Lizzy Crist is an NCAA soccer champion. She was the 2017 Division III Honda Athlete of the Year and the 2016 National Soccer Coaches Soccer Association National Player of the Year.

A Washington University (St. Louis) graduate, Crist, who attended Minnetonka High School, growing up in Wayzata, was recently named the 2017 NCAA Woman of the Year at a ceremony Oct. 22 in Indianapolis.

Yet her greatest achievements lie ahead of her. She is driven. She is groundbreaking. She is the future.

“I love being able to promote females in STEM or mathematics fields. Growing up, my educational experience was heavy in science and math, something that excited me. But you’re not made aware of something like engineering. It’s something that women aren’t pushed toward. It’s gotten better, but something that can still improve, and over my adulthood that is something I will make a priority to get females excited about science and engineering,” Crist said.

Crist became the fifth NCAA Division III student-athlete to claim the Woman of the Year honor. In its 27th year, honors graduating female student-athletes who have distinguished themselves throughout their collegiate careers in the areas of academic achievement, athletic excellence, service and leadership can be nominated for the award.

Crist certainly is distinguished.

On the soccer field, she led WashU to the 2016 NCAA Division III Women’s Soccer National Championship. She was also the D3soccer.com Goalkeeper of the Year and a NSCAA, HERO Sports and D3soccer.com first-team All-America selection.

She had a record of 19-1-2 mark with a single-season school record 0.29 goals against average. She also set the single-season school record with 13 shutouts, and tied the single-season win total.

Crist was named the NCAA Championship Most Outstanding Defensive Player for the second-consecutive season after posting a 2-0 mark with a 0.90 goals against average in two games at the Final Four.

She helped guide the Bears to the program’s first NCAA Championship in school history and concludes her career as the school’s all-time leader in shutouts (31) and was second in wins (48).

In the classroom, Crist excelled during her four years on the Danforth Campus. She graduated in May with a 3.90 grade point average while majoring in biomedical engineering. Crist was the 2016 NSCAA National Scholar of the Year and College Sports Information Directors of America First-Team Academic All-America and All-District selection.

Currently enrolled in the University of Minnesota Biomedical Engineering Ph.D. program, Crist earned the WashU Department of Biomedical Engineering Outstanding Senior Achievement Award and was the first student in school history to sweep the three major awards at the Chancellor’s Dinner — Ethan A.H. Shepley Award, W. Alfred Hayes Award, A. Gwendolyn Drew Award.

She served as an undergraduate researcher in the transport and tissue engineering laboratory since 2015, and earned summa cum laude and Tau Beta Pi honors in 2017.

WOMAN OF THE YEAR

“It certainly wasn’t easy adjusting to that kind of schedule at WashU. But I was almost immediately surrounded by student-athletes with similar goals and similar priorities, which enables you to kind of balance all of that out. You’re put into this environment that supports you in all of the facets you’re trying to accomplish,” Crist said.

She credits her mother, Susan, and older sister, Katie, for being strong female role models. Katie, along with younger sister, Maggie, also a soccer player, all attended WashU.

“They are both extremely empowered. Both trailblazers in their respective fields. My mom, an entrepreneur, started her own business about 30 years ago. Seeing her balance being a mother, which is an extremely difficult thing in itself, especially with three daughters, to make time to come to all of my games, always cheering, making us dinners and keeping us on track, and being successful professionally, it was inspiring,” Crist said.

Katie Crist, a swimmer at WashU, was first in the pre-med program, balancing sport with study. Seeing that opened Lizzy’s eyes to a reality.

“I truly would have not gone to WashU. I wouldn’t have chose biomedical engineering, or stayed with soccer, if it weren’t for her,” Crist said of her sister.

Crist was among 30 nominees for the award, chosen as one of three finalists from Division III schools. It came as a shock to hear her named called.

“I am still letting it all sink in. I really want my teammates, many of whom who were watching tonight, to know that I could not have done this without them,” Crist said the night of the ceremony.

“As the process would narrow down, there was this huge thrill inside of me. To go and be a part of the top 30, spend about 48 hours with the other nominees, get to know them, it was so cool to hear what all of these female student-athletes did in their field of study and respective sport,” she added. “Being surrounded by so much power and strength, that in itself, was an opportunity to grow. Whether I won or not, just being a part of that was enough.”

Now that the first part of her journey post-high school is over, Crist is excited for the next stage.

“I have found myself gravitating toward cancer research. Specifically looking at cell migration and metastasis and figuring out cancer cell behavior and what makes tumors release those cells. Metastasis is generally what causes death in most cancer patients. I really hope through my Ph.D. to stay in that space, make contributions in developing therapeutics that can target those parts of cancer progression,” Crist said.

Down the road, she’d love to be a professor as well.

“I’ve always had a passion for teaching. Mentoring younger students. There’s this drive, this future ahead of them. Making little impacts on them, seeing where they go, is so rewarding,” Crist said.

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