Photo courtesy UNC
No, this isn’t the Hermann Trophy (that will be awarded Jan. 8 in case you were wondering and Whitney Engen isn’t one of the three finalists).
This is the Honda Sports Award in soccer. The awards are given annually to the top women athletes in 12 NCAA-sanctioned sports based on the results of national balloting among 1,000 member schools.
The UNC defender beat out fellow Tar Heel Tobin Heath, UCLA’s Lauren Cheney and Stanford striker Kelley O’Hara, all of whom are finalists for the Hermann.
“To end our season with a (national) championship and then win the Honda Sports Award is beyond my wildest dreams. I was really shocked when I heard the news, especially being up against my teammate Tobin whom I admire greatly, as well as the other phenomenal nominees.”
Engen is a converted striker who UNC Coach Anson Dorrance now uses in his flat back three defensive scheme.
From the Honda press release:
She was named this year’s NCAA Women’s College Cup MVP on Defense after helping her team to its third national championship in the past four years. She was also named Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year on a team that allowed just 12 goals and had 19 shutouts.
Past award recipients include Kristine Lilly and Mia Hamm.