history, giving up just .389 per contest in 21 games.