Tritons sweep top conference honors

    If there is any doubt about the talent of the UCSD women’s soccer team, one only needs to look at the accolades the players received this year. On Nov. 13, the California Collegiate Athletic Association head coaches recognized seven Tritons on the women’s soccer team, including six seniors, and their head coach Brian McManus with honors. McManus received 2003 CCAA Coach of the Year; senior forward Kristin Jones received Most Valuable Player of the Year and an All-CCAA First Team selection. Joining her on the All-CCAA First Team is freshman midfielder Kelly Cochran, who also garnered Freshman of the Year honors. Four seniors were named to the All-CCAA Second Team, including defender Molly Carlson, midfielder Kristen Conahan, midfielder Megan Mendoza and defender Christine Wensel. Rounding out the awards is senior defender Sarah Schopbach, who earned All-CCAA Honorable Mention for her efforts.

    McManus brought home his third CCAA Coach of the Year award in the last four years since UCSD’s move to Division II.

    “”As a coach, Brian is one of the best decision makers out there and we back him up 100 percent,”” Wensel said. “”He knows how to win and that’s why he always gets CCAA Coach of the Year.””

    Jones, often called “”Jonesy”” by McManus and her teammates, received honors for her consistent contributions to the team. She led UCSD with 11 assists, 27 points and tied with Cochran for most goals with eight. She also impressed the voters by leading the CCAA in overall assists, points per game and assists per game. When asked about her awards, Jones was modest and quickly pointed out that the whole team deserved recognition.

    “”[These awards] are an honor because there are a lot of good players out there, but our whole team really deserves these honors,”” Jones said. “”They never get enough recognition. For example, Molly and Christine finally got honored after four years of working so hard.””

    Jones has been essential to the success of the Tritons during her four-year tenure, as evidenced by this year’s awards and her 2002 honors as Second Team All-American and All-CCAA First Team and her 2001 All-CCAA Second Team selection. McManus was happy she received MVP and a First Team selection.

    “”Jonesy deserved them. Coaches always pick her [for honors] because she’s consistent. She’s a winner,”” McManus said.

    Jones’ fellow All-CCAA First Team honoree and Freshman of the Year Cochran scored eight goals, was second in game-winning goals with three and total points with 22. Cochran is the second-consecutive Triton to earn the Freshman of the Year distinction after sophomore defender Heather Szafraniec won the award in 2002. McManus has been impressed with Cochran’s efforts throughout the season and into the post-season.

    “”[Cochran] deserved [her awards]. She’s a good freshman,”” McManus said. “”She’s got goals, game-winning goals and assists. She’s the real deal.””

    Cochran, however, was also modest about taking credit for her contributions. She was flattered to be honored, but admitted she is not “”big on awards or attention, but it is nice to be recognized for hard work.””

    Mendoza, with four goals and five assists, was named All-CCAA Second Team, making it the third year in a row she has been recognized. She was a 2001 First Team All-American and also an All-CCAA First Team honoree in 2001 and 2002. As a defender, she has been key to successfully keeping opponents from scoring and has provided leadership for the past three years as co-captain.

    Coaches selected Conahan to the All-CCAA Second Team for finishing in the top three of UCSD in goals, points and a team-high four game-winning goals. Conahan is currently tied for first in goals with Cochran and Jones. A clutch player, Conahan was distinguished in 2002 as a Second Team All-American and an All-CCAA First Team selection.

    Receiving honors for the first time were Wensel and Carlson, named to the All-CCAA Second Team, and Schopbach, given an All-CCAA Honorable Mention. The players were honored for their solid defensive play and for starting all 18 games this season. The three defenders have also contributed offensively; each tallying a goal and Wensel helping with seven assists, second best on the team.

    “”It’s nice that [Carlson, Schopbach] and I were finally recognized; it makes me feel all warm inside,”” Wensel said. “”More people on our team deserved [honors].””

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