Thursday, December 6, 2012
Former D.C. United Women standout Christine Nairn of Penn State and Long Island Rough Riders standout Crystal Dunn of the University of North Carolina were named on Thursday as Finalists for the MAC Hermann Trophy, the most prestigious award in NCAA Division I Soccer. Nairn and Dunn were joined by Virginia’s Caroline Miller, with the award set to be announced on Friday, January 11 in St. Louis.
Nairn had a standout fall for the Nittany Lions, leading PSU to its first National Championship Game appearance in her senior season. The native of Arnold, Md. was named the Big Ten Midfielder of the Year, and earned All-Conference honors for the fourth time after a remarkable season that saw her score 17 goals and add 11 assists.
Nairn’s 46 points were good for sixth in the nation, and she raised her game in the postseason. During the Nittanty Lions’ six-game run in the NCAA Tournament, Nairn had four goals and three assists, including the game-winner against Duke in the Elite Eight that sent her side to the College Cup for the first time and the overtime winner against Florida State in the semifinals.
Dunn, meanwhile, played a crucial role as the Tar Heels claimed their 21st NCAA Championship by defeating the Nittany Lions this past Sunday. Away from the Tar Heels to start the season as she helped the U.S. U20 National Team claim the FIFA U20 World Cup in Japan in September, Dunn shone on her return to Chapel Hill. The junior had 15 points in 17 games for UNC, playing the opening 11 games upon her return in the center of defense to earn ACC Defender of the Year Honors.
Dunn’s versatility was then displayed in the NCAA Tournament as she starred in the Tar Heels’ tournament run. A No. 2 seed in their region, the Tar Heels were fueled by Dunn’s move to an attacking midfield position, from which she scored five goals in four games, including both goals in their Elite Eight victory against No. 1 seed BYU. Dunn added an assist in the National Championship Game, a 4-1 win for the Tar Heels, as she claimed her second championship this fall.
Should either Nairn or Dunn claim the award, they would follow in the footsteps of other W-League greats, such as former Vancouver Whitecaps Women standout Christine Sinclair (2004, 2005), the New Jersey Wildcats trio of Anne Makinen (2000), Cat Reddick (2003) and Mami Yamaguchi (2007) and the Pali Blues duo of Kelley O’Hara (2009) and Christen Press (2010).