Nov. 8, 2011
SAN BRUNO, Calif. - After sharing the 2011 West Coast Conference title, the University of San Diego claims two WCC individual accolades. Senior striker Stephanie Ochs is the West Coast Conference Player of the Year, and teammate Natalie Garcia is the Defensive Player of the Year. In addition these two players, senior midfielder Elissa Magracia earned first-team All-WCC accolades. Taking home second-team honors was senior goalkeeper Courtney Parsons, while Erika Wesley, Dani Russell and Meghan O'Rourke were named All-WCC honorable mention. Freshman forward Mariah Butera was named to the All-Freshman team, along with O'Rourke.
"I am very happy for all of our girls who received an award," stated USD head women's soccer coach Ada Greenwood. "The WCC is one of the top conference's in the nation, and to receive an award from this league it is truly an honor."
Ochs becomes the first San Diego player to be recognized as the WCC Player of the Year award. The Toreros reeled off seven straight conference wins to earn a share of the 2011 WCC championship for the first time in school history. Ochs tied for the conference lead with 13 points during WCC play, while leading the West Coast Conference with nine assists in eight conference matches. For the season, Ochs scored eight goals and registered 11 assists.
"No one has worked as hard from day one, when she stepped into the program, as Stephanie has," stated Greenwood. "In all four years she has continued to improve day in and day out at such a high level, which has given her the performances in conference this year and helping us win our first WCC championship. I am very happy for Stephanie, she truly deserves this honor."
Ochs' teammate Natalie Garcia was named the WCC Defensive Player of the Year by the league's nine head coaches. The senior becomes the third San Diego player to win the award, joining Brittany Cameron (2008) and Dawn Birdsall (1995) as Defensive Player of the Year honorees. Garcia and the Toreros defense allowed just four goals during conference play, while posting four WCC shutouts - including three straight to end the season. Overall, Garcia recorded five goals and had one assist for 11 points.
"Since Natalie has arrived in the program, she has been dealing with the best attacking players in the country, and consistently has shown that she is one of the top defenders in the nation," said Greenwood. "And now we feel because of Natalie's international experience, playing in the World Cup, that she can play in any environment in the world. We are very proud of Natalie for achieving this great honor."
Parsons was also a big reason the Toreros were able to record seven consecutive wins to close out the regular-season, as she recorded four shutouts in WCC play, allowing just four shots to get by her. She tallied 22 saves and posted a goals-against-average of 0.49 in WCC matches. On the season, Parsons was a brick wall in goal for USD, as she recorded six shutouts and a 0.81 goals-against-average, while posting 58 saves.
Wesley, along with Russell were on the defensive side of things for USD this season, and assisted the Toreros in posting three consecutive shutouts over the final three matches to assist USD in claiming their first-ever share of the WCC championship. These two ladies helped USD register four WCC shutouts and six shutouts all together, with Russell scoring a pair of goals in WCC play to help out offensively.
O'Rourke, who began the season in the backfield for USD, was moved up front and became a scoring threat for the Toreros. In WCC action, O'Rourke scored three goals and had one assist for eight points. She also had the game-winning goal in the 3-0 blanking of Gonzaga. Overall, O'Rourke recorded three goals and had three assists for nine points in her rookie campaign.
Butera also recorded a pair of goals, including the game-winner in the WCC championship match against No. 7 Santa Clara this past week for four points in conference action. She played a key role for USD's offense, as overall she recorded three goals, two game-winners, and a pair of assists for eight points.
These seven Toreros and the rest of the team will return to action on Friday when they head to Irvine on Friday evening for a 7 p.m. match against UC Irvine in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.