Wednesday, December 21, 2011
MACON, Ga. – The Atlantic Sun Conference is one of only three conferences in NCAA Division I women’s soccer to have all of its teams win the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Team Academic Award for the 2010-11 academic year. The honor is the A-Sun’s for the second consecutive year.
“This news highlights the quality of student-athletes competing at the highest levels on and off the field in the Atlantic Sun Conference,” said A-Sun Commissioner Ted Gumbart. “I applaud their dedication to excellence, and congratulate the leadership at each institution for fostering such dynamic growth."
Women’s soccer in the A-Sun continues to make headlines, joining the Mid-American Conference and the Sun Belt Conference out of 32 conferences for the honor in which each team posted a team grade point average of 3.0 or higher.
Listed below is each A-Sun team, their coach and the team’s overall qualifying grade point average.
TEAM • COACH • TEAM GPA
Belmont University • Heather Henson • 3.41
East Tennessee State University • Adam Sayers • 3.28
Florida Gulf Coast University • Jim Blankenship • 3.26
Jacksonville University • Brian Copham • 3.14
Kennesaw State University • Rob King • 3.00
Lipscomb University • Jon Ireland • 3.51
Mercer University • Grant Serafy • 3.32
University of South Carolina Upstate • Renee Lopez • 3.33
University of North Florida • Linda Hamilton • 3.17
Stetson University • Julie Orlowski • 3.28
The honor is the latest in a busy and successful 2011 fall season for A-Sun women’s sports that included many notable occasions for its teams and the conference. As if the usual storylines and attention-getting events – the drama of a last-second win, an inspirational story of a team or an individual student-athlete, high levels of achievement both on and off the playing fields, or simply the thrill of good competition – weren’t enough, the A-Sun added even more compelling reasons to be a fan.
MOVIN’ ON UP
A-Sun Women’s Soccer finished 2011 with a final RPI of 22, up five slots from the final RPI of 27 achieved in 2010. A-Sun champion FGCU finished at No. 71, followed by Jacksonville at 120 and ETSU at 133 in the Top 150. A-Sun Volleyball also improved its final RPI in 2011, finishing with a final RPI of 23, up two slots from 2010.
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
In other exciting news, the A-Sun added Northern Kentucky University as a member beginning July 1, 2012. NKU brings a wealth of women’s championship experience to Division I, including four Great Lakes Valley Conference championships in women’s basketball, golf, softball and soccer since 2008. The Norse have also won two Division II national championships in women’s basketball (2000, 2008) six NCAA regional championships, the last coming in 2008, and nine GLVC titles, the last coming in 2009.
MORE IS BETTER
The A-Sun announced the addition of two new women’s sports, sand volleyball and women’s lacrosse, to begin in 2012 and 2013 respectively. The A-Sun will be the first conference in NCAA history to add sand volleyball as a women’s championship sport. Five teams – Jacksonville, Stetson, Florida Gulf Coast, North Florida, and Mercer will compete for the first A-Sun championship in late April 2012 in Jacksonville, Fla.
According to the most current list compiled by the Sand Committee of the AVCA D1 Head Coaches Committee, the A-Sun's quintet comprise one-third of the teams committed to sponsoring a team for the 2012 season. That list also includes Cal State University at Long Beach, Pepperdine, the University of Southern California, the University of Hawaii, Florida State University, the College of Charleston, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Tulane University, Florida Atlantic University, Florida International University, and Webber International (NAIA). Georgia State University has also confirmed its intent to sponsor a team in 2013.
Beginning in 2013 the addition of women’s lacrosse increases the roster of A-Sun women’s sports to 11, as the Dolphins will be joined for competition by sister schools Kennesaw State, Mercer, and Stetson. The A-Sun also accepted Longwood University, the University of Detroit Mercy, and Howard University as affiliate members, giving the A-Sun high quality competition in its first season and the minimum participation requirements (six teams) for access to an NCAA automatic bid to postseason play.
Jacksonville, Longwood, Detroit and Howard already share a familiarity, as they currently compete together in the National Lacrosse Conference (NLC). Jacksonville fielded its first team in 2010, finishing 8-11 in the NLC. In 2011 the Dolphins posted a 14-5 record overall and finished as the NLC regular season champions. More on Women’s Lacrosse Other notable A-Sun team and individual honors are listed below.
NSCAA INDIVIDUAL ALL-REGION HONORS
Five A-Sun women's soccer student-athletes recently earned National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-Region honors. FGCU's KC Correllus earned second team honors, while ETSU's Genna Petersen and Jenna Caudle joined Mercer's Olivia Tucker and Jacksonville's Liz Fink on the third team.
EAGLES FLYING HIGH
FGCU claimed its first A-Sun women’s soccer championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament in its first year of postseason eligibility. The Eagles mirrored the success of FGCU’s men’s team, who claimed the regular season and A-Sun championship titles, also in their first year of eligibility. FGCU was the only school in NCAA Division I this season to claim a men’s and women’s soccer postseason championship. It is also only the fourth time in A-Sun history that both a men's and women's team from the same school won the postseason tournament.
SERVING UP SUCCESS
The Lipscomb Lady Bison won their third consecutive A-Sun volleyball championship in 2011. LU’s third straight A-Sun victory made the Lady Bison one of only six teams in NCAA Division I to win at least their third consecutive conference championship in 2011 (Albany-4, Dayton-3, Penn State-9, Yale-3, and Niagra-3). LU posted a 44-match conference win streak, which at the time was the third-longest streak in the nation. Belmont broke the streak on Oct. 25, but the Lady Bisons defeated the Bruins in the 2011 championship game to punch their third straight ticket to the NCAA Tournament. Lipscomb is only the second program in A-Sun history to win at least three consecutive volleyball championships (UCF 1992-97, 2001-03).
RUNNING AWAY WITH HONORS
Joan Tangwar and Jemeli Sang of USC Upstate rounded out their stellar 2011 campaign by earning USTFCCCA All-Region honors. The pair were the top two finishers at the A-Sun Championship with Sang taking Runner of the Year on her way to the individual title, while Tangwar was the top conference finisher at NCAA Regional competition with a 15th place showing at the NCAA Southeast Regional.
FIRST CLASS RESULTS
The A-Sun introduced its new Academic All-Conference Teams and Scholar Athlete of the Year honors in 2011. Scholar Athlete of the Year winners included: Cross Country – Tessa Hoelfe, Lipscomb; Soccer – Gina Petracco; Volleyball – Maggie Johnson, Belmont. Johnson also shared this year’s volleyball Player of the Year honor with Lipscomb’s Katie Rose.
MORE ON JOHNSON
Belmont senior Maggie Johnson picked up another postseason award when she was named Honorable Mention for the American Volleyball Coaches Association All-South Region team. Johnson also set numerous Belmont records, including a new career record for attacks while she finished second all-time at Belmont in career kills. Johnson's selection is the second in consecutive seasons for the Bruins after Kayla Albritton ended a two-year drought with her selection in 2010.
HOME TEAM SELECTION
ETSU women's soccer freshman defender Ellis Parsons (Cardiff, Wales) was recognized for her play and selected to join the Wales women’s national team in a qualifying group stage match for the European Championships in late November.
The Atlantic Sun Conference is an NCAA Division I league with 10 member institutions committed to Building Winners for Life. The A-Sun meets the challenge of maintaining the highest standards in academic and athletic achievement with a true balance between student and athlete. Headquartered in Macon, Ga., the A-Sun boasts six of the top eight media markets in the Southeast. The A-Sun includes a blend of the most prestigious and dynamic private and public institutions in the region: Belmont University, East Tennessee State University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Jacksonville University, Kennesaw State University, Lipscomb University, Mercer University, University of North Florida, University of South Carolina Upstate and Stetson University. Northern Kentucky University will be a member of the A-Sun beginning July 1, 2012.