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JU Women: Della Rocca & Brager Highlight ASUN List as Players of the Year!

Written by Lee Roggenburg on . Posted in .
via press release – photo via JU web site   LAKE POINT, Ga. – In a vote of the league’s 11 women’s lacrosse head coaches, Jacksonville University’s Danielle Della Rocca was named Co-Player of the Year while Erika Brager nabbed Defensive Player of the Year, the ASUN Conference announced Wednesday. The Dolphins also picked up seven all-conference honors with Kristin Ridenour and Ashtyn Hiron joining Della Rocca and Brager on the first team, Courtney Valdez earning second team distinction and Parker Day and Sydney Matthews all-freshman. “We are happy for all of the award winners, as the talent in the ASUN was better than ever before,” said head coach Mindy McCord. “We are fortunate to have two players of the year in Della Rocca and Brager. Both of those seniors are very deserving of the honors, but there were several considerations from other teams and our own that could have been in their shoes. We are excited to get to see many of these fine award winners this weekend at the tournament!” Della Rocca, the ASUN’s all-time leader in goals and points, notched her third consecutive first team award with a stellar 2017 season. She currently ties Central Michigan’s Jocelyne Lemay for most goals scored (49) and ranks seventh in the league in points (62). Nearly 78 percent of Della Rocca’s shots have found the back of the net. Against Florida, a team ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation this year, she scored five times on a 5-for-6 effort from the field. She is the Dolphins’ all-time leader in points (243), and is within single-digits of becoming the all-time leader in goals and assists. “D has drawn the very best that our opponents can dish out on her over the past two seasons, and has taken it all in stride,” continued McCord. “Her production has been very consistent, and her game has come a long way overall, from being a pure scorer her sophomore year to being a complete attacker who rides and competes every second of the game. “Danielle was a late recruit for us, and we are so fortunate to have snatched her up as a late junior in high school. She has made believers of us all and we hope she has an MVP type of tournament that she can be happy with. She is all about the team and helping the team compete every game. Her game against Florida may be the single best performance by a player in ASUN history. Congrats to her!” Brager has started every game for the NCAA’s seventh-best scoring defense and fourth-ranked scoring offense. She’s a top-10 fixture in program history in caused turnovers (79), and ties for second in the conference in the category with 29. In her best season yet, statistically, Brager is recording a career year in caused turnovers and ground balls (50), while limiting her own turnovers to a season-low six. “I can’t say enough about Erika. After being a high school midfielder, we converted her to defense her freshman year and she was solid. She continued to improve her sophomore season, and was very good her junior year. This year, she is much better than her junior year and she is like having a great clearing midfielder on defense. She handles the ball so well and gets the nitty gritty ground balls so well. “She has become a great checker who makes plays without fouling often. She can play anywhere on the field. Her team leadership is strong but even and controlled. She is truly a master of the game this year and has total control of her performance.” Ridenour and Hiron add back-to-back first team selections after stellar play on offense and defense. The former, who also serves as a two-year captain, has anchored the Dolphins’ defense with 17 caused turnovers, while Hiron, last year’s Defensive Player of the Year, is eighth in the ASUN with 24 caused turnovers per game, fifth in draw controls (64), and tied for 12th in free-position goals (8). In her first season at JU, Valdez paces the Dolphins with 64 points on 45 goals and a team-high 19 assists. She ranks fifth in the conference in both categories. Day and Matthews will soon be entering the postseason for the first time in their collegiate careers, and are well prepared after stellar freshmen campaigns. Matthews served as the Dolphins’ regular goalkeeper with 16 appearances and 13 starts. Her league-leading 7.69 goals against average, which also ranks fourth nationally, helped guide JU to 11 wins. Day has been a strong scorer off the bench, with 13 goals and five assists, especially against top competition this season. The Dolphins open postseason play Friday at 4 p.m. versus the winner of Furman/Stetson. The ASUN Tournament will be hosted at D.B. Milne Field.