Barbaresi Named SSC Player of the Year as Lions Dominate All-Conference Squad

WINTER PARK, Fla. – Adding to an already stellar season, the sixth-ranked Saint Leo women's soccer team dominated the 2011 All-Sunshine State Conference women's soccer team, announced Wednesday by league officials.  Headlining the Green and Gold was Cassie Barbaresi, who collected the coveted Player of the Year title, while head coach Ged O'Connor earned his first ever nod as SSC Coach of the Year.

A total of 24 student-athletes have been selected as members of the 2011 All-Sunshine State Conference Women's Soccer Team. Barbaresi and Lynn's Melissa Ortiz were chosen as Co-Players of the Year.  Ortiz was also tabbed Offensive Player of the Year.  Rollins' Michelle Dillingham was recognized as Defensive Player of the Year, while Ari Foreman was named Freshman of the Year, helping the Lions to capture three of the five to spots on this year's All-Conference awards.

A senior, Barbaresi posted 23 points for Saint Leo. She tied for third in the league in total points and ranked third with nine assists. A native of Bradenton, Fla., Barbaresi's seven goals tied for eighth in the SSC.

In his sixth season at Saint Leo, O'Connor led the Lions to the first SSC regular-season title in program history. O'Connor's squad has posted an impressive 15-1-1 overall record, going unbeaten in league play with a 7-0-1 mark. The Lions surrendered only two goals in SSC play. Currently ranked No. 6 in the latest NSCAA Division II Coaches Poll, The Green and Gold fielded the league's top-scoring team this fall. The Lions led the SSC in both points (7.9 per game) and goals (2.8 per game).

Foreman made an immediate impact in her debut season at Saint Leo, playing in 12 games with 10 starts. Making her way to the SSC from Tinton Falls, N.J., Foreman tallied 11 points, including four goals and three assists.

The Lions placed a total of six student-athletes on this year's All-Conference team, with four picking up First Team accolades.  Joining Barbaresi on the top tier were Dari Alcantara, Aija Bent-Trinder, and Laura Carstens, who earned an At-Large spot thanks to her outstanding performance between the posts as a freshman.  Senior Pia Soesemann wrapped up the list with a selection to the Second Team despite missing half of the season due to injury.

Earning All-SSC First Team recognition with Barbaresi, Alcantara, Bent-Trinder, Carstens, Ortiz, and Dillingham were: forward Ali Schrader (Rollins); midfielders Melissa Madrid (Barry) and Gabby Russo (Tampa); defenders Anita Cox (Rollins), and Charlotte Murrell (Rollins); and at-large selection Emma Karp (Barry).

Named to the All-SSC Second Team with Soesemann were: forwards Casey Lademann (Florida Tech) and Chelsea Pushman (Florida Tech); midfielders Paula Lillsjo (Florida Tech), Ashley Waplinger (Rollins), and Kelly Whittaker (Florida Tech); defenders Ann-Marie Helgestad (Florida Tech), Lauren Impey (Lynn), and Rachael Reid (Nova Southeastern); goalkeeper Mist Eliasdottir (Florida Tech); and at-large selection Shannon Walisch (Tampa).

Tampa goalkeeper Emelie Karstrom received honorable mention.

Voting for the All-SSC team was conducted among the league's soccer coaches and sports information directors. 

The Lions return to action on Friday, November 4, when they host the 2011 Sunshine State Conference women's soccer tournament.  The top-seeded Lions will square off against fourth-seed Tampa at 11 a.m., followed by second-seed Rollins and third-seed Florida Tech at 2:30 p.m.  The winners of both contests will advance to the Tournament Championship, to be held at Saint Leo on Sunday, November 6.  For full coverage and information, visit SaintLeoLions.com/ssctourney.