April 23, 2009
FAIRFIELD, CT - Sacred Heart senior Amanda Williams (Monroe, CT) was named the 2009 Northeast Conference Women's Lacrosse Player of the Year in a vote conducted by the league's head coaches. Pioneer head coach Laura Cook was voted NEC Coach of the Year by her peers after guiding the Pioneers to a share of their second-straight NEC regular season title.
Williams also earned a spot on the All-NEC first team and is joined by senior midfielder Mary Montesarchio (Cortlandt Manor, NY) and junior goalkeeper Chelsea Wagner (Aurora, CO). Three Pioneers earned All-NEC second team honors in junior attacker Carissa Hauser (East Northport, NY), junior defender Jackie Pierce (Cortlandt Manor, NY) and freshman midfielder Kate Kmiotek (Farmingville, NY).
A second team all-conference honoree in each of the last two seasons, Williams becomes the first Sacred Heart player to earn NEC Player of the Year accolades. With a breakout season, she emerged as the league's most prolific scorer and enters the postseason leading the NEC with 51 goals and 72 points. Both marks set new single-season school records and boosted her career totals to 130 goals and 171 points. Williams currently paces the NEC and ranks 12th nationally in points per game (4.5) and 23rd in goals per game (3.19). The senior attacker, who was a two-time NEC Player of the Week, has scored at least twice in 12 straight games heading into the Pioneers' semifinal playoff matchup. She is also third on the circuit with 12 free position goals and sits second on the Pioneers with 21 caused turnovers. Williams, who hails from Monroe, CT, also delivered a clutch performance for Sacred Heart on Sunday, scoring two goals in overtime - including the game-winner - in her team's 10-9 triple overtime win over Wagner that clinched the top seed in the NEC Tournament for the Pioneers.
Now in her tenth season, Cook has elevated the Pioneers into perennial championship contenders and guided the program to its first NEC title in 2008. Sacred Heart has captured a share of the regular season crown in each of the last two seasons and posted a 14-2 NEC mark over that time span. Dating back four years, Sacred Heart has compiled a 26-6 league record and reached the conference playoffs on each occasion. Despite the loss of three all-conference players to graduation, Cook and the Pioneers found ways to win all season, finishing 4-0 in one-goal games and 2-0 in overtime contests. Cook also won NEC Coach of the Year honors back in 2006.
Montesarchio joins a select group of four-time all-conference performers and has collected three consecutive first team nods. This season, she is third on the Pioneers in goals (30), assists (18) and points (48), and rank ninth in the league in assists (1.12 apg) and tenth in scoring (3.0 ppg). With 178 career points, the crafty veteran is the third-leading active point producer in the conference. Montesarchio was tabbed NEC Player of the Week on March 23. Wagner's terrific play in net for the Pioneers resulted in a pair of NEC Defensive Player of the Week awards for the lone all-star who does not hail from the east coast. A product of Aurora, CO, her 8.64 goals against average and .556 save percentage place her second in the league in both categories entering the playoffs. Wagner's played has also earned her national recognition with top-ten NCAA rankings in save percentage (third), goals against average (ninth) and saves per game (tenth, 10.50 per game).
SHU's Hauser is back for a second go-round on the second team after finishing the regular season as one of the top-playmakers and scorers in the league. She ranks third in the NEC with 1.69 apg and is fourth on the NEC scoring chart with 3.75 ppg. Hauser also contributes 3.0 draw controls per game, the fifth-best mark on the circuit, and her 33 goals are second-most on the Pioneers. Her ten-point effort against Robert Morris on April 3rd ranks Hauser second on the 2009 NEC single-game list. As one of SHU's defensive leaders, Pierce heads into the playoffs with 27 ground balls, 25 draw controls and 16 caused turnovers, all top-five numbers on a stingy Pioneer defense. As one of just two freshmen to earn all-NEC recognition, Kmiotek posted team-high figures for the Pioneers in ground balls (39) and caused turnovers (22), and stands among the top-ranked league players in both per-game categories with 2.44 ground balls and 1.38 caused turnovers. Kmiotek also registered an NEC single-game season-high by causing seven turnovers against Bryant on March 29th.
The defending NEC Champion Pioneers will open defense of their title on Friday afternoon as they take on the #4 seeded Monmouth Hawks at 12:00 pm on Campus Field. The winner will move on to Sunday's Championship game against the winner of the #2 seed Quinnipiac and #3 seed Mount St. Mary's. Game time on Sunday is scheduled for 1:00 pm.