IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa senior midfielder Natalie Winters was voted the team Most Valuable Player for the 2019 season, it was announced Thursday at the team’s end-of-season banquet. It is the second straight season Winters has been voted Iowa’s MVP.
Senior forward Devin Burns was named Iowa’s Offensive Player of the Year, sophomore Riley Whitaker was voted the team’s Defensive Player of the Year, and sophomore Samantha Tawharu was tabbed as the Newcomer of the Year.
Senior Isabella Blackman was the recipient of the team’s Hawk Award — an honor that recognizes a player that is strong in the classroom, community, and on the soccer field.
Winters, a Plymouth, Michigan, native, was voted Iowa’s Most Valuable Player after earning United Soccer Coaches second-team All-North Region and second-team All-Big Ten honors. Winters was a perfect 4-for-4 on penalty kicks and she tied for the team lead in goals (6) and game-winning goals (3) and was second in shots (36) in 2019.
The honor was the fourth team award of Winters’ career. She was the MVP and Offensive Player of the Year as a junior and the Hawkeyes’ Newcomer of the Year as freshman. Winters finished her career with 15 goals, five game-winners, and 13 assists.
Burns, a native of Green Oaks, Illinois, earned her second career Offensive Player of the Year honor (2017) after tying for the team lead with six goals and tallying four assists in 2019. Burns, a third-team All-Big Ten selection, led the team in shots (53) and she had one game-winning goal. She finished her career with 20 goals — nine game-winners — and 13 assists.
Whitaker earned her second career team award — she was the Newcomer of the Year in 2018 — after anchoring a Hawkeye defense that posted eight shutouts. The Ankeny, Iowa, native logged a team-high 1,889 minutes and she scored one goal and registered three assists.
Tawharu was tabbed as the team’s top newcomer after scoring five goals and tallying five assists during her first season as a Hawkeye. The Green Bay, Auckland, New Zealand, native tied for the team lead with three game-winning goals, including back-to-back 110th minute strikes in wins over Minnesota and Ohio State.
Blackman earned her first career team award after starting all 21 games as a midfielder in 2019. The Bettendorf, Iowa, native had one goal and one assist and she logged 1,736 minutes. Blackman was a team co-captain with senior Hannah Drkulec.
The Hawkeyes enjoyed a stellar 2019 season, tying a single-season school record with 15 victories, while earning a berth into the NCAA Tournament for the second time in program history. Iowa tied a school record with seven Big Ten wins to finish fifth in the regular season standings, which is tied for the second best league finish in program history.