ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) announced its women's soccer all-conference teams and major award winners for the 2017 season on Monday with Southern Vermont College claiming a pair of the top accolades while five other Mountaineers garnered league recognition.
SVC senior keeper Melissa Mascari (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.) collected the second NECC Goalkeeper of the Year honor in her career while she also made her way onto the All-NECC First Team. Freshman midfielder Jayne Wierzbicki (Wilmington, Mass.) was tabbed the NECC Rookie of the Year—that marking the fourth consecutive season that Southern Vermont has been bestowed with the laurel; Wierzbicki was also voted onto the All-NECC Second Team.
Junior defender Molly Madore (Higganum, Conn.) and sophomore midfielder Taylor Mallett (Berwick, Maine) joined Mascari on the All-NECC First Team while junior defender Naya Cerda (West Islip, N.Y.) and freshman forward Rileigh Griffiths (Milford, N.Y.) both made their way onto the All-NECC Third Team. Additionally, sophomore Ashley Blom (Manorville, N.Y.) was selected to represent SVC on the NECC All-sportsmanship Team.
"I'm proud of all of these players for their accomplishments this season," Southern Vermont seventh-year head coach Michael Zauzig said. "All of them had an important impact on our team and deserve credit for helping us be successful."
Mascari is reeling in the second All-NECC First Team honor of her career after her tremendous, collegiate tenure-concluding season; she had previously picked it up in her rookie year of 2014, and she was then named to the Second Team in 2015 and Third Team in 2016. She was named the NECC Player of the Week once this season while breaking every SVC all-time goalkeeping record: wins (37), shutouts (26), saves (552), goals against average (1.28), and winning percentage (.549). Mascari posted a school-best 0.60 GAA this year with 10 shutouts on the campaign—that also being a new season best for Southern Vermont.
"I'm proud that Melissa ends her career with this award," Zauzig said. "She has worked extremely hard and deserves credit for her impact on the 2017 season. There's no denying that Melissa has helped take our program to another level. She's clearly one of the best goalkeepers in New England and was excellent all year."
Wierzbicki continues the recent tradition of the league's best rookies hailing from SVC; Mascari won the NECC Rookie of the Year award in 2014, Madore took it home in 2015, and now-sophomore Dani Biggers (Broadalbin, N.Y.) was the 2016 recipient. Wierzbicki was named the NECC Rookie of the Week twice this season, and she notched a team-leading 11 goals for the Mountaineers. Five of her scores came in Conference action, and four were game winners during 2017. She also had a pair of assists to tally 24 points, overall.
"Jayne had a tremendous year, and it was easy to see her impact on each match," Zauzig commented of his rookie. "She's fun to watch and has the ability to change a game in a moment. Equally impressive is her work ethic each day at training. I believe she can find another gear, and we can't wait to see that in 2018."
Madore is making her way onto the All-NECC First Team for the third year in-a-row—becoming the first-ever player in team history to accomplish that feat. She was instrumental in Southern Vermont allowing just 6.83 shots on goal per game with a huge presence in the SVC backfield. The junior captain was also versatile in the course of the season and moved around the pitch when needed—that allowing her to add six goals and two assists to her career line. After she broke the program's all-time scoring and points records last year, she became the first Mountaineer to crack the 30-goal career mark in 2017.
"This award cements Molly's legacy at SVC and in the NECC," Zauzig said. "Due to certain circumstances, we had to find the best option for her to stay on the field. We knew she would be good as a center back, but her game went to another level. This proves that she is going to have an impact on matches no matter where she plays—forward, midfield, or center back."
Mallett is garnering the second all-conference accolade of her career after she was voted onto the All-NECC Second Team in 2016. She was excellent on both ends of the field as she helped the defense bunker down when needed while also creating offensive opportunities for the Mountaineers. The sophomore notched seven goals and an assist on the campaign with four of her strikes coming against the league. Mallett had one game winner on the year—that being an early goal that made way for SVC to take a big 1-0 win at Becker College late in the season.
"Taylor has an engine that doesn't quit; she will never get out-worked on the soccer field," Zauzig commented. "'Reliable' and 'consistent' are the best words to describe her. She's a box-to-box midfielder who commits to both sides of play. She's an excellent defender and also has the ability to change the game with the ball at her feet going forward."
Cerda is collecting the first all-conference honor of her career after having a strong effect in the Southern Vermont defensive unit. She was a shutdown defender around the SVC penalty area, and her vision and guidance to the rest of the backfield was clearly evident to the league. Additionally, the junior had two goals and an assist with one of her scores being on a penalty kick.
"In my opinion, Naya is one of the top defenders in the Conference," Zauzig said. "I believe that her quality is expected, and she doesn't get the credit she truly deserves. She reads the game well, defends well in 1-on-1 situations, and is excellent in the air. There's no denying her partnership with Molly and organization of the back four made us successful this year."
Griffiths had an outstanding freshman season for the Mountaineers as she scored four goals and added an assist to her line. Three of her scores were game winners with one of those being an overtime strike; she was named the NECC Rookie of the Week in mid-September for that timely tally.
"We are proud of Rileigh's impact in 2017," Zauzig said. "Her ability to hold the ball under pressure and distribute helped make us dangerous in the attacking half. Her growth each day was fantastic, and she's another player we believe could find another gear in the 2018 season."
Blom improved upon her solid freshman season to support the Southern Vermont defensive midfield and help start the Mountaineers' attack. She was great in turning corner kicks and free-kick set pieces into dangerous opportunities for SVC—notching three assists on the year while also tacking up a goal. In addition to that, she was consistently a good teammate and opponent and respected the game, its players, fans, and officials.
"Sportsmanship is a priority for our coaching staff and on our team," Zauzig added. "Ashley is a class act and plays the game with integrity. She's a great representative of Southern Vermont College on, and off, the field."
All-Conference teams and the league's top award winners are determined by voting from the league's coaches after the regular season and prior to the start of the playoff tournament.
2017 NECC Women's Soccer All-Conference Teams & Major Award Winners
Player of the Year – Karlie Rubin, Lesley
Goalkeeper of the Year – Melissa Mascari, Southern Vermont
Rookie of the Year – Jayne Wierzbicki, Southern Vermont
Coach of the Year – Paul Vasconcelos, Lesley
All-NECC First Team
F – Lindsey Keith, Becker (Jr., Sutton, Mass.)
F – Karlie Rubin, Lesley (Sr., San Diego, Calif.)
F – Jailinne Ruiz, Bay Path (Jr., Hadley, Mass.)
F – Brie Voight, Elms (Sr., Springfield, Mass.)
M – Mackenzie LaRochelle, Elms (Sr., Chicopee, Mass.)
M – Taylor Mallett, Southern Vermont (So., Berwick, Maine)
M – Jacqueline Soucia, Elms (Sr., Belchertown, Mass.)
D – Samantha Turnbull, Lesley (Sr., Holtsville, N.Y.)
D – Silvana Tellerico, Elms (Sr., Southington, Conn.)
D – Molly Madore, Southern Vermont (Jr., Higganum, Conn.)
GK – Melissa Mascari, Southern Vermont (Sr., Saratoga Springs, N.Y.)
All-NECC Second Team
F – Samantha Bessey, Lesley (Jr., Algonquin, Ill.)
F – Angelina Estrada, Elms (Sr., Springfield, Mass.)
F – Elena Helming, Bay Path (Sr., Maplewood, N.J.)
F – Jordan Mitchell, Lesley (Jr., Sachse, Texas)
M – Rebekah Herring, Bay Path (Jr., Springfield, Mass.)
M – Ciara McKissick, Becker (Jr., Charlton, Mass.)
M – McKenna Straub, Lesley (Jr., Junction City, Ore.)
M – Jayne Wierzbicki, Southern Vermont (Fr., Wilmington, Mass.)
D – Tiana Edwards, Mitchell (Sr., Hartford, Conn.)
D – Kyra Harbus, Lesley (Jr., Ventura, Calif.)
D – Shannon Walsh, Newbury (Sr., Massapequa, N.Y.)
GK – Jordyn Martel, Becker (Jr., Chicopee, Mass.)
All-NECC Third Team
F – Rileigh Griffiths, Southern Vermont (Fr., Milford, N.Y.)
F – Katie Hanrahan, Wheelock (Fr., New London, Conn.)
M – Rachel Buckley, Lesley (Jr., San Diego, Calif.)
M – Kelsey Shea, Elms (Jr., Belchertown, Mass.)
M – Kyra Teixeira, Becker (Fr., Old Lyme, Conn.)
D – Jillian Barry, Bay Path (Gr., Jewett City, Conn.)
D – Meghan Bealka, Becker (Sr., Freetown, Mass.)
D – Naya Cerda, Southern Vermont (Jr., West Islip, N.Y.)
D – Lillian Doherty, Elms (Fr., Glastonbury, Conn.)
GK – Rebecca Molin, Elms (So., West Hartford, Conn.)
NECC All-sportsmanship Team
Jailinne Ruiz, Bay Path (Jr., Hadley, Mass.)
Jordyn Martel, Becker (Jr., Chicopee, Mass.)
Kiara Andreozzi, Dean (Fr., Waterville, Maine)
Antriese Suarez, Elms (So., Amherst, Mass.)
Katelyn Scott, Lesley (So., Glendora, Calif.)
Lindsey Fairbank, Mitchell (Fr., Newington, Conn.)
Amanda Cardoso, Newbury (So., Watertown, Mass.)
Ashley Blom, Southern Vermont (So., Manorville, N.Y.)
Jordan Stevens, Wheelock (Fr., Pittsfield, Vt.)
– #LetsGoSVC –