Eight Northwestern State players selected Preseason All-Conference, four on first team

A league-high eight members of the Northwestern State soccer team earned preseason All-Southland Conference, the conference announced Wednesday.

NSU has four selections on the first team and four more on the second team.

Reigning SLC Player of the Year Olivia Draguicevich returns, aiming to earn NSU a second consecutive conference title. She is joined on the first team by the three-time SLC Defender of the Year Nicole Henry, Hallie Field and Delaney Wells.

Draguicevich, who was named NSU’s first ever All-Louisiana Player of the Year in addition to the SLC’s Player of the Year, scored 13 goals and recorded 29 points in her award-winning junior season in 2021. Her 13 goals were tied for the second most in program history for a single season.

The senior owns school records in conference goals scored (18), game-winning goals (13) and conference game-winning goals (11). She is also tied for fourth in career goals scored (24), seventh in career shots on goal (63) and eighth in career points (53).

Henry, a graduate student from Tomball, Texas, and Field, a senior from Frisco, Texas, also were chosen to the first team. The pair led a backline that helped NSU post a single-season record 12 shutouts, which was second nationally.

The pair were each in the top three in minutes last season for non-goalkeepers.

All three were named First Team All-SLC in the postseason in 2021.

Wells, a product of Flower Mound, Texas, rounds out the first team selections. The junior was fourth on the team in 2021 in points with seven, scoring three goals and registering three helpers. She scored the game-winning goal against UIW on Sept. 17. Wells was named Second Team All-Conference in 2021.

In addition to the four first teamers, it also had four—Natalee Henry, Caroline Hilliard, Jayme Haynes and newcomer Gracie Armstrong—chosen to the second team.

Natalee Henry, a graduate student from Tomball, Texas, was second on the team with 14 points, scoring five goals and dishing out four assists. The performance earned her a Second Team All-SLC honors last season.

Hilliard earned the SLC Freshman of the Year last year, the school’s first such honor since Heather Penico in 2002, which earned her a spot on the second team. Haynes, a fellow defender, also was a huge part of the record-breaking defense for NSU. Haynes was named Third Team All-Conference in 2021.

Armstrong, a midfielder, was brought in after her record-setting stint at Colorado State. A two-time First Team All-Mountain West selection with the Rams, she held 11 school records and finished in the top three in 19 categories at the conclusion of her time at CSU.

She started 43 of the 44 games she played in with the Rams, tallying 11 goals and 13 assists for 35 points in her three seasons at CSU.

NSU begins its season with an exhibition contest against Little Rock on Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Lady Demon Soccer Complex. The regular season starts on Aug. 21 when NSU travels to Louisiana Tech, the first of four straight matches to begin the season on the road.