Birmingham, AL - Not many knew what to expect in Valdosta State’s inaugural soccer season, but Head Coach Mel Heinz and company have set the bar high. Arielle Sabina, Abbi Edwards and Emily Cooper were handed All-Gulf South Conference honors while Heinz was named the GSC Coach of the Year and Edwards was named the GSC Freshman of the Year.
Heinz was an overwhelming choice for Coach of the Year, as she led VSU to a GSC Tournament appearance in the first season, finishing the regular season at an impressive 11-5-1 and 5-1-1 in GSC play. The Blazers tallied nine shutouts this season, which is just one shy of North Alabama’s conference leading 10.
Gulf South Conference Freshman of the Year, Abbi Edwards, scored one goal this season, but it was a game winner. She gave out two assists for four points on the season. She rifled 22 shots on the year, placing 10 of them on goal. Throughout the season, Edwards was the pulse of the team in the middle of the field. She also earned All-GSC Second Team honors.
Valdosta State’s lone first team is defender Arielle Sabina. Sabina actually scored two goals this season, slightly uncommon for a defender, one of which was a game winner. She also gave an assist for five points on the season on just eight shots, six of which were on goal. Sabina also led the team, along with Margaret Stauffer, in corner kicks at 39 on the year.
Joining Edwards on the All-GSC Second Team was Emily Cooper. Cooper may be the most talented midfielder on the squad. She has the talent to put moves on defenders and find her way through the muck. Cooper scored one goal and gave out two assists for four points on the season on 22 shots, 11 of which were on goal.
All three Blazers started every game Valdosta State played this season. Now the trio and Heinz will lead the team against West Florida in the first round of the GSC Tournament in Pensacola, Fla. The team squares off against second seed West Florida at 2:30 p.m. Friday. If VSU wins, the team will face the winner between top seed North Alabama and last seed Alabama-Huntsville at 12 p.m. Sunday.