The pool of worthy nominees for our Young Female U-23 Player of the Year award is the deepest of any FiftyFive.One has compiled this year. Our staff picked out no less than 11 individuals who showed well in 2016. That number had to be whittled down, difficult as that was, to give you our list of our top U-23 players from the past calendar year.
This Wayzata native finished her senior season on a high note, with Washington University winning an NCAA D3 Championship title. The senior goalkeeper was awarded 2016 NSCAA NCAA Division III Women’s Soccer National Player of the Year honors. Crist started 23 games in goal and recorded a 19-1-2 mark with a WashU single-season school record 0.29 goals-against average. She also set the single-season school record with 13 shutouts, and tied the win total. Crist led the University Athletic Association (UAA) and ranked fifth in NCAA Division III in goals allowed (6) and goals against average. The senior was also named the 2016 NSCAA Scholar Player of the Year and was a 2016 College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) First-Team Academic All-America selection. She owns a 3.87 GPA and is majoring in biomedical engineering.
The Gophers’ starting goalkeeper, Hobbs, left her mark on the U of M and the BigTen. After adding 11 shut-outs to her record, she leaves the U with the career program record of 33. She was twice named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week and was named to the All-Big Ten Second Team. Hobbs was ranked No. 19 in TopDrawerSoccer’s Big Ten Conference Top 20.
Forward and co-caption Simone Kolander started getting attention before the season started by being named to MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List. She finished the season by leading the Gophers in the rankings at No. 20. Kolander scored 11 goals and added six assists, earning the Big Ten Forward of the Year honors for the second year in a row. The senior was named to the All-Big Ten First Team and was selected to the All-Great Lakes First Team. She was also named a First Team Senior CLASS Award All-American, reflecting her accomplishments on the field, in the classroom, and in the community.
The Oakdale, Minn. resident who attends Tartan High School had previously made an appearance for the US U-17s in 2015. After continuing to play for the Minnesota Thunder Academy she made a late run to make the roster of the US U-17 World Cup team. There, Richardson made appearances against Brazil during two friendly matches in August of 2016, and scored her first goal for the US U-17s in a 5-1 victory over Venezuela.
This former NSCAA Minnesota Player of the Year and Ms. Soccer finalist has had a productive career as a Wisconsin Badger. This year, as a senior, Schwarz started in all 22 matches for Wisconsin. That run extended her games-started streak to 82-matches — the most by any active Badger. The defender tallied her second career assist at Purdue this year, and logged the third-most minutes on her team with 1,984 on the season..