Five Spartans earn Southern Conference postseason honors
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – UNCG's women's soccer team placed four players on the All-Southern Conference teams and one on the league's all-freshman team in voting by the conference's 11 head coaches, the SoCon announced Tuesday.
The coaches selected two 11-member all-conference teams as well as an 11-member all-freshman team and individual awards. They were not allowed to vote for their own players or themselves.
Kristin Player, Karin Sendel, Stephanie Partenheimer and Kelsey Kearney earned all-conference honors, while Ashley Stokes was an all-freshman pick. The four all-league picks tied for most in the conference with regular-season champion Samford. Player's first-team selection made it 12 straight seasons that UNCG has had at least one first-team pick.
"We are very excited about the individual recognition our players have received from the conference coaches," UNCG coach Steve Nugent said. "I am very happy to see Kristin Player be recognized for the tremendous player she has become, and the first-team award is very deserving. Karin, Kelsey and Stephanie were 90-minute players throughout the season and gave us their best every day. Kelsey has left an incredible mark on this program that will be hard to match. Ashley Stokes made the best of her chances as a freshmen and her impact will be evident for years to come at UNCG. We are very proud of the girls and wish congratulations to all the conference award winners for 2011."
Player, a redshirt senior, picked up her third all-conference nod and first-team honors for the second time, bookending her career with the distinction after taking first-team honors and league freshman of the year laurels in 2007. This season, the forward from Placentia, Calif., matched her career high with 25 points, scoring eight goals with a career-best nine assists. She did the majority of that damage in conference play, as her 23 points and seven assists against SoCon competition led the league and her eight goals in league play were one off the top mark. She was the SoCon Player of the Week on Oct. 11 and the Disney Soccer/NSCAA National Player of the Week on Oct. 12 after scoring dramatic game-winners in the final seven minutes of matches against The Citadel and College of Charleston.
Sendel earned a spot on the second team for her first career all-conference selection. A junior transfer from Ohio State, the Kiryat Tivon, Israel, native started 18 contests in the midfield for the Spartans, missing just one game while playing for Israel's full national team. Sendel was UNCG's second-leading scorer on the season, scoring nine points on two goals and five assists. One of UNCG's most durable players, Sendel played all but 27 minutes of the Spartans' 11 SoCon matches. She had a breakout game for the Spartans in just her third career game in a UNCG uniform, scoring a goal and dishing off two assists in a 4-1 win over George Mason.
Partenheimer, a team captain, earned a second-team spot for her first career all-conference nod. The redshirt junior from Apex, N.C., started all 19 matches in the defense for UNCG and scored her first career goal this season, on a penalty kick in the Spartans' 4-2 win over The Citadel on Oct. 7. She was part of a defensive unit that allowed just 10 goals and posted three shutouts in SoCon play. With her selection, she and her sister, former Spartan Jenn Partenheimer, become just the second set of sisters to earn All-SoCon honors for UNCG, joining Shannon and Katelynn Donovan.
Kearney concluded her career with her second second-team selection, putting her alongside former Spartan Lynsey McClean as just the second player in school history to earn All-SoCon honors in each of her four seasons on the squad. Unquestionably one of the best keepers in school history, Kearney went 8-8-1 overall with a 1.68 goals against average this season, facing one of the toughest nonconference schedules in the country. In league play, Kearney's numbers improved dramatically, as she was 7-1-1 with a 0.81 GAA and three shutouts against SoCon opponents. The Durham. N.C., native will graduate as UNCG's career leader in shutouts (34), GAA (0.86) and minutes played (6,921:44) and is second in SoCon history in shutouts and third in GAA.
Despite missing a few games with injury this season, Stokes was tied for third on the team in scoring, notching eight points on three goals and two assists. She was second on the squad with two game-winning goals, as she had the decisive strikes against George Mason and Western Carolina. The midfielder/forward from Cary, N.C., also had a goal and an assist in UNCG's win over The Citadel and an assist against Appalachian State.
Furman's Rachel Shelnutt was named the league's player of the year, while Samford's Todd Yelton was the coach of the year. Davidson's Becca Fisher was named freshman of the year.
2011 Women's Soccer All-Southern Conference Team
Player of the Year – Rachel Shelnutt, Sr., F, Furman
Coach of the Year – Todd Yelton, Samford
Freshman of the Year – Becca Fisher, F, Davidson
F Rachel Shelnutt, Furman
F Kristin Player, UNCG
F Sarah Wilkinson, Samford
F Donna-Kay Henry, Chattanooga
MF Sarah Schaidle, College of Charleston
MF Vanessa Aponte, The Citadel
MF Michelle Moll, Samford
D Hannah Gmerek, College of Charleston
D Ali Simpson, Furman
D Sabbath McKiernan-Allen, Samford
GK Alyssa Whitehead, Samford
F Hope Atkinson, College of Charleston
F Mariana Garcia, The Citadel
F Becca Smith, Chattanooga
MF Olivia Mackey, Elon
MF Karin Sendel, UNCG
MF Kayla Beauduy, Western Carolina
D Sophie Newsom, Davidson
D Andrea Keller, Elon
D Stephanie Partenheimer, UNCG
GK Jessica Smith, Furman
GK Kelsey Kearney, UNCG
Ali Brashear, College of Charleston
Sarah Cardamone, College of Charleston
Becca Fisher, Davidson
Rachel Locke, Davidson
Stephanie Piperno, Davidson
India Robinson, Furman
Ali Simpson, Furman
Ashley Stokes, UNCG
Joy Grove, Samford
Brittany Hoffman, Samford
Crystal Mackezyk, Chattanooga
- UNCG -