SAINT LEO, Fla. – Saint Leo University women’s soccer player Hannah Beard can exclaim that she stood head and shoulders above the rest of the Sunshine State Conference as she was named the 2008 Player of the Year. Beard was joined by three other Lions in the All-Conference awards as seniors Lauren Hudson and Lizzie Seedhouse as well as freshman Pia Soesemann earned Second Team nods as the Sunshine State Conference released the list on Thursday.
Beard marks the women’s soccer teams’ first-ever player of the year and is another notch in the belt of Head Coach Ged O’Connor, who has seen the program rise from the 1-9-2 season in 2002, to having the conference’s best player in 2008.
The tall and speedy forward, who was also named the Offensive Player of the Year and to the First Team, was a prolific scorer for Saint Leo and led the league in a number of offensive categories. She ranked first in the SSC with 44 points and tied for first with 12 assists. She is also in the top-10 in the nation in scoring (6th) and assists (9th).
A native of Liverpool, England, Beard also ranked second with 16 goals and an average of 0.94 goals per game. Earning the conference player of the week award in September, Beard is also a performer in the classroom as she was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District team as well.
Hudson, Seedhouse and Soesemann all made the Second Team as Hudson has a tremendous year in goal for the Lions. She saw over 1550 minutes in goal and only allowed 11 goals in 17 games. She holds nearly every Saint Leo goalkeeping record, including one she set this year. The Odessa, Fla. native posted five-straight shutouts in 535 minutes and 10 clean sheets this season.
Soesemann had a breakout freshman year as she scored 12 goals and, accompanied with four assists, had 28 points in 2008. The Berlin, Germany native, along with Seedhouse helped push the Lions to a 15-4 overall record. Seedhouse, hailing from Sheffield, England, is in her fifth year at Saint Leo. She chipped in four goals and anchored a Lion defense that only allowed 13 goals the entire year.
A total of 23 student-athletes representing seven institutions were named to the 2008 All-Sunshine State Conference Women's Soccer Team. In addition to Beard’s honors, Rollins' Dana Merrill was chosen Defensive Player of the Year, while her coach, Tony Amato, was tabbed Coach of the Year. Lynn's Melissa Ortiz was named Freshman of the Year.
Voting for the all-conference women's soccer team was conducted among the league's soccer coaches and sports information directors.