Nikki Elsaesser, a senior forward from Messiah College, was named the soccer nominee for the Class of 2016 Division III Honda Athlete of the Year as announced by Chris Voelz, Executive Director of THE Collegiate Women Sports Awards (CWSA) today.
She is now designated one of 11 finalists for the prestigious DIII Honda Athlete of the Year honor. This will be voted on at the end of the academic year by national balloting among 1,000 NCAA member schools as part of THE CWSA program, now in its 40th year.
“I am honored and humbled to receive this nomination,” stated Elsaesser. “I feel that much of the credit for the recognition that I am receiving this season should go back to my teammates, as I would have very honestly not had any success on the field without them by my side and their constant encouragement on and off the field! I am thankful that I was a part of a program and had a coach that pushed my every limit and never stopped encouraging the pursuit of excellence.”
Elsaesser led the Falcons this season with career-high marks in goals (31), assists (15), and points (77). The 77 points is a new program single-season record and she is one of only two Falcons to ever register a 30-goal season.
She was instrumental in helping the Falcons to their 11th Final Four in program history and she collected seven game-winners in 25 contests. The forward tallied at least one goal in 12-straight games and is just the second Falcon to collect both 40 goals and 40 assists in a career.
For her play this season, she was named the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Player of the Year, the MAC Commonwealth Offensive Player of the Year, first-team NSCAA All-Mid-Atlantic Region, and first-team NSCAA All-American.
"This is a special honor for Nikki as it recognizes not only the great season she had this past fall but also the wonderful career she had," said Messiah head coach Scott Frey. "As her coach I know the work she put into developing herself as a player in the off-season and it was fulfilling to see that work pay off for her on the field. She also grew tremendously as a leader this fall and the impact she had on the team went way beyond the goals or assists she tallied."
All sports nominees from DIII and DII become a finalist for the prestigious 2016 Honda Collegiate Athlete of the Year in their respective divisions, presented on a live telecast on June 27, 2016, in the Founders’ Room at the Galen Center on the campus of the University of Southern California in downtown Los, Angeles.
The sports nominees are recognized in 11 DIII and DII NCAA-sanctioned sports; cross country, basketball, field hockey, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis, volleyball, and track & field.
The CWSA, celebrating its 40th year, has honored the nation’s top NCAA women athletes recognizing superior athletic skills, leadership, academic excellence and eagerness to participate in community service. Since commencing its sponsorship thirty years ago in 1986, Honda has provided more than $3.0 million in institutional grants to the universities of the award winners and nominees to support women’s athletics programs at the institutions.