Jillian Strassner Named Northeast Conference Rookie Of The YearNEW BRITAIN, Conn. - Freshman midfielder Jillian Strassner (Avon, Conn.) of the Quinnipiac University women's soccer team was named the Northeast Conference Rookie of the Year, as announced at the NEC Banquet this evening. Strassner also earned a spot on the All-Conference First Team alongside sophomore forward Furtuna Velaj (Stamford, Conn.), who earned a spot on that squad for the second consecutive season. Senior defender Hanne Walleck (South Glastonbury, Conn.) was named to the All-Conference Second Team for her efforts on the Bobcats back line.
Strassner stepped up for Quinnipiac in her rookie season, becoming the secondary scoring threat behind Velaj. The freshman wasted no time getting on the board, scoring her first collegiate goal in the second game of the season against Stony Brook where Quinnipiac came away with a 2-1 victory. Strassner went on to finish the season ranked second on the team in goals (4), points (11), and assists (3).
The highlight of the midfielder's first season as a Bobcat came on Oct. 18 when the team hosted Wagner at the Quinnipiac Soccer Field. Strassner recorded a season-high of four points when she scored a goal and added two assists in the Bobcats' 4-2 victory against the Seahawks. Her performance earned her NEC Rookie of the Week honors on Oct. 20. Strassner's Rookie of the Year accolade is just the third time that Quinnipiac has received this award and is the first time since Kirsten van de Ven earned the honor in 2004.
"This is a tremendous honor for Jillian," said head coach Dave Clarke. "When you look at some of the players, not only in the NEC but at Quinnipiac, who have won the Rookie of the Year award, she is in very good company. She's had a great season not just demonstrated in points but in overall play, and I think she deserved the honor."
Velaj posted league-leading numbers this year for her second straight season with the Bobcats, earning a spot on the All-Conference First Team. Velaj led the team in points (30) and goals (11) for the second consecutive year, as well as recording the most assists on the team dishing out eight helpers. The sophomore went neck-and-neck with the NEC Player of the Year, Leah Blayney, in all offensive categories and topped the league in points per game (2.00), goals (11) and goals per game (0.73). Her offensive contributions earned her NEC Player of the Week honors twice this season.
"Velaj's statistics, goals and her overall performance yields results, but its also recognition from her overall play and the importance of the team," said Clarke. "Her acknowledgment was definitely well earned."
Walleck rightfully earned her spot on the All-Conference Second Team as she truly stepped up for the Bobcats in her senior season. After making ten starts in 44 games in her first three years at Quinnipiac, Walleck has started and played in every single minute of all 16 games this season, becoming the only player on the roster to do so. The senior's strong presence on the defensive line helped the Bobcats rank fourth in the conference in goals allowed with 24. This honor marks the first time that Walleck has been recognized by the conference.
"Hanne was more surprising in the sense that the other two received recognition because they score goals, but Hanne's overall performance stood out this season," said Clarke. "It's an honor for the whole back four, but to put in the senior year that Hanne's had and for her to earn this recognition is a validation for her whole career at Quinnipiac."
Quinnipiac returns to action Friday, Nov. 6, in the Northeast Conference Tournament hosted by Central Connecticut State in New Britain, Conn. Since the Bobcats clinched third place in the conference, they will play second-seeded Monmouth University at 1:30 p.m. at the Central Connecticut Soccer Field.