SPARTANBURG, S.C. - After going unbeaten in four of five matches to close the regular season, the College of Charleston women's soccer team placed five players on the All-Southern Conference teams as announced by the league office on Tuesday afternoon.
The Cougars' successful close to the season assured them the third seed in the SoCon Championships and home field advantage which they utilized in a 3-0 defeat of Elon in the opening round.
The league's coaches took notice and voted five Cougars onto the teams which tied for the league high. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own players for the balloting.
Sarah Schaidle (Simpsonville, S.C.) and Hannah Gmerek (Anderson, S.C.) were first-team selections, Hope Atkinson (Rumson, N.J.) was a second-team selection and rookies Alli Brashear (Brunswick, Ga.) and Sarah Cardamone (Downingtown, Pa.) were included on the all-freshman team.
"It's an incredible honor for these five players to be selected to the 2011 All-Southern Conference teams," said head coach Christian Michner. "We are very proud of their accomplishments this year and they've all been an integral part of our success. To be selected by the head coaches of the opposing teams says a lot about the respect that they have as players throughout the league. But, none of this is possible for them without their teammates and much of the credit goes to them."
Schaidle, a junior midfielder, is a spark for the Cougar offense and leads the 2011 team in shots. She ended the regular season as the team leader in goals with seven. Schaidle is credited with three-game winning goals including two crucial ones in one-goal wins over SoCon opponents Davidson and Chattanooga. Schaidle is a consistent competitor and averages nearly 85 minutes per match on the field.
Senior midfielder Gmerek also earned first-team honors after her five-goal, four-assist senior season. She maintains a defensive focus but threatens other teams with her game-changing pace out of the back on counter opportunities. Gmerek stood out against Furman when she scored the Cougars' lone two goals to draw with the Paladins and earn a point in the conference standings. Gmerek has started in all 20 matches for the Cougars and also averages over 80 minutes per game.
This is the second season in a row Schaidle and Gmerek garnered all-conference honors as both were included on the second team in 2010.
Atkinson was integral to the Cougars' late-season success as she netted six goals in CofC's final six games to climb to the team lead in goals and points. The senior forward netted two goals in the Cougars' opening-round win over Elon to help CofC advance in the tournament. Atkinson serves as a leader both on and off the field and is extremely deserving of the all-conference honor.
First-year players Cardamone and Brashear made and immediate impact on the field and earned the league's coaches' recognition amongst the top freshmen.
Brashear scored goals in back-to-back games against Samford and Chattanooga and became an every-day starter in the Cougars' remaining nine games. She also has three assists on the year. She is a very creative and technical player who will clearly have an outstanding career at CofC.
Cardamone has been the Cougars' leading playmaker and sits atop the SoCon with 11 assists this season. She has a creative field vision and impeccable timing both on and off the ball which have been vital in sparking chances at goal. She registered assists on all three goals the Cougars scored against Elon in that opening-round victory on Sunday afternoon.
Tournament No. 1 seed and regular-season champion Samford put four players on the first team and head coach Todd Yelton was named the Coach of the Year after guiding the Bulldogs to a 9-0-2 record in SoCon play.
"Coach Yelton has done an outstanding job with his program and is certainly well deserving of being our league's Coach of the Year," said Michner. "To navigate through the entire conference season undefeated is remarkable when you look at the strength of this league. So, congratulations to Todd and his staff for this award. His team will be the heavy favorites to win it all this weekend in Greensboro."
Rachel Shelnutt of Furman and Becca Fisher of Davidson were the Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, respectively.
The Cougars continue their run for the SoCon Championship with a semifinal match against seventh-seed Georgia Southern on Friday, Nov. 4 at 7:30 p.m. on the campus of UNC Greensboro.