Point/counterpoint: Without Stoughton, who was Iowa's Female Athlete of the Year?

BY DI STAFF | MAY 10, 2012 6:30 AM

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Sonja Molnar, tennis

Iowa women's tennis player Sonja Molnar should have been named The Daily Iowan's Female Athlete of the Year.

Molnar was a five-star recruit coming out of high school, and she lived up to every expectation; the outgoing Hawkeye senior posted one of the best careers of any Hawkeye athlete to ever don the Black and Gold.

Molnar joined an elite group this season when she earned her 100th career singles victory in the Big Ten Tournament. She is only the third Iowa women's tennis player to reach the century mark.

All of those 100 wins, including those coming in her freshman year, came in the No. 1 spot; Molnar has played at the top of Iowa's lineup with great consistency and success.

The native of Canada came to Iowa during the 2008-09 school year, and she was only able to play during the spring semester because of paperwork issues. But Molnar was able to show off her talent in four short months, and she won Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

She became known around the conference for her intense competitiveness and her signature "Hi-Yah" when striking the ball. Molnar defeated the No. 11 player in the country, Michigan's Emina Bektas, this season and finished the year ranked No. 69.

The Hawkeye senior finished with a team-best 27-8 overall record and won the fourth All-Big Ten honor of her career — all four of which were unanimous.

Molnar is only the third athlete in Iowa Hawkeye history to earn the honor four times in their career. Toni Neykova (1999-2002) and Laura Dvorak (1991-95) are the other two.

The Hawkeye senior will graduate with a business degree and hopes to enter various tournaments over the summer and then play professionally.

— by Patrick Mason

Kim Scraper, field hockey

The Iowa field-hockey team had the most impressive turnaround on campus during the 2011 season. The squad rebounded from a winless Big Ten season in 2010 to finish 15-5 as the No. 12 team in the country in 2011; Iowa qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the 21st time in school history.

Much of the Hawkeyes' 2011 success was due to sophomore forward Kim Scraper. The Canadian was Iowa's leading scorer and netted 19 goals on the season, the most by a Hawkeye since All-American Lauren Pfeiffer scored 20 in 2008.

Scraper was one of the nation's best goal-scorers, as she finished third in goals per game. She was also ninth in the nation in points (players are credited with 2 points for a goal and 1 for an assist.)

Scraper wasn't even the team's leader in shots, which speaks to her efficiency. She recorded the Hawkeyes' best shooting percentage, and the team entered the NCAA Tournament ranked 12th in the nation.

The forward was at her best during Iowa's seven-game winning streak, when she scored 13 goals and recording her first career assist.

Scraper was honored as a second-team regional All-American and ended her season by scoring Iowa's final three goals of the year: a goal in the Big Ten Tournament loss against Michigan and two in their season-ending loss to Maryland in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Iowa field-hockey program rose back to its expected national prominence in 2011, and leading scorer Kim Scraper's performance in that effort deserves recognition as the DI's Female Athlete of the Year.

— by Ryan Murphy

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