Ave Maria: Eldridge Named National Player of the Week
via Ave Maria press release/website
AVE MARIA, Fla.- Ave Maria University junior Orianna Eldridge was honored Tuesday as the NAIA National Defensive Player of the Week, as announced by the NAIA’s national office in Kansas City. Eldridge becomes the first player in program history to be recognized by the national office, doing so after a sparkling performance in Ave Maria’s upset over No. 10 Siena Heights.
Players of the week are evaluated on their performance during the week prior to the announcement. Each player is selected out of a pool of conference, group and Continental Athletic Conference (Independents) award winners.
Eldridge played a major role in Ave Maria’s stunning upset of Siena Heights, which came with the Gyrenes playing the entire match down a player. The Maryland native led an AMU defensive effort that allowed just seven goals to the Saints, and forced 22 turnovers throughout the match. Eldridge caused four of those turnovers herself, and scooped up five ground balls, both of which were team highs for the match.
Her contributions were not limited to the defensive end of the field, as the junior came up big on offense, as well. Eldridge recorded a hat trick, scoring three of Ave Maria’s eight goals. She scored in the second quarter to give the Gyrenes a 3-2 lead, then score back-to-back goals in the span of 129 seconds to turn a tied 5-5 game into a 7-5 lead for the Gyrenes. She also played a key role in keeping the ball in Ave Maria hands, grabbing four draw controls.
Through Ave Maria’s first four games of the 2023 season, Eldridge has almost unquestionably been the most productive player on the AMU roster. The junior has scored half of AMU goals on the offensive end, and leads the team in both ground balls and caused turnovers. Eldridge has scored multiple goals in all three Ave Maria games, and has at least one ground ball and caused turnover in each contest, as well.
After two games in Kentucky, the Gyrenes return to the Sunshine State for their next matchup. Ave Maria will battle Gordon College from Massachusetts, an NCAA Division III member. The Gyrenes and the Fighting Scots are scheduled to meet Sunday in Clearwater, with opening draw of the first-ever matchup between the schools set for 2:30 p.m. Ave Maria’s next home game comes four days later, when AMU hosts No. 1 Benedictine at Gyrene Field on the evening of March 9.