Dec. 26, 2003

Three Notre Dame women’s soccer players are finalists for major awards from the Soccer Buzz internet site, with senior defender Melissa Tancredi one of 12 finalists for the Soccer Buzz player-of-the-year award while two Notre Dame freshmen – defender Christie Shaner (Ampler, Pa.) and midfielder Jen Buczkowski (Elk Grove, Ill.) – are among the 12 finalists for rookie of the year. Both awards are based on voting by Division I coaches and the Soccer Buzz staff and are scheduled to be announced in late Dec., with the Soccer Buzz All-America and Freshman All-America teams also yet to be announced.

Tancredi’s earlier honors include second team All-American from the National Soccer Coaches Association and BIG EAST Conference defensive player of the year. She also was one of the 15 final candidates for the Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy, presented by the NSCAA as the Division I player-of-the-year award.

Shaner was the 2003 BIG EAST rookie of the year and a second team all-BIG EAST selection, with Buczkowski joining her on the BIG EAST all-rookie team. UNC and Santa Clara joined Notre Dame as the only teams with multiple players among the 12 Soccer Buzz rookie-of-the-year finalists.

Tancredi – who has the option to apply for a fifth year of eligibility in 2004 – joined Tennessee junior Keeley Dowling, UNC senior Cat Reddick and UCLA senior Nandi Pryce as the four defenders among the player-of-the-year finalists. She is one of six finalists who are set to return in 2004, with the others including five sophomores: North Carolina M Lori Chalupny and F Lindsay Tarpley, Virginia M Kelly Hammond, Portland M Lindsey Huie and Kansas F Caroline Smith. In addition to the above players, the other finalists include West Virginia senior F Chrissie Abbott, Penn State senior M Joanna Lohman and BYU senior M Aleisha Rose.

The other rookie-of-the-year finalists include two each from UNC (D Jessica Maxwell and F Heather O’Reilly) and Santa Clara (G Julie Ryder and M Lauren Zealear), plus Florida D Melanie Booth, Tennessee M Ali Christoph, Clemson M Courtney Foster, Portland D Stephanie Lopez, Virginia D Becky Sauerbunn and USC F Anna Tantillo.

Tancredi – known for her wide array of skills, including dominating play in the air and the ability to quickly join the attack – burst onto the national scene in 2003 while leading Notre Dame’s dominating backline from her central defender spot. She combined with Shaner as key member of the ’03 Irish defense that allowed just 12 goals in 24 games, finished 5th in the nation with a 0.49 goals-against avg. (3rd in ND history) and 4th nationally with 15 shutouts, compiled a 956-minute shutout streak that ranks 5th in NCAA history, totaled 20 more goals (73) than opponent shots on goal allowed (53), set an ND record for consecutive games without facing a deficit (16) and tied another team mark for consecutive games without allowing multiple goals (24).

A converted forward, Tancredi also led ND’s 2003 defenders in scoring with four goals and five assists in 21 games (20 starts) while regularly pushing into the attack, with her limited late-season play (due to injury) contributing to the Irish losing three of their final five games.

Shaner became the third ND player ever to take home the BIG EAST’s top rookie honor, joining F/M Jenny Streiffer (’96) and D Vanessa Pruzinsky (’99) in that distinction. She appeared in 23 of 24 games in 2003 (starting 20), using her strength on restart services to assist on three goals while scoring in the NCAA first-round win over Loyola Chicago. Shaner also was named defensive MVP at the Santa Clara Classic, after helping limit Stanford and SCU to three combined shots on goal.

Buczkowski was a central member of the Irish midfield throughout the 2003 season, appearing in all 24 games (23 starts) while totaling four goals and six assists. She was named offensive MVP of the ND Classic after totaling 2G-3A in wins over ASU and Oklahoma and added a pair of goals in the NCAA win over Loyola Chicago.

Here are updated bio notes on Tancredi:

Melissa Tancredi (Sr., D; Ancaster, Ontario) – Top ’03 honors have included NSCAA second team All-America, BIG EAST defensive player of the year and one of 15 final candidates for Hermann Trophy … known for her wide array of skills, including dominating play in the air and ability to quickly join the attack … shifted to forward after ND fell behind 2-0 vs. Boston College in ’03 BIG EAST semifinals and promptly sent home a header for her fourth goal of the season (to go along with five assists) … formed the core of ’03 defense that allowed just 12 goals in 24 games, highlighted by a 10-game shutout streak that ranks fifth in NCAA history … led ND defenders with 13 points (4G-5A), starting 21 games (three missed due to injury) with one GWG … her absences in ’03 were significant, with the Irish losing to Michigan (3-2) while struggling in 1-0 wins at Pittsburgh and Seton Hall (just 4-3 scoring edge in those games) … led dominating defensive effort that included: just 53 opponent shots on goal (2.2 per game); a 0.49 team GAA that ranked 5th in nation; a team-record span of 16 games without a deficit; tying another team record by going 24 consecutive games without allowing multiple goals; and allowing just two ’03 opponents to come back and tie the Irish (Santa Clara and Miami, in BE quarterfinal) … first field player ever to earn a top BIG EAST honor despite having no previous all-BIG EAST recognition … ND’s fifth recipient of the BIG EAST defensive player of the year award in the last seven years … a converted forward who missed all of the 2000 season due to injury and played at forward in ’01 before shifting to the defense in the middle of the ’02 season … follows Kate Sobrero (’95-’97), Jen Grubb (’96-’99) and Monica Gonzalez (’01) and Candace Chapman (’02) as ND’s fifth defender to earn NSCAA All-America honors.