The Georgia Southwestern women's soccer team recently held its first annual awards banquet to recognize the individual and team accomplishments of the 2009 season, as well as honor the program's four seniors.
Head coach Tony Economopoulos announced the team awards, voted on by the players:
Most Improved: Amanda Canganelli and Laura Lowe
Newcomer of the Year: Ally Canganelli
Defensive Player of the Year: Nicole Hudson
Offensive Player of the Year: Brittney Hill
Most Valuable Player: Elizabeth Keller
In addition, Amber Bahri and Jennifer Starvetsky were presented with Coach's Awards.
The Lady ‘Canes improved dramatically in five different defensive areas in 2009, while setting three new school records in the process. They set school records for fewest goals allowed in a season, lowest goals against average and record for most corner kicks in a game (9).
The GSW defense made considerable progress as goals allowed decreased 58 percent from 2008. Goals allowed per game dropped 46 percent and opponents' shot percentage declined 44.6 percent. The Lady ‘Canes reduced opponents' shots on goal by 32 percent and fans took notice as attendance rose 19.1 percent.
Each year members of the conference vote on a team award and this year the Peach Belt Conference Sportsmanship Award went to the Lady Hurricanes. This marked the first team award the women's soccer program has received in NCAA history.
"This is a great feat to the girls. It showed how hard but fair they played," Economopoulos said.
Academic accomplishments were also highlighted, as the Lady Hurricanes placed two girls on the Peach Belt Conference All-Academic Team. Aubrey Tinklepaugh, from Lawrenceville, holds a 3.44 GPA while majoring in Early Childhood Education. She played in 12 games as a defender for the Lady 'Canes this past season. Team captain Keller recorded a 3.37 GPA in History with a teaching certificate.
Coach Economopoulos stated, "It's a great accomplishment for the girls. This showed how hard they worked on and off the field. A true testament of their dedication to soccer and academics."
As the Lady ‘Canes look to 2010, they said good-bye to three seniors - Jennifer Pittman, Lowe and Keller.
Lowe transferred to GSW from Truett-McConnell College in 2008. In two seasons with the Lady ‘Canes she started 13 matches and accumulated over 1700 minutes of action. The White, Ga. native will graduate in December 2010 with a degree in Physical Education.
Pittman came to Southwestern from Shorter College in 2007. She played three seasons with the Lady ‘Canes and started 37 of 46 matches while logging over 2,500 minutes of play. Pittman, from Hahira, Ga., expects to graduate May 2011 with a degree in Political Science.
Keller was a four-year member of the Lady Hurricanes. The Snellville, Ga. native started 65 contests and amassed over 5,500 minutes of playing time in her four years. Keller recorded 17 goals - including five game winning scores - and seven assists. She will earn her Bachelor's degree in May 2010 (History with a teaching certificate) and remain with the program serving as a graduate assistant next year.
Keller, Pittman, Lowe and former player Brooke Regan (who served as a manager in 2009) received senior gifts.
The Lady ‘Canes will lose some experience on both sides of the ball; however they do have replacements ready to tackle the situation.
"I want to build on the success of last year, while being competitive on and off the field. Making the PBC tournament is very important and winning the NSCAA Academic Award," Economopoulos stated.
The NSCAA is awarded to the team with the highest academic GPA.
The 2010 spring season starts March 26 and runs through April 24.