NIU's Klaas wins CoSIDA Academic All-District accolades; Roman named to Second-Team



November 6, 2003


DeKALB, IL---Sometimes individual statistics and achievements can be overshadowed by the success or failure of the team. Fortunately, that wasn't the case for Northern Illinois University's Katie Klaas (Cherry Valley / Rockford Christian Life), as the senior forward was named to the 2003 College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District V women's soccer team Thursday (Nov. 6).

Regional coordinator Chris Masters announced Klaas as one of 11 players on the First-Team Academic All-District squad, a distinction which places the Huskie co-captain on the list for Academic All-America consideration. The honorees from District V---which is comprised of Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin, plus the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba---join their counterparts from CoSIDA's other seven districts on the ballot for Academic All-America accolades. That list will be announced Nov. 25.

Klaas tied for second on the team scoring charts this fall---logging six points off two goals plus two assists---with all of that production coming in the final six matches of the season following her shift from the midfield into a forward role. She finished her career with 45 points (16 goals and 13 helpers), setting up the match-winner versus Southern Utah University (Oct. 19) as well as NIU's lone tally against regular-season Mid-American Conference champion Eastern Michigan University (Oct. 26).

The Academic All-District accolade is the second for the Cherry Valley native, who also earned CoSIDA honors in her sophomore campaign (2001). Her personal trophy case also includes Second-Team All-MAC accolades from 2002 as well as a trio of Victory Scholar citations in the NIU Athletics Department's Academic Excellence Program. Those plaques recognize her 3.63 cumulative grade-point-average as a nursing major.

"I'm glad that (the voters) are looking at individual players like they did because there were a lot of great individual efforts on our team," Klaas said. "Our (3-15-1) record didn't really show all the excellent work our individual players put in. I think God commands us to do everything to the best of our ability. Wins and losses are sometimes out of our control, but I just try to follow that rule in school and in soccer."

"This is a great honor for Katie, and I'm extremely happy for her," Northern Illinois coach Frank Horvat said. "She's one of the players who has grown the most over the past four years, and to see her recognized like this is phenomenal. A team's record can hold individual players back for awards like this at times, but I hope she's given full consideration (for Academic All-America honors) because she has brought a whole new dimension to our game.

"Early in her career she felt like she had to do a lot by herself but she has become much more of a team player and does so much to make the players around her better," Horvat explained. "Her leadership is outstanding and she has been a great role model, always giving 100 percent plus in practice and in the game. Her heart, her soul and her mind have always been in the right place, and you can't ask for more than that from any player that you coach. For her to receive this honor with that GPA is no small feat considering her major in a program that has an outstanding reputation and high expectations from its students."

The University of Notre Dame had four First-Team selections, led by defender Vanessa Pruzinsky along with forward Mary Boland. Midfielder Kim Carpenter and goalkeeper Erika Bohn also represented the Fighting Irish on the First-Team group, along with Eastern Illinois University forwards Teri LaRoche and Beth Liesen and a pair of Illinois State University players in defender Tiffany DeClark and midfielder Dana Schulte. University of Illinois defender Christen Karniski and University of Wisconsin backliner Jessica Ring rounded out the contest. Karniski and Bohn were the lone sophomores gaining First-Team recognition with Boland and Ring as the only juniors.

If Klaas is elected to the Academic All-America honor roll, she would become the third player in program history to achieve that distinction. Anne Mucci was a First-Team Academic All-America selection after leading NIU to the 1998 Mid-American Conference championship as the league's Player of the Year, and Megan Anderson garnered Third-Team honors in 2001.

Klaas wasn't the only Northern Illinois player recognized by CoSIDA voters, who also placed senior defender Anne Roman (DeKalb) on the Second-Team Academic All-District squad. Roman was the lone Huskie to start all 19 matches this year, finishing her career with a streak of 46 consecutive starts dating back to the middle of the 2001 schedule. She bolstered a back line which lost two senior starters early in 2003 and played a key role in NIU's 2-1 victory over the University of Toledo (Oct. 10) while also tutoring a young defensive group. In the classroom, Roman carries a 3.97 GPA as a studio art-design major, and the three-time Victory Scholar boasts one of the highest GPAs in the athletics department, posting only one "B" in her four years.

"Anne has always brought her best effort forward every year and has always worked hard to get herself on the field and contribute," Horvat noted. "She carries that work ethic and dedication over into the classroom. Her major is demanding in terms of time, and she's also a Division I student-athlete. Take that combination into consideration and you realize she's totally committed and well organized to contribute to the best of her ability both academically and athletically.

"She moved into the back (from a midfield spot) this year because we needed some more leadership back there, and she did a great job with the transition, changing her focus in the new role," Horvat added. "It takes a very special person to be able to do that after three years in one position and move into another. It's no small feat and she definitely made contributions throughout the season."

-30- --- Copy by Robert Hester



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