IRVING, Texas – The Big 12 announced Tuesday coaches selections for the conference’s top players. First-year defender Cassie Hiatt was selected to the Big 12 All-Freshman team after playing in every regular season match for a Texas Tech defense that leads the country in shutouts.
“We are thrilled that Cassie has been recognized as an outstanding freshman amidst so many quality freshman in the Big 12,” said head coach Tom Stone. “She joins a long list of Red Raiders that have been selected to the Big 12 All-Freshman team.”
Entering this week’s upcoming Big 12 semi-final, Hiatt has played in all 19 matches in her first season as a Red Raider. It was not long ago Hiatt stepped foot on campus and earned herself a spot in the starting lineup. The six-footer was tasked with filling in the fourth spot on a back line full of seniors.
“She responded extremely well to the demands here at Texas Tech, so we had no hesitation to start this freshman in the back line with three other seniors,” Stone said. “This collective group of outstanding defenders has shut out six Big 12 teams this year.”
Hiatt expressed her gratitude towards the seniors and how accepting they were of their newest line member:
“Coming into a back line full of seniors was definitely intimidating at first, but since the first day of preseason they taught me everything I needed to become a part of them,” Hiatt said of the influence the team’s veteran back line has had on her.
Co-captain Carly Wickenheiser, one of the three seniors that plays with Hiatt on defense, praised her quick adaptation to the college game:
“It’s been so fun to see Cassie develop over the year,” Wickenheiser said. “We knew she was going to be an impact player coming in, but you never know how they [freshmen] are going to handle the college level and the whole season. She continues to learn and get better every week and has been an awesome contribution to our back line.”
Not only did Hiatt help lead Tech to a conference-best 11 shutouts in the regular season, but she also scored three goals. She scored her first collegiate goal against FIU on Sept. 7 before following it up with another one against Oregon State two days later. Perhaps her most memorable goal came on the road against Kansas on Oct. 14 when she headed in the game-tying goal to force overtime with the Jayhawks, where Tech would eventually go on to win. For that effort, she was named Big 12 Freshman of the Week for the week of Oct. 15.
Prior to Tech, Hiatt played for national powerhouse Real Colorado out of the ECNL – the same club from which former Red Raider All-Americans Janine Beckie and Jaelene Hinkle hail. She has also participated in several camps with the U.S. Women’s Youth National Team.
Stone noticed Hiatt’s hard work and admired her play early on.
“It all started with the preparation she undertook over the last two years,” he said. “She did everything in her power to be ready for the transition to college soccer. Her many camps with the U.S. Youth National Teams, her outstanding play for the top youth team in America at Real Colorado and her disciplined adherence to the fitness program we sent her to last February – all of these environments tested and challenged her.”
Hiatt will join the rest of the Red Raiders as they head back to Kansas City for the semi-finals of the Big 12 Championship after dropping TCU in the first round last weekend. Tech will take on Baylor at 4 p.m. on Friday at the Swope Soccer Village.