When the NSCAA Division I women’s All-America list was announced there was a familiar name missing.
She didn’t play the last nine games of the season, but one would have thought she might have done enough in the first 16 to earn her fourth All-America honor.
But Wake Forest senior Katie Stengel was not on the list.
Stengel was forced to the sidelines with a blood clot condition that required blood thinners and no contact activities.
Her Demon Deacon teammate, goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe did make the All-America list. She did it for the third consecutive year, an honor well deserved.
Before she stopped playing, Stengel had scored six goals with eight assists over the first 16 games of the season. Her 20 points were second most on the team.
She stayed involved with her team, and did what she could to provide leadership, but her presence on the field was missed.
When asked to comment about Bledsoe’s honor, WFU head coach Tony da Luz said, “Aubrey’s work ethic and desire to improve is unmatched in the NCAA. She started 90 games or so in four years so obviously her preparation and concentration levels are off the charts. She never took anything for granted and earned everything with honest effort.
“Her recognition as a repeat all American is so deserved. Aubrey bleeds Wake Forest, and was also an Academic All-American these last two years.
Da Luz nominated Stengel again and hoped she would again be selected All-America. Replacing her in the lineup was difficult, but only one of the setbacks Wake had this past season with injuries.
“Don’t forget we lost Jenai Davidson to ACL in preseason and Rachel Nuzzolese to ACL in our first ACC game vs FSU. So to lose Katie on top that was a lot to deal with. Those are three athletic strikers.
“So it made it much harder to stretch teams in the attack, harder to hold the ball up top which Katie did so well for us and going into a game knowing that Katie was going to create or score a goal every game gives your team confidence.
“We tried to play with three forwards and press more, trying to create more set pieces and manufacture goals in different ways. We actually concluded that our core was in midfield and that a 4-4-2 worked better for us.
“Riley Ridgik came to our rescue on more than one occasion. She really stepped up to score and create goals and provide leadership. Of course, Aubrey kept us in games with some incredible saves and leadership in the goal.”
Stengel has continued non-contact conditioning and will complete her blood thinner therapy in mid-January. She should be able to resume playing after that if everything checks out.
That is good news for her future, but for WFU soccer she is now a part of history. She leaves holding most offensive records as the all-time leading scorer with 50 goals, 24 assists and 124 points.
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