Last week, five members of the Michigan women’s soccer team received All-Big Ten honors. Senior captain and midfielder Corinne Harris, senior captain and defender Christina Murillo and redshirt sophomore forward Ani Sarkisian were voted to the All-Big Ten First Team, while forward Reilly Martin and defender Sura Yekka were named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team.

The Wolverines have made a habit of being noticed on the conference level for representing individual excellence. Michigan has placed at least one player on the All-Big Ten First Team in each of the last four seasons, and has had at least one All-Freshman Team member in each of the last six. However, this year’s total of three members on the first team is the second most in program history.

Harris, Murillo and Sarkisian have each had a standout moment this season in addition to their usual dominance. In the opening weekend of Big Ten play, Murillo delivered a superb assist to senior forward Lulu Haidar for the dramatic game-winner in the 88th minute against Iowa. A few weeks later, Harris scored the game-winning goal against then-No. 22 Northwestern on a rocket of a shot from 25 yards out. Later that weekend, Sarkisian scored all the goals in the Wolverines’ 3-1 victory against Illinois, becoming the 10th player in program history to record a hat trick. She was subsequently named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week.

Despite having so many influential players, according to Michigan coach Greg Ryan, the larger team dynamic is the key variable in the Wolverines’ success.

“We’re much more of a team than a collection of individuals,” Ryan said. “Because our team plays so well together, it really enhances the abilities of players with the talent level of a Corinne Harris, an Ani Sarkisian and a Christina Murillo. We see ourselves as a team, and we’re proud of everyone who has helped our players receive this recognition.

“When you look at Christina and Corinne and Ani, they would be the last ones to be promoting themselves; they’re all about the team. It’s wonderful for them to receive these awards because they definitely deserve them, but it’s also a reflection of everyone and the success of the whole team.”

On the academic side of the ball, three Wolverines — senior midfielder Corinne Harris, junior defender Anna Soccorsi and sophomore forward Taylor Timko — were named to the Capital One Academic All-District Five First Team last week. Eligibility requirements included having a minimum 3.3 GPA, holding sophomore status, being a starter or important reserve and playing in at least half of the team’s games.

Being a student-athlete at Michigan is no small task, requiring a great deal of discipline to balance school and sport responsibilities. Having successfully navigated the waters over her four years at Michigan, Harris discussed how she combats the challenges of the tricky balancing act by taking advantage of the opportunities afforded to her.  

 

“It’s definitely challenging, but we have a lot of resources that help us,” Harris said. “We have amazing tutors and counselors in the Academic Center in addition to all of the resources other students have. The teachers here are really great about it. Sometimes it requires missing class and rescheduling exams, which isn’t ideal, it’s really just about time management and using your resources. If you do those two things, although it’s harder to keep up, it’s definitely possible.”

 

The team shares the understanding that Michigan academics are equally important to athletics, and therefore devote an equal level of focus to both. As Ryan points out, it’s the combination of the two that sets Michigan apart from other institutions.

 

“It’s an essential part of who we are,” Ryan said. “I’m really proud of our entire team for their academic performance, and I’m thankful for the kids that really raise the bar for our team in Corinne and Taylor and Anna.

 

“Michigan is a tough school for everybody; you don’t come here to take it easy. We tell everyone that you’re going to have a fantastic athletic experience, but what’s going to be most important in your life is your academic experience and the preparation provided for you here at Michigan.”

 

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