Over the course of the next six weeks we will be counting down the Top 12 stories of the 2011-12 year. Each Monday and Thursday we will reveal a new story, until we reach the top moment, which will be unveiled in mid July.
In what was described as a "fun ride" by its head coach, Michael Thomas, the 2011 women's soccer season was certainly one for the record books. The team finished with a 12-5-4 record, winning 11 more games than the season before in what was not just the biggest season-to-season turnaround in program history, but it was the among the best turnarounds in the nation. The team made the Mid-American Conference tournament for the first time since 2003, and won a game in the tournament for the first time since 2000 after beating Kent State 2-1 in the opening round.
After being eliminated by MAC regular season champ Toledo in the semifinal round, Thomas added, "I couldn't be prouder of the girls and happier with the season as a whole."
Aside from the astounding team performance, the season was marked by numerous standout individuals. Sophomore goalkeeper Ainsley Wheldon was a three-time Defensive Player of the Week award winner, graduating senior Aubrey Stahl made the All-Conference Second Team, and newcomers Katie Roberts and Megan Giesen earned spots on the All-Freshman Team. Wheldon set program records for minutes played and shutouts, with 1935 and 10, respectively. She also made 139 total saves and posted a 0.79 goals against average.
The team kept its supporters on the edge of their seats all season. The team played in seven overtime games, going undefeated with three wins and four ties. In games decided by one goal, the Bulls won nine of its 12 games and lost three games by just a lone goal.
Now losing just three players who logged major minutes last season, and returning all but one of the team's top offensive threats, the youthful Bulls are already hard at work to make sure that the 2012 season is even more special than 2011.
"We're going to get to work. We have a young team so we've got an opportunity to work with what will be the majority of our team for next year," Thomas said. "We're extremely pleased with this season and the amount of effort, but we need to get better so that we can play even deeper next year."