Couperus, Elsbrock and Smith Receive AAC Honors

Nov. 7, 2013

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AAC Release

Three University of Cincinnati women’s soccer players received American Athletic Conference accolades for the 2013 season, the league announced Thursday. Senior Emily Elsbrock was voted Second Team All-AAC, while freshman Katy Couperus and redshirt freshman Natalie Smith were listed on the All-Rookie Team.

“We are really proud that the team did well enough for Emily, Katy and Natalie to be recognized individually by the conference,” said head coach Neil Stafford. “Their abilities contributed quite a lot to the building of the program this fall.”

Elsbrock finished tied for the team lead in goals with five and tallied nine points in league play. The senior forward came up big late in the conference season as she tallied four goals in the final five matches of the regular season. The Cincinnati native is UC’s first all-conference performer since Kristin May was named to the second team in 2008. Elsbrock was named AAC Offensive Player of the Week on Oct. 14 after scoring a pair of goals in the weekend matchups with UCF and USF.

“Emily came back for preseason in such great shape mentally & physically,” Stafford said. “She did a wonderful job playing to her strengths and became a handful for other teams to deal with.”

Couperus led the team in points (16) and tied Elsbrock in goals (five). The freshman thrived in AAC action as she recorded five goals, which tied for fourth in the conference, and two assists for a total of 12 points, which tied for fifth in the league.

“Katy is a huge talent and has come into her own over the last few months,” said Stafford. “She is so good on the ball and sees the game much faster than others. Her competitiveness, drive and skills will make her a huge asset to this program moving forward.”

Smith played in all nine league matches and posted a 4-3-1 record. The redshirt freshman garnered 53 saves and had a saves per game average of 5.89, which both ranked second in the AAC. She also had the third best save percentage in conference games (.768). Smith was named AAC Goalkeeper of the Week on Sept. 23 after posting two shutouts and garnering 10 saves versus Cornell and Providence.

“Natalie has a brave mentality and was constantly improving in her first season,” Stafford said. “She kept us in a few games this season by making some big saves and helped solidify a very young and inexperienced back four.”

Couperus and Smith are the first Bearcats to receive league honors as a freshman since Lisa Stephens was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman Team in 2001.

In head coach Neil Stafford’s first season at the helm, the Bearcats finished the year with an 8-11-1 overall record and 4-4-1 in league play. This season marked only the third time in the last 10 seasons that UC accumulated eight or more wins and only the second time in 10 years that they had four or more conference wins. Cincinnati, who was picked to finish ninth in the AAC, surprised the league by finishing sixth, despite being tied for third entering their final conference match.