Kaitlyn Kelly Named 2010 NEC Women's Lacrosse Defensive Player of the Year

TRUMBULL, Conn. - Quinnipiac University women's lacrosse junior defender Kaitlyn Kelly (North Massapequa, N.Y.) was named the 2010 Northeast Conference Defensive Player of the Year Thursday night at the league's annual banquet. Kelly becomes the third player in program history to earn the honor, joining goalkeeper Hannah Nelson in 2008 and Vanessa Miranda in 2006. Five Quinnipiac players were named to the All-NEC First and Second Teams, while two were honored with spots on the first-ever NEC All-Rookie Team.

Kelly earned the major postseason award after leading the Bobcats in ground balls (37), draw controls (39) and caused turnovers (24) in 15 games this season. Twice in 2010 she was named the NEC Defensive Player of the Week, helping the Bobcats limit opponents to just 7.67 goals per game.

"I am thrilled that Kaitlyn (Kelly) was voted the Defensive Player of Year by the league's head coaches," Head Coach Danie Caro said. "She has developed into one of the most dominating defenders I have ever coached. She is the leader of our defensive unit and an outstanding student-athlete."

Besides being named the league's top defender, Kelly was honored as a member of the All-NEC First Team. Joining Kelly were team captain Katie Latonick (Severna Park, Md.), junior Lauren Matuszczak (East Longmeadow, Mass.) and sophomore Devon Gibney (Hopkinton, Mass.). Latonick leads the nation in assists and assists per game in her final season with the Bobcats, posting 40 in 2010. Scoring a career-best 62 points this year, Latonick helped the Bobcats to an 8-1 mark in NEC play.

"Katie (Latonick) really blossomed into a complete player for us this year, and being named first-team is a tremendous honor since only three attackers each year earn that distinction," Caro said.

Matuszczak was tied for second on the team with 25 goals this season. Her four tallies against Columbia in the final home game of the season was a new career high, while her 40 points ranked third on the team behind Latonick and Gibney. She also ranked second on the team with 29 ground balls and third with 32 draw controls.

Gibney was second on the Bobcats and amongst the top 15 in the nation with 48 points this season. Her 38 goals were the top mark on the team, besting the second place player by 13. The second-year midfielder posted one of the top shooting percentages in the country this year, connecting on .603 of her shots (38-63).

"Devon (Gibney) and Lauren (Matuszczak) are great all-around players who contribute significantly at both ends of the field," Caro added. "They are both extremely hard workers and do all the little things that don't show up in the box scores. I am very happy to see them recognized."

Making her third straight appearance on the All-NEC Second Team was senior defender Brittany Hauser (East Northport, N.Y.). The Bobcats assistant captain ranked second on the team with 19 caused turnovers, while third with 27 ground balls. Her taken charge in the final minutes against Monmouth led to the Bobcats pushing the ball up field and scoring with just five seconds remaining.

"Brittany (Hauser) has been one of the most consistent defensive players in the NEC during the course of her career," Caro added. "Although she doesn't record flashy stats, anyone that knows the game recognizes how critical she has been to our team's success."

Making the inaugural All-NEC Rookie team were freshmen Chelsea Guerrera (Wantagh, N.Y.) and Sarah Allen (Glastonbury, Conn.). Both players emerged as offensive threats in their first seasons at Quinnipiac. Guerrera's 15 goals and eight assists gave her 23 points, best among Quinnipiac freshmen. Just one-point back was Allen with 22. Her 12 assists ranked third on the team behind just Latonick and Matuszczak.

"Sarah (Allen) and Chelsea (Guerrera) really stepped us for us over the course of the season," Caro said. "They've gotten their careers off to a great start and I'm excited that they will continue developing over the course of their Quinnipiac careers."

Sacred Heart won three of the five major conference awards as Carissa Hauser was named the 2010 NEC Player of the Year, while Chelsea Wagner was honored with the first ever NEC Goalkeeper of the Year Award. Head Coach Laura Cook claimed her second straight NEC Coach of the Year honor after guiding the Pioneers to a perfect 9-0 mark in NEC games and the program's first outright regular season title. Central Connecticut's Betsy Vendel was tabbed as the league's top rookie in 2010.

No. 2 Quinnipiac will take on No. 3 Monmouth in Friday's second semifinal contest from Sacred Heart's Campus Field in Fairfield, Conn. The Bobcats and Hawks square off no earlier than 2:30 p.m., following the conclusion of the Sacred Heart and Mount St, Mary's semifinal game that begins at noon.