ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Southern Vermont College freshman Alex Safford (Burnt Hills, N.Y.) has been named the 2018 New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) Women's Lacrosse Rookie of the Year as announced by the league on Monday.
Safford was also voted to the All-NECC First Team as an attack and was joined on the top squad by sophomore defender Juliena D'Alessio (Berlin, N.Y.). Additionally, senior Meagan McSweeney (Falmouth, Mass.) was selected to represent Southern Vermont on the Conference's All-Sportsmanship Team.
Safford is the first Mountaineer to garner the top rookie award in the team's short history, and she did so after collecting the league's Rookie of the Week honor three times during the year. She led SVC with 55 goals—the second-most for the program in a single season—and she was tied for second in the Conference with 35 scores against NECC opponents. The Southern Vermont freshman also had 43 ground balls, 19 caused turnovers, and eight draw controls. In seven of SVC's 16 games, Safford potted at least five goals.
"What a season for Alex," said Southern Vermont fourth-year head coach Thomas L. Otero. "She is a highly-skilled lacrosse athlete with great knowledge of the game. As the season progressed, she developed her collegiate skills quickly and really helped our team during our Conference schedule. As our opponents started to recognize her as a threat, they began to deny her the ball in many games; and yet, she still was the second-leading scorer in the NECC. Her ability to shoot from different angles with a variety of shots, and some of her pinpoint passes, were tremendous assets to our program. Alex will only improve as she progresses in her collegiate career as players around her develop as well."
D'Alessio was a consistent player in the Mountaineers' defensive end of the pitch and started in each of SVC's 16 games. She led Southern Vermont with 24 caused turnovers—a mark which is the third-best in single-season school history and was 15 better than what she posted in her freshman campaign. The SVC sophomore was also tied for fourth on the team with 39 ground balls, and she was able to notch eight draw controls from the backfield.
"Juliena was a pleasant surprise this season," Otero said. "A young player—in regards to experience—learned the game very rapidly and turned into a very powerful defender for us. Leading our team in caused turnovers proved that she was a danger to any offensive opponent. That, combined with her speed and her dynamic ability to get ground balls and push herself the entire game, bodes well for her and SVC's future."
McSweeney had one of her best seasons as a Mountaineer while becoming one of the team's first two four-year players. After never scoring more than two goals in a year, she tallied 12 in 2018. She also had 14 ground balls and a pair of caused turnovers in her 15 appearances—11 of which were starts.
"Meagan was a very solid player who developed each year with her skills," said Otero. "She was not a flashy player, but everyone on the team understood she could be counted on for a goal and to catch a ground ball at a strategic time in the game. She always played within the rules—as shown by her four fouls this season; that was a great indicator of her honor to the game."
Players are nominated by coaches for all-conference laurels and the league's major awards at the end of the regular season, and those coaches then vote for each accolade prior to the start of the postseason tournament.
2018 NECC Women's Lacrosse Major Awards & All-Conference Teams
NECC Player of the Year – Haley Richard, Elms (So., M, Monson, Mass.)
NECC Goalkeeper of the Year – Kristina Tran, Bay Path (So., G, Agawam, Mass.)
NECC Rookie of the Year – Alex Safford, Southern Vermont (Fr., A, Burnt Hills, N.Y.)
NECC Coach of the Year – Rosa Riccobono, Elms
First Team All-NECC
A - Vanessa Vurno, Elms (Jr., Salem, Conn.)
A - Venezia Delgadillo, Newbury (Fr., Sharon, Mass.)
A - Alex Safford, Southern Vermont (Fr., Burnt Hills, N.Y.)
A - Georgia Schindele, Wheelock (Jr., Sparkill, N.Y.)
M - Kaylee Herring, Bay Path (Sr., Worcester, Vt.)
M - Haley Richard, Elms (So., Monson, Mass.)
M - Jackie Soucia, Elms (Sr., Belchertown, Mass.)
M - Colleen Macdonald, Wheelock (Jr., Sandwich, Mass.)
D - Francesca Pinard, Mitchell (Jr., Arlington, Mass.)
D - Juliena D'Alessio, Southern Vermont (So., Berlin, N.Y.)
D - Katie Frade, Wheelock (Sr., Dartmouth, Mass.)
GK - Kristina Tran, Bay Path (So., Agawam, Mass.)
Second Team All-NECC
A - Samantha Rubacha, Bay Path (Fr., Feeding Hills, Mass.)
A - Alecia Keesee, Elms (So., Westfield, Mass.)
A - Sophia Kiasi, Newbury (Fr., Yorba Linda, Calif.)
A - Ashley Eppolito, Wheelock (Fr., Nashua, N.H.)
M - Kate McCormack, Mitchell (Jr., Narragansett, R.I.)
M - Hannah Gorham, Newbury (Fr., Lyman, Maine)
M - Alexandra Clark, Wheelock (Sr., Oak Bluffs, Mass.)
M - Alexah Mellis, Wheelock (Jr., East Longmeadow, Mass.)
D - Erienne Dowe, Elms (Fr., Somers, Conn.)
D - Madison Jung, Elms (Sr., Stafford Springs, Conn.)
D - Rachel Danis, Wheelock (Sr., Underhill, Vt.)
GK - Nikolle Storey, Becker (Jr., Cumberland, Maine)
All-NECC Sportsmanship Team
Jo Orrick, Bay Path (Jr., M, Belden, Miss.)
Gabrielle Tucker, Becker (So., D, Grafton, Mass.)
Genesis Johnson, Dean (Fr., M, Norwalk, Conn.)
Madison Crawford, Elms (Sr., A, Bennington, Vt.)
Hannah Corrigan, Mitchell (Fr., A/M, Fairfax, Vt.)
Sophia Kiasi, Newbury (Fr., A, Yorba Linda, Calif.)
Meagan McSweeney, Southern Vermont (Sr., A, Falmouth, Mass.)
Keeghan Hughes, Wheelock (Jr., M, Ipswich, Mass.)
– #LetsGoSVC –