TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Continuing to add to her legacy, Natalia Kuikka was named the Honda Sport Award winner for Soccer as announced today by Chris Voelz, Executive Director of THE Collegiate Women Sports Awards (CWSA).
The Honda Sport Award has been presented annually by the CWSA for the past 43 years to the top women athletes in 12 NCAA- sanctioned sports and signifies “the best of the best in collegiate athletics”. She now becomes a finalist for the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year, which will be announced on June 24, 2019.
Kuikka was chosen by a vote of administrators from over 1,000 NCAA member schools. Finalists included Julia Ashley (UNC), Jordan DiBiasi (Stanford) and Caitlin Farrell (Georgetown).
Kuikka is the first FSU soccer player to win the Honda Sport Award, and she becomes the fourth FSU student-athlete to earn the award for their sport, joining Jessica van der Linden (softball, 2003-04), Randy Givens (track and field, 1983-94) and Darby Cottle (softball, 1981-82).
“It is a big honor to be selected as the Honda Sport Award winner for soccer,” said Kuikka. “It means even more to win this award because it is not only chosen by the skill, talent and achievements on the soccer field but also the work and dedication we put in the classroom, locker room, and in the community. This award values those parts of the student-athlete that sometimes are left unappreciated. We are not just soccer players, we have other aspiration and interests and there is so much more to us than just the sport. It genuinely feels humbling to be acknowledged as a person not just as a soccer player.
“That’s why I feel honored to be nominated among other great players/persons and to share the field with them. I’m truly thankful to Mark Krikorian and the coaching staff for giving me the opportunity to represent Florida State University and giving me the fresh start and the guidance to purse excellence in all aspects of my life. Thank you to my teammates for teaching me how to lead a team and being patient with me while I learned. You all showed me the value of being a part of community and giving back to them and I am grateful for it. I couldn’t have done this without you all and your constant support. And thank you to the academic support staff and my professors for always believing in me and always reminding me that I can do whatever I set my mind to.”
Kuikka captained the Seminole defense in 2018 that allowed just 13 goals in 27 matches to post a 0. 47 goals against average on the season, which ranked fifth in the NCAA. Florida State recorded 16 shutouts on the year, including in each of the last three matches – No. 14 Penn State, No. 1 Stanford and No. 3 North Carolina – on its way to the national title.
Kuikka was named an All-American for the second time in her career and earned a spot on the All-ACC team for the third year in a row. Kuikka was also selected to the 2018 ACC All-Tournament Team and the 2018 College Cup All-Tournament Team.
Kuikka closed out her career with 79 matches played and 78 starts, tallying 29 points on nine goals and 11 assists. The majority of her scoring came as a freshman when she played in the midfield (six goals and five assists), and her offensive skills aided her defense when she would come forward. During her career, the Seminoles have tallied 54 shutouts and earned three ACC Championships.
“I think it is a fantastic honor that Natalia has earned and she is a great representation of our program,” said FSU head coach Mark Krikorian. “She had an outstanding career here in all areas – on the field, in the classroom and in the community, and it is great to see her recognized for being such a well-rounded person.”
Throughout 2018-19, the Seminoles will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of women’s intercollegiate athletics at Florida State and there are many events and reunions planned for all women’s sports. Head to www.seminoles.com/50th/ for more information that will be updated throughout the year.
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