Seniors Graduate in Style
Senior Madison Smith was a standout for the University of Massachusetts in her final season as a Minutewoman. She started all 18 matches in 2015, tallied her first career goal and was named to the Atlantic 10 All-Academic Team. Smith was a 4-year mainstay of UMass’s defensive back line starting 75-of-77 career matches and logging a total of 6,786 minutes. She was integral to 21 shutouts during her collegiate career. Academically, Smith was honored numerous times on the Atlantic 10 Commissioner’s Honor Roll and the UMass Dean’s List. She is also a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.
Senior Jamie Kator contributed several game-winning assists during her final season in the midfield at Vanderbilt University, most notably on Oct. 30 in the regular-season finale against No. 12 Ole Miss. In the 85th minute, Kator dropped a pass to a forward who was outside the box on the left wing and who drilled in a shot for the win, clinching an SEC tournament berth for Vanderbilt for the first time since 2010. As a Commodore, Kator started 48-of-79 career matches, logged a total of 4,451 minutes and scored five goals and 10 assists. Vanderbilt’s 2015 record of 4-4-3 in SEC play marks the team’s first winning season in league action since 2006.
Senior Rachel Ivey capped off an impressive career at James Madison University in 2015, playing in 23 games, logging 924 minutes, notching a pair each of goals and assists, and helping the fourth-seeded Dukes knock off powerhouse William & Mary in thrilling fashion to claim the Colonial Athletic Association tournament title. In her tenure as a Duke, Ivey played in 68 games (starting 13 of them), played a cumulative 2,025 minutes, and scored seven goals (including three game winners) and nine assists. She was named a JMU Athletics Director Scholar-Athlete as a freshman, sophomore and junior (senior awards have not yet been announced) and made the JMU Invitational All-Tournament Team as a junior.
In 2015, senior Danielle Fitzgerald saw action in 11 games at the University of Kentucky, which reached as high as No. 9 nationally in the HeroSports Soccer Poll on Sept. 21, marking the highest-ranking ever for the Kentucky women’s soccer program in its 23-year history. In three of the four years Fitzgerald played for UK, the team made and hosted the NCAA tournament, reaching the “sweet sixteen” round in 2014 for the first time ever. Fitzgerald played in a total of 40 matches as a Wildcat.
Regular-Season Conference Titles
Leading the way with Division I regular-season conference championships were Florida, which took the hotly contested SEC prize in 2015 (freshman Sara Wilson played in 11 games), Howard University (freshman Ta-Tiana Brodie also played in 11 games), which won the SWAC title for the second year in a row, and St. John’s, which shattered records on the way to becoming regular-season champions of the Big East Conference for the first time in their program’s history (freshman Samie Scaffidi saw action in 14 games). As well, UVA won the ACC regular season title, but several of the former Total Futbol players on that team were injured and sat out in 2015.
Christopher Newport University won the Division III Capital Athletic Conference regular-season title in 2015 (junior Katelyn Hurlock played 677 minutes in 17 games), ending with an overall mark of 14-5-1 for the year. Meanwhile, in Division II action, Belmont Abbey claimed the Conference Carolinas title (freshman Ashley Taylor played in 15 matches) and the Davis & Elkins Senators clinched the G-MAC regular-season title and top seed in the conference tournament (freshman Sara Bekenstein played in 13 games, scoring four goals and adding one assist on the season).
Sophomore Hanna Hannesdottir was key in the midfield for the University of Pittsburgh, playing in 18 games.
Sophomores & Juniors Grow into Leadership Roles
After notching two goals and three assists in her first year at Virginia Tech, Laila Gray upped the ante during her sophomore campaign by adding another seven goals and two more assists, including the game-winning goal against Georgetown on Sept. 13. She finished 2015 as the third-leading scorer on a team that has consistently been ranked in the NCAA Division I top ten. Now a key component of VT’s offense, Gray started 20 of 21 games and logged 1,243 minutes. VT finished 5th in the highly competitive ACC (widely regarded as the #1 conference in the country) and made it to round 2 of the NCAA championship playoffs.
University of Pittsburgh sophomore Hanna Hannesdottir played in 18 games in 2015, helping the Panthers to a 10-7-1 overall record with her tactical proficiency in the midfield. Sophomore Kasey Martino started 10 of 17 games for Randolph-Macon, taking 16 shots on goal. And sophomore Jenna Hamilton contributed two goals against Atlantic 10 conference opponents for George Mason, playing in 16 games.
Junior Kara DeGuisto started 16 of 19 games for Elon University, playing 1,473 minutes, while junior Meghan DiPippa started 16 of her 17 matches for St. Joseph’s and scored a goal. Junior Cassie Smith put in another strong year for Eastern Kentucky, playing in 18 games and contributing two goals and two assists.