Defending Champ Monmouth Sweeps NEC Postseason Awards

WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J.- Monmouth swept the 2013 Northeast Conference major awards, winning offensive, defensive, goaltender, rookie and coach of the year awards, announced at tonight's post-season banquet.

Senior Gianna D'Urso (Fairfield, N.J./West Essex Regional) was named Defensive Player of the Year, junior Kaleigh Gibbons (Candia, N.H./Central) earned Offensive Player of the Year, sophomore Katie Donohoe (Peterborough, Ontario/Holy Cross Secondary) was named Goaltender of the Year, freshman Marial Pierce (Middleburg, Va./St. John's Catholic) was Rookie of the Year and fourth-year head coach Denise Wescott earned Coach of the Year honors for the defending champion Hawks.

D'Urso, Gibbons and Donohoe were all First Team All-Northeast Conference honorees while sophomore midfielder Allison Stathius (Delran, N.J./Delran) was a Second Team All-NEC selection and Pierce headed up the All-Rookie Team. It is the third time in the 16-year history of the NEC Lacrosse league that a team has swept all the major awards.

D'Urso, a senior captain defender, anchored a defense that allowed a stingy 8.7 goals per game, which is 21st in the NCAA. The two-time First Team All-NEC selection led MU in caused turnovers with 23 and was third on the team with 36 ground balls. The Fairfield, N.J. native ranks fifth all-time at Monmouth with 91 caused turnovers and 11th in games played, appearing in 71 contests.

Gibbons, who earns First Team All-NEC honors for the second straight season, becomes Monmouth's first Offensive Player of the Year since Katie Degen won the award in 2007. Gibbons dominated the stat sheet from her midfield position, finishing first on the team in points with 51 and assists with 24, which is the 10th most in school history. Gibbons tallied a point in every contest she played in this season and had 12 multiple point matches in 2013. She ranked second on the team in goals, ground balls and caused turnovers with 26, 37 and 20, respectively. Gibbons was part of an offensive attack that outscored conference foes 110-52, including an impressive 68-21 margin in the second half of games.

Donohoe, last year's NEC Tournament MVP, led the NEC in overall goals-against- average and was especially stingy against league opponents, boasting a 5.9 goals-against-average and a .450 save percentage. The sophomore was just as active outside the crease, tallying a team-high 49 ground balls while causing 14 turnovers. Donohoe, a member of Team Canada, ranks 26th in the nation in saves and was a member of last year's all-rookie team.

Despite missing three of the final four games of the season with an injury, Pierce left her mark on the Hawks with 25 goals and was named conference rookie of the week twice during the season. The Middleburg, Va. native finished tied for the team lead in game-winning goals with three while finishing third on the team in goals and draw controls and fourth in points. During a four-game stretch in March, Pierce scored 14 goals. She becomes the first Hawk to win Rookie of the Year since Rachel Feirstein won it in 2008.

Coach Denise Wescott guided the team to their first outright NEC regular-season title since her arrival in West Long Branch four years ago. Monmouth posted a perfect 9-0 record in conference games, marking the first time an NEC team went undefeated in conference play since 2010, and the first time the Hawks did it since 2006. Her team ranked among the league's top three in goals, assists, ground balls, goals-against-average and save percentage. It is her second NEC Coach of the Year honor, earning the honor as the head coach of Mount St. Mary's in 2007.

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