KANSAS CITY, Mo. – NAIA Women’s Soccer National Champion Head Coach Danny Owens was named the Select Sport America-NAIA Coach of the Year for 2018, the association announced on Thursday. Owens guided William Carey (Miss.) to its first national title on December 2, 2018 with a 1-0 win over Keiser (Fla.) in the title game of the 2018 NAIA Women’s Soccer National Championship. The announcement occurred at the annual United Soccer Coaches’ National Convention in Chicago.
Owens led the Lady Crusaders to a 21-3 mark in 2018 including an 11-game win streak from Sept. 13 through Oct. 27, 2018. Led by four NAIA All-Americans (Ana Paula Santos, April Stewart, Abby Baravik and Shantell Thompson), the team from Hattiesburg, Miss., dominated play through the national championship, beginning with a 6-2 win over Missouri Baptist in the NAIA National Championship Opening Round.
After arriving in Orange Beach, Ala., at the national championship final site, Owens’ squad continued its trajectory with a pair of shutouts over Eastern Oregon and Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) in order to get to the semifinal round. It was the Lady Crusaders who went on to defeat the big offense of Southeastern (Fla.) 4-2 before posting the lone goal that Keiser (Fla.) allowed in the title game, one of two overall at the final site. It was that goal that was the difference.
The Lady Crusaders were ranked No. 3 in the nation in total goals with 90 on the year as leading scorer Ana Paula Santos went on to be named the 2018 NAIA National Championship Most Valuable Player and earned first team All-America honors.
The back line shined throughout the year as well. Defender April Stewart was named the 2018 NAIA National Championship Outstanding Defensive Player of the Year along with first team All-America.
The 2018 Select Sport America-NAIA National Coach of the Year is voted on by the NAIA-Women’s Soccer Coaches Association and is announced at the annual National Convention. To be eligible, a head coach must be selected as their conference or unaffiliated group coach of the year or lead their team to the NAIA Women’s Soccer National Championship postseason play.