The Ladyjack soccer team’s season was one for the ages. Led by backto-back Southland Conference Coach of the Year Tony Amato, SFA won a school-record 17 games en route to the school’s seventh conference regular season title and the third SLC Tournament championship. SFA (17-3-0) advanced to the NCAA Tournament to face the No. 16 Texas A&M Aggies, marking the second time in school history the Ladyjacks faced the Aggies in postseason play. The Ladyjacks had a school and conference record eight players named to the all-conference teams, including senior midfielder Kylie Louw, who also was named the SLC Player of the Year for a third consecutive season. Louw became the first athlete in school history to be named a conference Player of the Year three times. Louw also became the school’s all-time points leader in an Oct. 19 victory over Sam Houston State with an assist in the 38th minute, giving Louw her 92nd career point to surpass the previous record (91) set by Amanda Alders. As a team, the Ladyjacks moved up as high as No. 28 in the NCAA RPI Rankings, which also was a school record.
The SFA volleyball team has been a juggernaut on the court over the history of the Southland Conference, winning seven conference titles, holding the longest conference win streak in league history at 62 consecutive matches and picking up the league’s only win in NCAA Tournament play in 2006. At the head of all of it is head coach Debbie Humphreys who has been SFA’s only head coach since the program moved to Division I going into the 1988 season. This year, she is on the sidelines again, celebrating her 25th year at the controls of the Ladyjacks, and has already led them to their 17th 20-win season in the history of the program. She is among the top 10 percent of coaches in wins, with more than 500 in her career. Following this season’s match with Southeastern Louisiana, more than 75 of her friends, family members and former players gathered after attending the match. Humphreys was honored with a banquet that included speeches from former players, pictures and a forum for each of the Ladyjack alumnae to express her gratitude for the coach’s impact on her life.
Senior receiver Cordell Roberson has been added to the 2012 Walter Payton Award Watch List announced by the Sports Network in October. The Walter Payton Award is the NCAA FCS version of the Heisman Trophy. Roberson is one of only 20 players in the nation and only three Southland Conference players on the list. Among the 20 players currently on the watch list, only three are receivers. Roberson will be looking to follow in the footsteps of former SFA quarterback Jeremy Moses, who won the award following the 2010 campaign, becoming the first player in school and conference history to do so. A two-time first-team All-Southland Conference selection, Roberson garnered All-America honors in 2010 after leading the nation in touchdown receptions. Roberson is among the nation’s top five in receptions and receiving yards per game. Earlier this season, he became the school’s all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards and owns the school and conference record in touchdown receptions (37). Only the fourth player in conference history to record 200 career receptions, Roberson is on pace to become the conference’s all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards, and he ranks among the FCS’ all-time top 20 in touchdown receptions.
The Ladyjack cross country team claimed its seventh Southland Conference title in late October, doing so in exciting fashion as it edged Piney Woods rival Sam Houston State by just two points in the closest race at the conference meet since 1994. Senior Lauren Smith led the charge, winning the league’s individual title for the second consecutive season and becoming just the third Ladyjack in history to register multiple individual conference crowns. Senior Randi Plentl was not far behind, finishing third overall for her second top-five finish in as many years. And Laurie Byrd was the third SFA scorer, placing 13th. However, the title looks to have hinged on SFA’s next runner, as Danielle Burchett made a late kick and crossed for a 15th-place finish, less than a second ahead of Sam Houston’s Nicole Aponte. Freshman Shelby Pesek rounded out SFA’s scoring, finishing 24th. Following the meet, the Ladyjacks racked in the awards again as Smith claimed her second straight Athlete of the Year honor, while Burchett was named the league’s Newcomer of the Year, making her the first Ladyjack ever to take that award. Cody Clark also was named the Women’s Coach of the Year – the first time he has won that award – in just his second year at the helm.