Northwestern State veterans front-load all-conference preseason selections

By Aaron Ferguson, Sports Information Graduate Assistant

After finishing tied for second in the Southland Conference, the Northwestern State soccer team has built an accolade-worthy roster.

NSU garnered six preseason all-conference selections, second most among Southland institutions Monday as the league announced the Ready® 2021 Southland Conference preseason soccer team.

The Lady Demons landed five first-team selections, tying Southeastern Louisiana for most first-team picks on the 2021 All-Conference roster.

Four of NSU’s selections were automatic picks after Acelya Aydogmus, Nicole Henry, Hallie Field, and Olivia Draguicevich made the 2020 SLC All-Conference team. League coaches, who picked the preseason teams, added Kalee Williams and Natalee Henry as preseason additions. Natalee Henry is a second-team defender with NSU’s remaining picks being first-team selections.

Aydogmus, Field, and twins Nicole and Natalee Henry return from an NSU defense which broke multiple program records in 2020.

Each played a vital role on an NSU defense that allowed a program record six goals. The team also recorded a program-best nine shutouts, logging the 15th-best shutout percentage in the nation (.643).

NSU’s prized All-Louisiana goalkeeper Aydogmus set an NSU single-season record with nine shutouts in a shortened 2020 season. The 2020 Southland Conference Goalkeeper of the Year and three-time conference Goalkeeper of the Week is five shutouts from breaking NSU’s career mark of 19.

Nicole Henry, who earned her second consecutive Southland Conference Defender of the Year award and All-Louisiana selection, once again found herself among those chosen for first-team preseason honors. Along with her standout defensive campaign in 2020, Henry is the only SLC player ever to earn multiple Defensive Player of the Year in multiple seasons.

Natalee Henry notched her second-straight conference preseason selection after earning an All-Conference spot in 2019. She earned a start as a defender in 33 of 36 games she played in her last two season.

Field earned her second-straight preseason distinction as a middle back defender after being a two-time All-Conference player for the Lady Demons. Field totaled 1,180 minutes of play time in 2020, recording the second-most minutes on the field for the Lady Demon roster.

Junior forward Draguicevich aims to elevate her high-water mark following a strong offensive showing in 2020. Draguicevich, having served as the team’s leading scorer each of the past two seasons, tallied a team-high 11 goals in that span, including one two-goal outing at Central Arkansas in 2020.

Williams, earning her first all-conference selection, found an offensive rhythm through the early stages of the 2020 season. Helping lead the charge on an early six-match winning streak for NSU, Williams scored four goals in the first four games, including one two-goal match against ULM. Williams also recorded a team-high three assists.

NSU opens its 2021 season with an exhibition match on Aug. 14 at 3 p.m. at Little Rock. Non-conference play begins at Oral Roberts on Aug. 19, and the Lady Demons open their home schedule Sept. 1 against Louisiana Tech.

Photo:  Six Lady Demons garner preseason All-Conference recognition.

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