WACO, Texas – Rogers State women's soccer head coach Scott Parkinson was named the Heartland Coach of the Year, Bria Salazar was selected as the Heartland Freshman of the Year and eight Hillcats earned All-Heartland honors as announced by the league office on Wednesday (Nov. 1) morning.
Senior midfielder Daisy Cardona and junior goalkeeper Taylor Sargent were named All-Heartland First Team. Salazar, freshman Hannah Mushisky, senior Lexi Ellingsen and junior Melissa Cardenas garnered All-Heartland Second Team. Junior Jordan Downing and freshman Alex Wynn were selected All-Heartland Conference Third Team. The eight all-conference selections are the most in the history of the women's soccer program.
"This is such a great day for the team," Parkinson said. "My players have worked so hard this year and bought into what we are here at RSU. I couldn't be more proud of each and every one of them. Individual success just doesn't happen without team success, the 25-women squad can be very proud. We know this group is special. We are just so proud of them all."
Parkinson guided the Hillcats to one of the biggest single-season turnarounds in Heartland Conference history. RSU improved by 20 points in the league standings from 2016, going 9-3-2 in league play. Under Parkinson's tutelage, the Cats went 13-3-2 during the regular season and advanced to the Heartland Conference Tournament for the first time in program history. In his two seasons as head coach at RSU, Parkinson is 19-12-5 overall and has led the Hillcats to the largest year-by-year improvements in back-to-back seasons.
"This award shocked me more than my players' awards," Parkinson said. "It's very flattering to be selected by my peers in this tough conference. We have so many excellent coaches and programs. It's hard to believe they voted for me. I thank them for the nomination and for pushing me every day to be a better coach and leader for my players.
"My staff has been incredible since we took over here 15 months ago," Parkinson said. "It means that myself and my assistant Kelsi Tuthill have done more right than wrong in our short careers. Every move we make and decision we make is made together. Without Kelsi, Bryan Byars and our athletic trainer Molly Hovendick, none of this would be possible. We are a family here, and we seem to be onto something good, but without the players we have and the support from the administration these awards would be impossible. It's a great day to be a Hillcat."
Salazar, a native of Glendora, Calif., appeared in 15 games and started 10 contests in the regular season as a holding midfielder for the navy and red. She played 757 minutes and missed some time due to injury. With Salazar in the lineup, the Hillcats went 12-0-2.
Cardona, a senior from Ventura, Calif., paces the Hillcats with a team-high 11 goals and 26 points in the midfield. She set a school record with six game-winning goals this season. The senior started in all 18 games as an attacking midfielder for the Hillcat lineup during the regular season. Cardona opened the season with a fast start, scoring five goals in the first five games. She posted a hat-trick with three goals in a win over Manhattan Christian and tallied two goals in a victory over Randall.
Sargent, a junior from The Colony, Texas, played every minute in goal for the Hillcats in the regular season. She set a school record with 11 shutouts in the 18 games, ranking first in the league. A three-time Heartland Conference Defensive Player of the Week, Sargent leads the league with a .899 save percentage that ranks seventh in the nation. With a 0.432 goals against average, she ranks second in the Heartland Conference and 10th in NCAA Division II. In 1,665 minutes, Sargent has allowed only eight goals and made 71 saves.
Mushisky, a freshman from Arcadia, Calif., appeared in all 18 regular games as a forward for the RSU attack. The freshman was once named the Heartland Conference Offensive Player of the Week this season.
Mushisky ranks second on the team with eight goals, including two game-winning tallies. She has appeared in 809 minutes of play in the regular season with 28 shots and 17 shots on goal. Mushisky registered two goals in a 2-0 victory over Texas A&M International in a stretch of four straight games with a goal for the freshman.
Ellingsen, a senior from Pasco, Wash., started and appeared in the final 17 regular season games, missing only the season opener due to a late injury. Playing as an outside back, Ellingsen captained the Hillcats and helped the RSU back line totaled 11 shutouts during the season and allowed only eight goals. The senior totaled two assists, both coming in a win over Randall. Ellingsen scored her first collegiate goal this season in a 3-1 victory at Newman.
Cardenas, a junior from Oxnard, Calif., started in all 18 regular season contests at outside back for the navy and red defense. The captain played more minutes than any other field player with 1,515 during the regular season. She is tied for the team lead with five assists and registered two assists in a 4-1 win over St. Mary's.
Downing, a junior from Hutchinson, Kan., appeared in all 18 regular season games with 15 starts at forward. She has posted 13 points on four goals and a team-high five assists. The junior scored the game-winning golden goal in an overtime 1-0 victory over Texas A&M International, and had a four-point performance against Manhattan Christian with one goal and two assists.
Wynn, a freshman from Norman, Okla., started all 18 regular season games as a center back for the Hillcat defense. She helped the defense post 11 shutouts as the Hillcats allowed only eight goals during the regular season. Her 1,507 minutes ranked second on the team for field players. Wynn has registered two goals during the year, both coming in the regular season finale against Oklahoma Christian in a 6-0 win.