Daniels named Offensive Player of the Year; Panthers with six All-Conference selections
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – As they prepare for a third straight trip to the NCAA Tournament, six members of the Plymouth State University women's lacrosse team were among those to earn postseason recognition when the Little East Conference (LEC) announced its major awards winners and all-conference teams on Thursday.
Senior Veronyca Daniels (Concord, N.H.) highlighted the group, taking home Offensive Player of the Year accolades, as well as All-LEC First Team recognition. Daniels was joined on the first team by senior Kimberly Zuccaro (Townsend, Mass.) and sophomore Faye Brown (Londonderry, N.H.). Additionally, seniors Sam Fiore (Merrimac, Mass.) and Emily Sauls (North Andover, Mass.) and junior Sydney Dubois (Goffstown, N.H.) garnered All-LEC Second Team honors.
Daniels becomes the second straight Panther to capture Offensive Player of the Year honors, and the tenth in the 18 years the LEC has sponsored women's lacrosse. After scoring seven goals and adding an assist in the LEC Tournament, including four goals and five points in the championship game, the 5-7 attacker was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. A two-time Offensive Player of the Week honoree, Daniels finished near to top of the conference in points (sixth), goals (seventh) and assists (12th). She led the Panthers in all three categories (46 goals, 17 assists, 63 points), and eclipsed the 100-point threshold for her career earlier this year. Her 118 career points currently ranks 24th all-time. It is her first LEC postseason honor.
Zuccaro picked up First Team accolades for the third straight year. The 5-2 midfielder was a workhorse for the Panthers, making significant impacts all over the field with her aggressive play. A four-time Defensive Player of the Week honoree, Zuccaro finished third in the league with 37 caused turnovers and fourth with 55 ground balls. She also contributed on the offensive side of the ball, finishing the year with 28 goals, nine assists and 37 points, marks all among the top-20 of the conference. She was especially impressive in the Panthers' regular season win over Southern Maine, posting a career-high eight caused turnovers, nine ground balls and adding two goals and an assist. Zuccaro also ranks among the top scorers all time, as her 106 career points are among the top-30 in program history.
Brown, a 5-1 defender, earns First Team honors a year after taking home Second Team recognition. Although she didn't stuff the box score with flashy statistics, her play was a significant contributor to the conference's top defense. PSU allowed just 41 goals in league play, nearly 30 fewer than the next closest team, and the team's 5.86 goals against average easily topped the league. When including all games, the Panthers still led the league in goals against (136) and goals against average (8.50), despite playing the most challenging non-conference schedule. Plymouth State faced four nationally-ranked opponents this spring, including two top-five teams, while no other LEC team squared off against even one.
A 5-7 attacker, Fiore earns her first postseason honors. She finished tied for second on the team with 29 goals, while her 34 points ranked fourth. Her three player-up goals were the second most on the team and her offensive outburst at Keene State on Apr. 23 helped the Panthers lock up a share of the regular season title. She finished the night with a career-high six goals as PSU built a 14-4 lead early in the second half.
Dubois, a 5-8 midfielder, made contributions all over the field. A First Team all-conference selection a year ago, she collected Defensive Player of the Week honors twice, including the final weekly awards after her play in the LEC Tournament. She led the PSU offense with five goals and six draw controls in the semifinal win over Keene, and led the Panthers in caused turnovers and draw controls in the championship game. Dubois ranks seventh in the LEC in caused turnovers (27) and eighth in draw controls (56). Her 36 points are currently the third-most on the team, while her 29 goals tied her with Fiore for the second highest output among the Panthers' offense.
A 5-3 defender, Sauls earns her first postseason recognition after a solid senior campaign. Her 17 caused turnovers ranked fourth on the team while her play helped shutdown the opposition's top scorer. The top six scorers in the LEC accumulated a combined 350 goals on the season, yet were held to just 10 when facing the Panthers' defense. Sauls helped hold Southern Maine's leading scorer, who finished the year with 63 goals, to just one in the championship game. As a unit, the Plymouth State defense finished third in the league with 186 caused turnovers.
Under third-year head coach Sandy Bridgeman, PSU captured its record eighth LEC title with a 12-7 win over USM in the LEC Tournament finals on Sunday. The Panthers (11-5) head into the NCAA Division III Women's Lacrosse Championship riding a seven-game winning streak, and will face New England College in the first round on Saturday (May 11) at Tufts University. PSU is seeking its first NCAA Tournament win since the 2004 season.
A complete list of the major award winners and all-conference teams is available at the Little East website, www.littleeast.com.
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