Notre Dame women's soccer junior All-America forward Melissa Henderson — a first-team All-American and the 2010 NCAA College Cup Most Outstanding Offensive Player — has been selected as one of three finalists for this year’s Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy.
Alex Morgan of California and Christen Press of Stanford join Henderson as finalists for this year’s Hermann Trophy, with the recipient to be revealed Jan. 7 at approximately 7 p.m. (ET) during a news conference at the Missouri Athletic Club in downtown St. Louis. A banquet at the M.A.C. later in the evening will include a formal presentation of the prestigious crystal soccer ball trophy to this year’s recipient. The finalists were determined in voting by Division I women’s soccer coaches who are members of the NSCAA.
It’s the first time in Henderson’s career that she has been named a finalist for the national player-of-the-year award, and she is the fourth Fighting Irish women’s soccer player in the past six years to be chosen as one of the final three candidates for the Hermann Trophy, joining 2005 finalist Katie Thorlakson and two-time award recipient Kerri Hanks, who earned the Hermann Trophy in 2006 and 2008.
One of the catalysts behind Notre Dame’s run this season to its third national championship, Henderson is aiming to become the fourth Fighting Irish women’s soccer player to receive the award, joining Cindy Daws (1996), Anne Makinen (2000) and Hanks (2006, 2008). Two other Notre Dame standouts previously have garnered national player of the year honors from other organizations — Jen Renola (1996 by the NSCAA before the award merged with the Hermann Trophy) and Thorlakson (2004 by Soccer America).
“I can’t think of a more deserving player to be a Hermann Trophy finalist than Melissa,” Fighting Irish head coach Randy Waldrum said. “She has been such a vital contributor to our success throughout her career, and never more so than during this year’s College Cup and the national championship game win over Stanford. I think the whole country had the opportunity to see just how talented and dangerous she can be, whether with or without the ball. While she may not have scored the championship-winning goal, it would not have been possible without her exceptional creativity and skill, as well as her unbelievable ability to bring out the best in her teammates on a daily basis. We are all extremely proud of Melissa and look forward to next month’s announcement of the Hermann Trophy winner.”
As she has been in each of her three years at Notre Dame, Henderson arguably was the nation’s most electric offensive threat this season, scoring 17 goals and dishing out a career-high 11 assists en route to a career-high 45 points. She was one of only three players in the country this season (along with Nebraska’s Morgan Marlborough and Dayton’s Colleen Williams) to rank among the top 20 in goals (sixth), assists (tied-20th) and points (fourth) — while being one of just two players (along with Williams) to also compete in this year’s NCAA Championship and the only one to take her team beyond the first two rounds of the tournament — and she was one of 10 players nationwide to post double-digit totals in both goals and assists.
Furthermore, the speedy Texan ranked at or near the top of the BIG EAST Conference in every major offensive category, including those already named, plus game-winning goals (first - 6), which also ranks eighth in school history. Her 16 game-winning points (6G-4A), capped by her assist on freshman forward Adriana Leon’s 63rd-minute goal in the NCAA national championship match, are tied for ninth-most on the Fighting Irish single-season charts.
In her 76-match career, Henderson has piled up 52 goals (11th in school history) and 18 assists for 122 points (15th in school history), while her 20 career game-winning goals are second in program annals behind Hanks’ 23 scores. In addition, the Fighting Irish are unbeaten all-time when Henderson scores a goal (35-0-2) or registers a point (44-0-2).