ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Following an outstanding four years at Southern Vermont College, 2017 graduate Mel Orrell (Gloucester, Mass.) was named the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) Female Senior Student-athlete of the Year as announced by league commissioner Del Malloy on Tuesday.
Orrell graduated in mid-May with her bachelor's in Radiologic Sciences—doing so at the top of her class as she was SVC's 2017 salutatorian. She was a member of Southern Vermont's women's soccer team early in her time as a Mountaineer before becoming one of the league's best-ever women's lacrosse players as a three-year captain for the newly-established SVC program.
"Athletics have always directed me toward some of the best things in my life and working toward goals that I once thought would only be achieved by people other than me," said Orrell. "Without a long list of coaches and teammates, and the SVC athletic community, I wouldn't have been able to succeed!"
Each of the Conference institutions are able to nominate a male and a female for the annual senior accolade, and the winners are then determined by voting from the league's athletic directors. The honor is career-encompassing—considering a student's overall body of work as a member of the league and not just the accomplishments of a senior season. Orrell's selection is the first ever for a Mountaineer since the NECC began giving out the award in 2011.
"We are incredibly proud and could not be happier for Mel—not only for her to be awarded this honor, but also for her many accomplishments while a member of the SVC community," said Interim Director of Athletics Sharief Hashim. "She was an incredible asset to the College. Her work ethic, attitude, and resiliency—both on and off the field—made her one of our best athletes, and we expect her to be even more successful in her professional career."
Orrell's extensive list of awards garnered while being a Mountaineer includes her most recent honor of being selected to the 2016-17 College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District™ At-Large Team for NCAA Division III District 1. That made her just the second SVC student-athlete to collect a CoSIDA academic all-district honor and the fifth-ever player from the NECC to pick up the accolade.
The recent graduate was one of the first SVC captains on the women's lacrosse program which began NCAA varsity play in the spring of 2015. Orrell then became the first Mountaineer to surpass the 100 career goals mark—doing so in just her 26th collegiate lacrosse game (3.85 goals per game) during the 2016 campaign. At the end of that season, she was named the NECC Player of the Year while helping Southern Vermont secure its first home playoff game, win its first postseason match, and get all the way to the championship round.
Orrell followed her 2016 performance with a second-straight selection to the All-NECC First Team in 2017 as the Mountaineers turned in their first-ever season record above the .500 mark (8-6). She was chosen as the NECC Women's Lacrosse Player of the Week three times through her career and was tabbed the Eastern College Athletic Conference Division III New England Player of the Week once in 2016.
After three years with the new team, Orrell's name is peppered throughout the SVC record book for the lacrosse program. She graduated as the school leader in goals (156), assists (28), points (184), ground balls (235), draw controls (199), and caused turnovers (100). Her single season goals record of 68 sits 18 ahead of any other mark turned in by a Mountaineer so far.
Orrell played in 36 games for the women's soccer team in the early portion of her collegiate tenure—registering 13 goals and six assists in that time. She was voted to the All-NECC Second Team after her sophomore season in 2014, and she was named the NECC Women's Soccer Rookie of the Week once in 2013.
Between her sophomore season on the soccer squad and her three years spent playing lacrosse, Orrell earned her way to four NECC Academic All-Conference teams throughout her career. She worked her way to the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association Honor Roll in 2016 and is expected to do the same for 2017; Orrell was also the recipient of Southern Vermont's 2015 Mountaineer Female Scholar-athlete of the Year award.
In addition to being the Southern Vermont salutatorian, Orrell graduated Summa Cum Laude in May. On the day of commencement, she was honored as SVC's William A. Glasser Award winner for being the baccalaureate degree candidate who best exemplified the mission of the College. When she wasn't studying, working on her athletic skills, or spending time at her clinical rotation site for her major, Orrell was a campus ambassador for SVC's Department of Admissions and was a resident advisor on campus; she received the 2017 Campus Ambassador Award and also won the 2017 Resident Advisor Programmer of the Year Award.
"Mel is incredibly deserving of this honor," Hashim added. "She epitomized the term 'student-athlete' and everything that Division III stands for. She was a great role model for her peers, teammates, and youth throughout the Bennington community. Saying she will be 'missed' is a tremendous understatement."
– #LetsGoSVC –