Following tremendous regular seasons in the spring of 2021 for both the NKU men’s soccer team and women’s soccer team, a multitude of Norse players took home All-Horizon League awards that were announced on Thursday.
On the men’s side, Head Coach Stu Riddle—in his fourth season as head coach of the Norse—won the Horizon League Coach of the Year award. Riddle coached the Norse to a 7-1 record and a first place finish in the Horizon League standings. In the process, Riddle guided a team that was picked to finish eighth in the Horizon League preseason poll to a surprising regular season championship.
NKU men’s soccer also landed three selections to the All-Horizon League First Team, headlined by Goalkeeper of the Year Daniel Bermingham. Bermingham stepped into the role vacated by former standout goalkeeper Baj Maan, and immediately became a force in the net for the Norse, collecting 31 saves, while posting a 0.72 goals against average.
Bermingham was joined on the first team by junior forward Dylan Bufton, and senior defender Justin Earle. Bufton, a transfer from Tyler Junior College, led NKU with five goals in 2021, and his 13 points also paced the team. Earle was one of six players this season to start all eight regular-season contests, and was a key cog on a defensive unit that allowed only six goals all season, the fewest in the Horizon League.
Sophomore midfielder Ryan Godding was named to the All-Horizon League Second Team, after collecting three assists on the season. Godding demonstrated a flair for the dramatic in 2021, as his unassisted ‘golden goal’ against Green Bay on March 12 gave the Norse a 3-2 overtime victory, while his assist to Bufton on Feb. 22 also led to the game-winner.
A pair of freshmen rounded out the award recognition for the men’s team, as midfielders Deryn Armstrong and Roberto Burlew were each awarded a Horizon League All-Freshman team nod. Armstrong was second on the Norse with three goals this season, while Burlew started all eight games for the Norse in just his first season of collegiate action.
NKU women’s head coach Bob Sheehan was also named Head Coach of the Year, guiding the Norse to an undefeated record in conference play, and the number-one overall seed in the Horizon League Tournament beginning on Sunday, April 11.
Sheehan, the only head coach in NKU women’s soccer history, was named Coach of the Year after guiding the Norse to the top spot in the standings, despite the loss of 2019 Horizon League Player of the Year Shawna Zaken, as well as five other seniors from the 2019 squad.
The loss of Zaken was made profoundly easier to handle by the presence of senior midfielder Kailey Ivins, who was named the 2021 Horizon League Player of the Year on Thursday afternoon. Ivins was terrific throughout the 2021 season in creating goals for herself and her teammates, as her four goals and one assist demonstrated. In addition to the prestigious Player of the Year honor, Ivins was also awarded the Offensive Player of the Year award, and was selected to the All-Horizon League first team.
On the other side of the ball, NKU junior goalkeeper Mimi Stines cemented her name in the record books as well, winning Defensive Player of the Year and Goalkeeper of the Year on Thursday.
Stines had a statistically dominant season in 2021, allowing just three goals all season for a 0.33 goals against average. Additionally, Stines collected six solo shutouts, including the last five games for the Norse, who have not allowed a goal since March 11 against Youngstown State.
The Norse received a trio of selections to the All-Horizon League second team, in junior defender Lily Menssen, junior defender Chloe Mills and sophomore forward Lindsey Meyer. Meyer was excellent at setting up her teammates for goals in 2021, as her six assists easily paced the Norse. Both Mills and Menssen were instrumental pieces of a defense that was one of the toughest to score on in Horizon League action.
To round out the award selections, NKU freshmen Sofia Wilmes and Kaya Vogt, both midfielders who are each from Cincinnati, were named to the All-Freshman team, due in part to their three combined game-winning goals. The duo combined for five goals in 2021, as well as 17 starts.
Both soccer teams will be in action for the semifinals of the Horizon League Tournament on Sunday, April 11 at NKU Soccer Stadium. The women’s team will be in action beginning at 1:00 p.m. against the UIC Flames, while the men’s team will kick off at 5:00 p.m. against the Wright State Raiders. While general admission tickets are not available due to COVID-19 protocols, both games can be streamed on ESPN+.