Connecticut College's Kempainen Claims Player of the Year Honors
HADLEY, Mass. – Connecticut College midfielder Astrid Kempainen (Chazy, N.Y.) has been selected as the 2014 NESCAC Player of the Year after compiling 19 points with a league-best nine assists during her senior campaign. Three of her five goals on the season have been game-winning markers. Kempainen helped the Camels earn their first NESCAC Championship on Sunday and establish a new single-season program record in wins (15). She joins Christa Toeresz (2002) as the only Connecticut College players to garner Player of the Year accolades. The Camels look to extend their season on Saturday when they start the NCAA Tournament against Swarthmore.
Joining Kempainen among the first-team midfielders are Williams junior Mai Mitsuyama (Natick, Mass.) and Middlebury junior Hannah Robinson (Davidson, N.C.), who are repeat first-team selections. Mitsuyama helped dictate play on both ends of the field for the Ephs, who will host NCAA first- and second-round games after earning an at-large berth. She is tied for third in the league with six assists in 18 starts this season. Meanwhile, Robinson compiled eight points on three goals and two assists in 17 starts for the Panthers.
Junior Jamie Hofstetter (Chester, N.J.) of Bowdoin is the lone repeat all-conference selection among All-NESCAC First Team forwards after being named to the 2013 Second Team. Hofstetter leads the NCAA Tournament-bound Polar Bears offensively with 17 points on six goals and five assists. The other two First Team forwards include Williams sophomores Kristi Kirshe (Franklin, Mass.) and Audrey Thomas (Bellevue, Wash.). Both players provided a strong 1-2 punch for the Ephs offense, as they each amassed a league-high 12 goals and five game-winning tallies. Kirshe added four assists to pace the conference in scoring at 28 points, while Thomas has 26 points.
Four-time All-NESCAC selection Catharine Greer (Rye, N.Y.) of Tufts headlines the First Team defensive unit. The senior adds another post-season accolade to her list of credentials after being named First Team in 2012 and 2013, Second Team in 2011 and receiving Rookie of the Year honors in 2011. She notched three goals in 12 starts this season for the Jumbos after previously scoring one goal in her previous three seasons combined. Amherst senior Maya Jackson-Gibson (Amherst, N.Y.) moved up to the First Team after having been named to the Second Team in 2012 and 2013 after helping the Jeffs earn an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament. Jackson-Gibson anchors an Amherst defense that has only allowed nine goals this season heading into Saturday’s first round action. Senior Kathleen Smith (Oakton, Va.) of Bowdoin and sophomore Cathy Higgins (West Hartford, Conn.) of Connecticut College round out the list of defenders. Smith started all 16 games for the Polar Bears, and solidifies a defense that has surrendered 10 goals. Higgins is a big reason for the Camels’ success this season as the Connecticut College defense has allowed 10 goals and compiled 11 shutouts in 18 games.
Bowdoin’s Bridget McCarthy (Hopkinton, Mass.) was selected as the league’s top goalkeeper. The junior has given up just eight goals this season and leads the conference in save percentage (.899). She also ranks among the NESCAC leaders in goals against average (0.53) and saves (71). She is 12-4-0 as the Polar Bears head into NCAA Tournament action this weekend.
Connecticut College first-year Michelle Medina (Hartford, Conn.) was named NESCAC Rookie of the Year. The forward ranks third among all NESCAC players with 22 points, while being tied for third in the league with six assists and ranking fourth with eight goals. As a result of her efforts, Medina also received Second Team recognition. She is the fourth Camel player to receive the award along with Christa Thoeresz (2001), Claire Linden (2004) and teammate Annie Higgins (2013).
Norm Riker of Connecticut College earned NESCAC Coach of the Year honors for the first time in his four years at the helm. After missing the NESCAC Championship last year, the Camels jumped up the standings this season to earn the No. 3 seed. It has been a record-breaking season for Connecticut College, as it claimed the first conference championship in program history and first NESCAC team title in school history across all sports to go along with a program-record 15 wins.
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