By Ian Weiner and Jack O’Marra
Contributing Sports Reporters
Men’s Soccer MVP: Nils Leifhelm
Greatness and success are no stranger to Nils Leifhelm. The senior goalkeeper has been making an impact for the University of Rhode Island men’s soccer team since his freshman year in 2014, and did not fail to defend the net this year.
This season, Leifhelm started, as well as played the full length of every game. By the time the final whistle of the season sounded on Nov. 10, Leifhelm had played more than 1,800 minutes, and stopped 90 goals from entering the net. His save percentage was at a staggering 81.1 percent, and the keeper forced eight shutouts upon opponents. In addition, Leifhelm only allowed an average of one goal per game to be scored.
The keeper was also awarded Atlantic 10 defensive player of the week on three separate occasions this season, and was an honoree in College Soccer News’ National Team of the week in late September. The keeper started off strong, pushing three shutouts in the first five games, and finished on a high note as well, with a save percentage of 79 percent in the team’s last three games.
The Rams also experienced a 10-game unbeaten streak from Sep. 7 through Oct.18, where Leifhlem saved 90 percent of the shots on goal. The senior from Munster, Germany decided to come to the United States to play soccer in an effort to receive a higher education degree while still competing in the sport he loves and cherishes. Leifhelm finished his four year Rhode Island career with 40 wins, 327 saves, and 23 shutouts.
Women’s Soccer MVP: Taylor Ross
Women’s soccer senior forward Taylor Ross earns the Good 5 Cent Cigar’s MVP following the 2017 season. Ross was a bright spot to a Rams team that struggled under first-year head coach, Megan Jessee.
Ross finished her senior campaign with five goals and an assist in just 12 games played for the Rams. Ross also led the team in shooting percentage at 29.4 and shots on goal percentage at 64.7. The Mapleville, Rhode Island native notched her first career hat-trick against Vermont earlier in the season. It included two wonderful headers, and a goal from the penalty spot to cap off a 4-2 victory against the Catamounts in late August. She picked up an assist against Atlantic 10 foe, Fordham, her lone helper of the season.
Ross completed her career with Rhody in dramatic fashion by picking up two goals against George Mason in the final game of her career. Ross’ presence amongst the Rhody forwards has been a dangerous one her whole career and her production in her final season was a bright spot on a dim season for the Rams. Overall, Ross finishes with 12 career goals, five assists and two game winning goals.
Ross is also an MVP off the field. In 2015 Ross started her very own philanthropy organization called Cleats Count. Through Cleats Count, she collects used soccer cleats and sells clothing apparel to buy new soccer cleats for young boys and girls living in poverty. Ross departs from URI leaving a legacy both on and off the pitch.