The Murray State Racers had a banner night when they had five players receive postseason honors when the Ohio Valley Conference held its women's soccer awards banquet in Murray, Kentucky.
Racer junior Harriet Withers
was named OVC Offensive Player of the Year, while she was joined on the All-OVC First Team by teammate Ali Critcher
. Taylor Richerson
and Nyomi Devine
each received All-OVC Second Team honors, while Karsyn Hasch
was named to the All-OVC Newcomer Team.
The five Racer All-OVC picks matches the five they had a year ago and Withers and Richerson are the Racers' 22nd
all-time All-OVC First Team selections in the 17 seasons of the MSU program.
The Racers have won back-to-back OVC regular season titles and Friday begin play at the OVC Tournament at Cutchin Field. The Racers hosted and won the tournament in 2015.
Harriet Withers – Jr., F, Murwillumbah, Australia
OVC Offensive Player of the Year & All-OVC First Team
Selected as the top offensive player in 2016, this marks the second-straight year that Withers has been so honored. She is the only Racer to be named to the award since the program was started in 2000. She was fourth in the OVC in points with 18 in seven goals and four assists, all the while being the main target of opponent's defensive game plans.
Withers, only a junior, has 24 career goals at MSU and is third all-time in MSU program history. As the Racers head into this weekend's OVC Tournament, she is 10 goals away from Theresa Reedy's top mark of 34 goals from 2001-04.
"Harriet has had a great season and she got off to a very good start," said MSU coach Jeremy Groves
who now has 14 All-OVC selections in his three seasons with the Racers. "Every game, the opponent was trying to stop her and she was no secret to the opponent any longer. But she came up big when we needed her to. She's also become a better defender as well."
Ali Critcher – Sr., D, Edgewood, Ky.
All-OVC First Team
Anchoring the top defense in the OVC, Critcher showed more offensive capabilities as a senior than she did prior. She scored her first two goals of her three-year MSU career as a senior. She scored in back-to-back wins against Tennessee Tech and Eastern Kentucky and added a pair of assists in helping the Racers to a second-straight OVC championship. Critcher helped the Racers keep the heat off of goalkeeper Alex Steigerwald
(All-OVC a year ago) with a goals-against-average in OVC play of 0.56, which was second in the league.
"Ali has been fantastic for us all year," Groves said. "I've been really happy at how her leadership qualities developed in her senior season. Even with being a mainstay in the back, she popped up and scored a couple of goals for us. She was a striker before she moved to defense and it showed this season."
Taylor Richerson – Sr., F, Murray, Ky.
All-OVC Second Team
A year after leading the Racers to a perfect 10-0 OVC season, Richerson came on strong this season in OVC play as she scored five times with two assists to rank second in OVC matches with 12 points. Overcoming an early-season injury, she gained full strength in time to push the Racers to a second-straight OVC championship.
"Taylor had a rough year at the start because she was riddled with injuries," Groves said. "It wasn't really until the Morehead game that her fitness got to where it needed to be. And now her fitness is really showing and the last couple of weeks she had huge goals for us in the EKU and JSU wins."
Nyomi Devine – Jr., D, Beaudesert, Australia
All-OVC Second Team
One of the big reasons the Racers were able to record six shutouts in 10 OVC games, Devine was the quarterback of the MSU defense this season. The Racers were third in the OVC in goals-against-average of 0.60. Many have remarked about the comfort Devine supplies when she's patrolling the Racers' defensive zone. Devine seems to always be in the right place at the right time. The voters for All-OVC certainly agreed.
"She's been a part of our leadership group for the last two seasons and she's just a hard-working kid," Groves said. "Honestly, she probably doesn't get the recognition she deserves because she's always back there cleaning things up for us. If you had to pick one that displayed the ideals you want for your program, Nyomi is the one. She always works hard, has a great attitude and just gets on with it."
Karsyn Hasch – Fr., D, Temecula, Calif.
All-OVC Newcomer Team
Part of a talented group of freshmen that gave the Racers great depth this season, Hasch was a starter on defense from the start. She proved to be tough and decisive in helping the Racers go through 10 OVC matches without a loss. With her help on the back line, the Racers only gave up six goals in OVC play.
"I am very proud of Karsyn," Groves said. "She had played at a high level prior to coming to Murray State and she fit in very well with what we were trying to do on the defensive end. She has a bright future ahead of her in our program."