After a stellar prep career that saw her play varsity from freshman year on at Westlake High School as well as on the U17 National Team, injuries slowed down Cal women's soccer star Arielle Ship her first two seasons. But now injury-free, Ship exploded in her junior season to earn Cal's first Pac-12 Player of the Year honors in 2015.
Ship was one of five players to be honored by the league with All-Pac-12 honors and was joined on the first team by senior defender Samantha Witteman. Senior Celeste Boureille and sophomore Emily Boyd were named All-Pac-12 Second Team selections, and junior Emma Fletcher was an All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention.
"It's a huge honor for me, especially knowing all the talent that's been through Cal," said Ship. "I was on pins and needles about it. I know there are some other amazing players in the conference and I definitely wasn't sure that I had it so I was very excited and relieved that I won that award.
"I really think it was our team, our cohesiveness. We were on point and were able to attack and play as a team. Obviously, with me scoring, I need my teammates to set me up and they did a fantastic job all year of that."
The All-American forward put together a stellar season for the Bears, netting 14 goals and six assists for 34 points as well as six game-winning goals – tops in the league in goals, points and game-winners - as she became the first Golden Bear to lead the league in points and goals since Laura Schott did so in 2000 and 2001. Ship earned two Pac-12 weekly honors, four national weekly honors and was also named the consensus National Player of the Week on September 9 when she was selected as the country’s top player by the NSCAA, TopDrawerSoccer and ESPNW. Her seven-point outing against UCLA with three goals and one assist goes down as the third-best single-game performance in program history.
"It surprised me when I learned she was the first Cal player to be chosen Player of the Year because we've had so many talented players that have come through the program," said Cal head coach Neil McGuire. "But with regards to Ari, I'm really excited for her.
"It's not been an easy journey for her. She suffered some injuries earlier in her career but she came back really strong this year and worked very hard on her fitness. And her mental strength has been tremendous.
"She's led our team with her goals, but also her leadership, her commitment and her desire have been really impressive so I'm really happy for her."
To her more from Ship and McGuire on Ship's season, why she chose Cal, what makes the star forward the player she is and more, use the embedded viewer below:
Cal takes on LMU in NCAA First Round action today in Berkeley. The Bears and Lions kickoff at 12 p.m. at Edwards Stadium with Cal holding a #3 national seed and the rights to host the first round game.