Nov. 1, 2011
EASTON, Pa. -
Deanna DiCroce was the unanimous pick of Patriot League coaches for Offensive Player of the Year while Brittany Blass was named Rookie of the Year as the 2011 All-Patriot League Field Hockey Team was announced on Tuesday. In addition to Lafayette’s two major awards, the team claimed the most First-Team representatives in the League.
DiCroce wins the Offensive Player of the Year award after being named Patriot League Field Hockey Offensive Player of the Week twice this season, and six times in her career, which ties her for the most all-time in League history. Her third consecutive First-Team nod places her in a class of 20 players who earned three First-Team selections in a career. A Doylestown, Pa. native, DiCroce, becomes the sixth Lafayette student-athlete to take the honor and the first since current assistant coach Jennifer Stone ’04 in 2003. The junior forward leads the League in points (27), and is tied for the top spot in goals (10) and assists (7). She has started every game this season, and Lafayette is 8-0 in games when she finds the back of the cage.
"Deanna has a huge impact on the forward line for us,” head coach Andrew Griffiths said. “Defensively, she forces opponents to make mistakes and is dangerous anytime she gets the ball in the attacking half. She has excellent stickwork in tight spaces, is a powerful athlete and is a challenge for any defender to handle. It is great that she has been recognized as the strongest forward in the league and I think she has the potential to become even better."
Rookie of the Year accolades went to Blass, a freshman from Mountain Top, Pa., who stepped right into the Leopards’ starting lineup from day one. A two-time Rookie of the Week, the midfielder recorded four goals and five assists on the season, including three scores and three helpers in five League games. Blass is Lafayette’s fourth Rookie of the Year award recipient and the first since Meghan Cicchi ’11 in 2007.
"Brittany has stepped in and performed at an unusually high level for a freshman,” Griffiths said of the First-Team member. “She brings an intensity level to our training that has helped make the team better and her performances in games have continued to improve throughout the season. She has excellent tackling skills, is strong on the ball and communicates well. She is an elite competitor and is already one of the top players in the league."
Joining DiCroce and Blass on the All-Patriot League First Team is Carolyn Cabrey, a unanimous First-Team choice. Cabrey, a senior midfielder/defender, makes her third appearance on the First-Team and was one of two players, along with American’s Tatum Dyer, to complete her career as a four-time All-Patriot League selection. Named Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week three times and ECAC Defensive Player of the Week earlier this season, Cabrey led a defensive unit that registered six shutouts and held Colgate and Holy Cross without a shot. The North Wales, Pa. native is tied for third on the squad with six goals, including two game-winners.
"I believe Carolyn is as strong as any player in the Patriot League,” Griffiths added. “This is reflected in that she was a unanimous First-Team selection by the coaches. She thinks like a coach on the field, anticipates the play extremely well and can take control of a game. She has also developed into a more vocal leader this season."
The other First-Team honoree is midfielder/defender Emily Valeo. A junior from Norristown, Pa., Valeo was named Defensive Player of the Week for Sept. 26 - Oct. 2 and earns her second All-Patriot League accolade after being named to the Second Team last season. She ranks third on the team with 15 points and is tied with DiCroce for the Patriot League lead with seven assists.
"Emily has handled the central midfield really effectively this season,” Griffiths said. “Her defensive play has improved, and she is a true attacking threat with the ball. She can eliminate to both sides and has a dangerous overhead passing ability. Her consistency on penalty corners has also been a valuable asset."
Jaclyn White garnered All-Patriot League recognition for the first time in her career, as a Second-Team selection. A junior from Lincoln University, Pa., White started 15 games in the midfield for the Leopards.
"Jaci has improved significantly over the past year,” Griffiths commented. “She brings speed and skill to her side of the midfield, which helps us on both sides of the ball. She has also done really well as a first runner on defensive penalty corners."
The 2011 Patriot League Field Hockey Tournament will be played this weekend, beginning with Friday’s semifinals as No. 4 Bucknell plays No. 1 American at 11 a.m. and No. 3 Lehigh takes on No. 2 Lafayette at 2 p.m. The winners meet for the Patriot League Championship on Saturday at 1 p.m. The event will be held at American’s Reeves Field and will be streamed live on goleopards.com/allaccess