INDIANAPOLIS – The Crossroads League named Spring Arbor University's Bethany Balcer as its 2016-2017 Female Student-Athlete of the Year on Wednesday, honoring the two-time NAIA Women's Soccer All-American with the prestigious award for the second time in as many years to begin her collegiate career.
Balcer became the first repeat winner of the award after helping Spring Arbor to a 22-1-1 clip on the pitch and a second-straight appearance in the NAIA National Championship Finals. SAU's NAIA National Championship Runner-Up finish in 2016 followed the program's first-ever NAIA National Championship during Balcer's freshman season.
In addition to being selected as an NAIA First-Team All-American for the second year in a row, Balcer also repeated as the Crossroads League Player of the Year and was named First-Team All-Crossroads League. Balcer also excelled in the classroom, earning CoSIDA Academic All-America honors during her sophomore season.
"Bethany is an amazing natural talent who has worked very diligently to shape herself into an elite soccer player," said head coach Jason Crist. "She not only has the ability to take over games individually, but is outstanding at making those around her better, as is evidenced by her stats. Beth is very humble and is not motivated by awards or accolades."
Crist added, "As driven as she is as a player, Bethany's heart's desire is to chase Jesus Christ and honor God with her abilities. In her own words, 'Christ follower first, soccer player second.' Bethany knows her 'Why' and lives it. That's what makes her so special. It's a joy and an honor to coach her."
Balcer racked up 74 points on 31 goals and 12 assists in 24 matches during her dominant 2016 campaign. Those numbers ranked the midfielder No. 2 in the NAIA in points, No. 4 in goals and No. 9 in assists this past season and boosted Balcer's career totals to 61 goals, 25 assists and 147 points in her first 50 collegiate outings. The 74 points and 31 goals in 2016 set new SAU single-season records, while the 61 career goals put Balcer No. 2 on the program's all-time lists.
In her two years at Spring Arbor, Balcer has helped the Cougars to an NAIA National Championship, an overall record of 45-3-2, a 17-0-1 mark in Crossroads League play and a 9-1 showing at the NAIA National Championships.
Crossroads League Female Student-Athlete of the Year Recipients
2011-2012 – Kelsey Pritchard, Taylor (volleyball)
2012-2013 – Paige Smith, Indiana Wesleyan (basketball)
2013-2014 – Geandra Almeida, Bethel (golf)
2014-2015 – Alex Berends, Taylor (cross country/track and field)
2015-2016 – Bethany Balcer, Spring Arbor (soccer)
2016-2017 – Bethany Balcer, Spring Arbor (soccer)