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Rutgers junior earns honors on Big Ten first team

Brianne Reed didn’t see it coming. 

For the most part, the junior has quietly done her job latching down the hatches for one of the top defenses in the country. 

As a defender, her numbers don’t generate much attention or hype. She snuck in her lone goal of the season in a 1-1 draw at Nebraska and has relayed two assists to give her a total of four points on the year, but that’s about as far as it goes. 

What can’t be measured by statistics, though, is her aid for the defense.

That all changed last week when Reed was selected to First Team All-Big Ten.

In a year where she has focused mainly on how to ensure team success by the unity on the defensive backline, Reed didn’t expect her efforts to be recognized in the elite Big Ten Conference when she was notified of the honor.

“I was surprised because I thought the way that the awards worked were based on the weekly honor rolls that you had gotten throughout the season,” Reed said. “So I didn’t see it coming at all.”

But when the recognition began to slowly marinate, one of the Rutgers women’s soccer team’s starting backs reflected on the work put in up to this point in her collegiate career as a Scarlet Knight.

“It’s going to sound really cliché, but it just proves … [the team has] worked hard all season, and to be recognized for that is just a really big honor,” she said. 

In a season filled with firsts for Rutgers as it begins to close the book on its inaugural Big Ten season, Reed etches her name in the program’s history books as the first player selected to the conference’s First Team honors.

Along with Reed, fellow juniors Hayley Katkowski and Erica Skroski garnered Second Team All-Big Ten honors for their efforts throughout the fall.

As two players who fly under the radar in terms of their contributions to the team’s success this season, Katkowski and Skroski have served as two reliable players for head coach Mike O’Neill to lean on in his first season as head coach.

Dating all the way back to her freshman year in 2012, Katkowski has started 62 consecutive games as midfielder. Skroski, meanwhile, has started all 18 matches for the Knights this season, going the distance in playing all 90 minutes in 15 of the 18 matches.

Along with junior forward Amanda DeVolk, who received the Big Ten’s Sportsmanship Award, Rutgers boasts a strong string of juniors set to return for next year.

While the focus is still on this season and how his team can extend its run in the NCAA Tournament, the idea that some of his best players will return for one more year is an exciting thing.

“We try not to look to much into the future, we try to focus more so on the ‘right now,’” O’Neill said. “But for them to receive those honors, it’s well deserved. [Brianne Reed] is such a great player and an even better person. … To see her receive that recognition, I’m happy.”

Freshman goalkeeper Casey Murphy reflected on the honor of being named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team but attributed the award to the way her teammates took her in and made the college transition smoother. 

“I was very appreciative of the award. I think that’s just an example of the effort and hard work that the seniors this year put in, pushing myself including everyone else to be their best,” Murphy said. “Now I give them a lot of credit.”

With Reed, Skroski and Katkowski serving as the main line of defense for the Knights’ rookie goalkeeper, Murphy was glad to see them receive their recognition.

“I think it’s absolutely deserved,” Murphy said of her teammates’ All-Big Ten honors. “They’ve been doing so well, and they work so hard and day in and day out in practice. So they’re getting the recognition they deserve, and it’s very good to see.”

For updates on the Rutgers women’s soccer team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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