Nov. 8, 2001
SOMERSET, N.J. – An unprecedented three members of the Notre Dame women’s soccer defensive unit were recognized with first team all-BIG EAST Conference honors Thursday night, at the annual BIG EAST Tournament banquet (see www.bigeast.org for complete list of awards).
Fifth-year player Monica Gonzalez (Richardson, Texas) and freshman Candace Chapman (Ajax, Ontario) earned BIG EAST honors for the first time while junior Vanessa Pruzinsky (Trumbull, Conn.) rounded out Notre Dame’s group of first-team selections, after earning second-team honors in 2000.
It marked the first time in the seven-year history of the awards that three defenders from the same team have earned first team all-BIG EAST honors. The trio also matched the number of previous Notre Dame defenders who have been BIG EAST first-teamers, with that group including four-time honoree Jen Grubb (’96-’99), Kate Sobrero (’96-’97) and Kelly Lindsey (’00). Grubb and Sobrero are the only previous defenders from the same team to be named first team all-BIG EAST (in ’96 and ’97).
The only other time that a school has produced three BIG EAST first-teamers from the same position came in 1995, when Connecticut forwards Jana Carabino, Kerry Connors and Christy Rowe each were named first team all-BIG EAST.
Two other Notre Dame players-senior midielder Mia Sarkesian (Canton, Mich.) and sophomore forward Amy Warner (Albuquerque, N.M.)-earned second team All-BIG EAST honors while Chapman earned a spot on the BIG EAST all-rookie team.
Four of the five Notre Dame honorees (Pruzinsky missed one game due to injury) have started all 17 games this season for the sixth-ranked Irish (14-2-1), who face Boston College in BIG EAST semifinal action on Friday at Rutgers’ Yurcak Stadium (5:00 EST).
West Virginia forward Katie Barnes repeated as the BIG EAST offensive player of the year while Pittsburgh’s Rachel Brown again was the conference’s goalkeeper of the year. Other BIG EAST award winners included UConn’s Casey Zimny (defensive player of the year), Boston College’s Sarah Rahko (midfielder of the year), Carli Lloyd of Rutgers (rookie of the year) and WVU’s Nikki Izzo-Brown (coach of the year).
Gonzalez, Pruzinsky and Chapman have combined with senior Lindsey Jones (South Bend, Ind.) to form an Irish defensive unit that has developed its cohesiveness during the second half of the season, allowing just 13 goals in 17 total games (with just four first-half goals allowed). The Irish defenders have combined with senior goalkeeper Liz Wagner to post seven shutouts this season, plus seven games with one goal allowed, two with two goals allowed and one three-goal game by the opposition.
Gonzalez-who started in the defense at the left back position last season-has settled in at center back, alongside Pruzinsky, while Chapman has made an impressive transition to the right back spot (she played forward prior to her ND career) and Jones has flipped from right to left back.
Chapman also has been a potent offensive threat while seeing some time at forward, ranking sixth on the team in scoring with eight points (three goals, two assists). She scored as both a defender and forward in the 4-0 win at Pittsburgh before converting the late gamewinner as a forward in the 2-1 win at Seton Hall.
The versatile Gonzalez also has been used at midfield and forward during needed spurts over the past two seasons, with her four 2001 points including the first goal in the 2-2 tie with Wisconsin and an assist on Warner’s overtime goal versus Villanova (2-1). She has appeared in 91 career games with the Irish, totaling 17 goals and 17 assists while making 45 starts.
Pruzinsky-a 2001 national player-of-the-year finalist who has started 67 of 68 games during her ND career-registed the first goal of her Irish career in the 2-1 loss at Rutgers.
Sarkesian ranks second on the Irish squad in scoring with a career-best 17 points (6G-5A), highlighted by gamewinning goals in the same week vs. then-No. 3 Nebraska (1-0) and 19th-ranked West Virginia (2-1, OT). She also capped the scoring in the 2-0 BIG EAST quarterfinal win over St. John’s.
Warner is Notre Dame’s third-leading scorer with 15 points (7G-1A), with her season highlights including the second goal in the 2-0 win over then-No. 25 Hartford, both goals in the 2-1 overtime win over Villanova and two goals in the 4-0 win at Miami.
Chapman joins Warner (2000) as two of seven all-time ND players to earn first team all-BIG EAST honors as a freshman, with Chapman and Grubb (’96) ranking as the only Irish defenders to be BIG EAST first-teamers as a rookie. The others include midfielder Anne Makinen (’97) and forwards Monica Gerardo (’95), Jenny Streiffer (’96) and Meotis Erikson (’97).
Seventeen Notre Dame players have combined for 29 first team all-BIG EAST honors since 1995, with that group including six defenders combining 10 first-team awards, three midfielders (nine awards), five forwards (seven awards) and three goalkeepers.