DURHAM, N.C.- The Duke women’s soccer team held its annual team banquet Friday evening to officially wrap up the very successful 2016 campaign, which saw the Blue Devils advance to the NCAA quarterfinals under the direction of head coach Robbie Church.
A total of six awards were given out on the evening including Newcomer of the Year, Most Inspirational Player, Coaches Award, Most Outstanding Offensive Player, Most Outstanding Defensive Player and Most Valuable Player. All awards except for the Coaches Award were voted on by the student-athletes.
Senior Christina Gibbons was presented with the Most Valuable Player award for the third straight season, after collecting four goals, a team-high eight assists and 16 points. She started all 23 matches playing on the defensive and offensive ends. Gibbons, who hails from Raleigh, N.C., registered a team-best three penalty kick goals on the year. She earned NSCAA First Team All-America, All-ACC First Team and was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
Gibbons was also selected the Most Inspirational Player, spearheading one of the best defensive units in the nation. The squad collected a total of 11 shutouts on the season. Gibbons was taken with the No. 5 overall selection in the NWSL College Draft by FC Kansas City.
Named the Most Outstanding Offensive Player for the third consecutive year was senior Toni Payne, after posting a career-best nine goals, six assists and 24 points for the Blue Devils. The Birmingham, Ala., native notched three of her nine goals in the postseason. Payne was an All-ACC First Team selection. She recently signed a professional contract with Ajax, which is a Dutch squad based in Amsterdam.
Senior Lizzy Raben received the Most Outstanding Defensive Player as she spearheaded a defensive group that ranked third in the ACC with 11 shutouts. Raben, who is from Greenwood Village, Colo., started all 23 games at center back and competed in 1,812 minutes in her final season. She signed a professional contract recently with AC Sparta Praha in Czech Republic.
Earning the Newcomer of the Year award was rookie Ella Stevens. The Grayson, Ga., product made an immediate impact with the Blue Devils notching a team-high 10 goals to go along with six assists and a team-best 26 points. Her 10 goals ranked tied second on Duke’s freshman record charts, while her 26 points was fourth.
The duo of Krysia Sikora and Kayla McCoy were presented with the Coaches Award. Sikora competed in 15 matches and made one start as she totaled one goal and one assist for three points in 2016. McCoy notched four goals over the first nine matches, before being sidelined with an injury for the remainder of the season.
As a team, Duke posted a 15-5-3 overall record and advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals before falling to top-seeded West Virginia, 1-0. The Blue Devils notched a 7-2-1 ACC mark, which were the second-most league victories under Church’s leadership.
MVP - Christina Gibbons
Most Outstanding Defensive Player - Lizzy Raben
Most Outstanding Offensive Player - Toni Payne
Newcomer of the Year - Ella Stevens
Most Inspirational Player - Christina Gibbons
Coaches Award: Krysia Sikora & Kayla McCoy