The 2006 Missouri women’s soccer team is built on speed and athleticism. The individual and team recognition for the Tigers are arriving quickly as well.
The individual recognition came Tuesday, when Big 12 Conference officials named Tigers forward Ashley Hamblin as its first Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week for the 2006 season. Hamblin, a sophomore from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, played well in this past weekend’s Tiger Invitational tournament, tallying three goals and two assists in wins over Iowa and Illinois.
The honor comes as a surprise to Hamblin, she said.
“I wasn’t really expecting it,” Hamblin said. “My coach made a comment to me earlier about it and I just got the news a little bit ago so I’m really happy about it.”
Although the season is young, Hamblin finds herself in the top three of the Big 12 in a number of major offensive categories. Hamblin’s eight points put her at the top of the conference while she is second in goals and tied for third in assists.
The honors continued to roll in on Wednesday when Hamblin was named the SoccerTimes.com National Player of the Week and was one of 11 players named to the Soccer America Women’s Team of the Week. Coach Bryan Blitz said he is excited for his leading scorer, but is not putting too much stock into the early praise.
“It’s recognition for some of her hard work and the hard work of her teammates, but I would be more excited to see her on a list for National Player of the Year later in the season,” Blitz said.
The team, too, is getting recognized for its efforts. Missouri, who began the season unranked, is starting to see its name come up in a few national polls after this weekend’s tournament. An emphatic 5-0 win over the then-No. 13 Fighting Illini seems to be the most likely contributor to the team finding itself ranked in the top 20 of some national soccer publication’s polls. Blitz pointed out that his team was receiving similar attention at this time last season but faded. As fast as the team is starting off, he is just as quick to show how far they have to go.
“This is just 10 percent of the season we have played,” Blitz said. “We’d like to see the finished product and have that recognition later in the season, but we have a lot of games left to play.”