Defense is, aside from the classic de-fense chants from the fans, a thankless task in athletics.
But donít tell that to Sandpoint soccer alumna Taylor Ward, who won all-Northwest Athletic Conference awards for not only her efforts on defense but also in the classroom.
Ward, a sophomore defensive midfielder at Spokane Community College, was the only Spokane defender on the NWAC All-Stars list, and was one of eight Spokane Sasquatch (yes, that is the mascot) on the list of Fall Quarter Academic Excellence nominees.
Ward was an integral part of a unit that surrendered an average of 0.9 goals and 3.85 shots on goal per game. To put these numbers in perspective, Spokane Community College recorded 12 shutouts in its 20-game season last year, plus was second in the league in goals allowed (10) in NWAC play.
Arguably the best performances came from Spokaneís start to conference play, in which the Sasquatch defense yielded zero shots on goal in a two-game stretch.Thanks to Ward, scoring on Spokane was much easier said than done.
Yet the most astounding stat of all could be that Ward was never carded in over 1,000 minutes of play.
Ward started in all but one game for Spokane, which won the NWAC East Region with a 10-1-3 record. The Sasquatch would go on to lose 5-4 in penalty kicks against Tacoma Community College in the first round of the NWAC playoffs, putting a premature end to a 12-3-5 campaign.
Ward is a onetime three-sport athlete for Sandpoint High School (soccer, basketball and track) and has been a two-year starter for Spokane Community College. A 4.0 student in high school, Ward has a 3.92 GPA while balancing life as a student-athlete. She has also made the Presidentís Honor Roll in every semester at Spokane Community College.
No matter where Ward ends up next year ó SCC is a two-year institution ó her track records on the pitch and in the classroom speak for themselves.
Editorís note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated Wardís GPA was a 3.29. It has been corrected.