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Spencer Parlier | NCAA.com | October 23, 2019

5 women's soccer MAC Hermann Trophy contenders to keep an eye on

Check out the top plays from women's soccer

The MAC Hermann Trophy is awarded every year after the collegiate soccer season is over to the top men's and women's players.
 
The process begins when preseason watch-lists are announced prior to the start of the season. Those lists are winnowed down to 15 semi-finalists who are chosen in mid-November. After the season concludes three finalists are chosen, and the MAC Hermann Trophy winner is chosen in January of the following year.
 
Last year, Stanford sophomore Catarina Macario won the award for women's soccer, and Indiana senior Andrew Gutman won on the men's side.
 
With the women's college soccer season at the halfway point, there are many players who could be potential winners of the MAC Hermann award. But let's take a look at five who have had strong seasons, and have led their teams to success so far this year.

Catarina Macario, Junior, Forward - Stanford 

Missouri Athletic Club Catarina Macario MAC Hermann trophy winner in 2018 Macario (left) after winning the 2018 MAC Hermann Trophy

Last season, when the Stanford star won the MAC Hermann trophy, Macario scored 14 goals and put up eight assists while finishing the season with 36 points. This year, the junior forward has already blown those numbers out of the water.

Macario has scored 18 goals and clocked 10 assists, pushing her point total to 46 on the season. Those numbers would put any player in contention for college soccer's top prize, let alone the defending winner.

She has been the best player on one of the best team's in the country, as Stanford sits at No. 2 in the nation in the latest United Soccer Coaches rankings with a 13-1 record. The Cardinal's lone loss came early in the season versus Pepperdine.

Macario is in a prime position to repeat as the MAC Hermann Trophy winner, as she has solidified herself as the premier offensive player in women's soccer. She leads the entire country in total goals scored, goals per game and total points.

Macario is also tied for first in the NCAA in game-winning goals, and has helped Stanford become the top offensive team in the country.

The Cardinal have a goals per game average of 3.64, just ahead of the second-place team, BYU, that has an average of 3.57.

Macario would join an elite club of women's college soccer players if she were to win the MAC Hermann trophy this year, as the only players to win back-to-back MAC Hermann Trophys are Mia Hamm, Cindy Parlow, Christine Sinclair and Morgan Brian.

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Elise Flake, Senior, Forward - BYU 

BYU is one of two undefeated teams left in women's college soccer this season, and if it weren't for a 2-2 draw against Santa Clara on Oct. 5, they would be perfect without any losses or ties.

The Cougars sit at 13-0-1 on the season and are ranked No. 4 in the most recent United Soccer Coaches poll. Their success has been a team effort, but it would be a lot harder for BYU to be where it's at now if it weren't for their sensational senior forward Elise Flake.

Flake leads BYU in goals (13) and points (29), while also clocking in with three assists on the season. Although Flake doesn't top the charts in goals or assists across DI women's soccer, she has been an integral part to the Cougars' success.

Leading the BYU offense at this point is an undefeated season, Flake has demonstrated why her senior season is deserving of a look from the MAC Hermann committee.

BYU's remaining regular season leaves three matches left, all against unranked teams: Saint Mary's, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, Gonzaga and Loyola Marymount. If the Cougars can get to the NCAA tournament undefeated, they'll be in a prime position to make a run to the College Cup, as they'll have home field advantage throughout the early-rounds of the tournament.

If they were to get to the College Cup, it will have to come through their offense (which boasts the second most goals per game average in the country at 3.57), their veterans and, of course, their leader up top Elise Flake.

Emily Fox, Sophomore, Midfielder/Defender - North Carolina

North Carolina Athletics Emily Fox North Carolina women's soccer North Carolina's coach, Anson Dorrance said Emily Fox is one of the fastest players on the team this year

Emily Fox is one of the most versatile players in the country right now. But don't take my word for it, take the word of the greatest coach in women's soccer history, North Carolina's Anson Dorrance.
 
"Emily has a wonderful technical quality.  She has a good tactical game.  She also has the versatility to play in the back if we need her and in the flank midfield in a 3-4-3 formation if that’s the system we decide to go to," Coach Dorrance said on Fox's ability to get up and down the field. "She can be a game changer for us on the right side the way Julia Ashley was for us at the right back position last fall."

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Although Fox hasn't stuffed the stat sheet like the others on this list (Fox currently has no goals and five assists on the year), history tells us that she doesn't have to to win women's college soccer's most prestigious prize.

Take a look at Kadeisha Buchanan, former center back for West Virginia and the 2016 MAC Hermann Trophy winner. Buchanan only had three goals and three assists in the 2016 season, but she lead West Virginia to a 23-2-2 season that included 18 shutouts.

Fox is well on her way to this accomplishment, as the Carolina defender/midfielder can be found using her elite speed to chase down flanking wingers, stopping attacks on a regular basis and leading the Tar Heels to another shutout (they currently have 12 on the year).

She was ranked the fourth-best player on Top Drawer Soccer's midseason top 100 list, and could be sleeper to win the MAC Hermann Trophy this year. Keep an eye on Emily Fox, she's hard to miss on the pitch.

Jimena Lopez, Junior, Defender - Texas A&M

Jimena Lopez has been one of the best offensively-minded defenders in women's college soccer this year. The Texas A&M junior leads her team in points with 28 (tied for first in the SEC), including eight goals and 12 assists (tied for first in the nation).

Her balanced performance throughout the year has led the Aggies to a 10-3-3 season thus far. They sit tied for fourth in the SEC standings, and are the fourth-highest ranked SEC team in the national rankings clocking in at No. 22, behind No. 8 South Carolina and No. 6 Arkansas, No. 20 Florida.

Between her ability to score, distribute the ball and get up and down the field to contribute on offense and defense, Lopez is harnessing the abilities of two players already on this list -- Emily Fox and Catarina Macario.

Lopez's stats reflect those of Macario's just a year ago, with a little more focus on creating opportunities for her teammates instead of scoring.
 
Her resume is impressive, as she not only has several years of experience at the college level, she is also a seasoned veteran on the international scene. Representing her home country of Mexico, Lopez was a participant in the U20 2018 World Cup and the 2019 Pan American games. In 2018, she was named as the 2018 Gold Cup's top left-back as she represented the U20 Mexican team. Her debut with the senior Mexican national team came in 2019.
 
Lopez is a team player who has loads of experience on and off the college stage, as her balance, versatility and impressive stat-lines can help her compete for a MAC Hermann trophy this season.

Laurel Ivory, Junior, Goalkeeper - Virginia 

Virginia Athletics Laurel Ivory Virginia women's soccer Virginia will be relying on their backbone, Laurel Ivory to get them through the regular season undefeated

Virginia has been taking women's college soccer by storm this season. The 12-0-3 Hoos are one of two undefeated teams left in the country, and have made camp at the No. 1 spot in the country for six straight weeks.

It would be easy to point to UVA's dynamic offense with Diana Ordonez, Meghan McCool and Alexa Spaanstra leading the Cavs up front. But don't sleep on the wall of a goalie they have in the back.

Laurel Ivory currently boasts the highest goals-against-average in the ACC with .222, a mark that puts her second in the entire NCAA. She also has only allowed three goals¬†all year, with a save percentage of .864 ‚ÄĒ second highest in the ACC.

Ivory has been at her best recently, as one of her six clean sheets in ACC play came against defending national champion Florida State when Virginia knocked off the Seminoles 1-0.

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UVA will look to their leader in the back with the regular season coming to an end, as the Hoos will want to remain unbeaten on the year and solidify themselves as one of the top-seeds in the ACC and NCAA tournament. 

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