WINCHESTER, Mass. – Simmons College Head Women's Soccer Coach Erica Schuling was named the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, while Issy Verrilli (Naugatuck, Conn.) was selected the GNAC Defensive Player of the Year and was chosen for the GNAC First Team along with Greer Gilbert (Falmouth, Mass.) and Ali Berkman (Natick, Mass.). Alexis Eusebio (Dartmouth, Mass.) was tabbed for the Second Team, while Paige Wilcox (East Sandwich, Mass.) was a selection for the All-Sportsmanship Team, it was announced today by the league.
You can check out all of the GNAC All-Conference selections here.
Schuling led the Sharks to an 8-3-0 record in conference play to tie for the second-best record in the league as part of a 9-7-3 overall record and earned the number three seed in the GNAC Tournament for their fourth straight appearance. Simmons' stifling defense was a hallmark of Schuling's success. The Sharks owned an impressive 1.06 goals against average to rank second among GNAC clubs, while posting 10 shutouts to top the conference. Simmons allowed more than one goal just three times in the team's final 12 contests of the year, while posting an 8-3-1 mark since September 20 to close out the campaign. The Sharks also placed third in the league with 1.9 goals per match. Schuling was named the GNAC Coach of the Year in 2009 as well when she led Simmons to the conference title and an NCAA Tournament berth. The Sharks' mentor is the program's all-time win leader and has directed Simmons to seven GNAC playoff appearances in her nine seasons, including three GNAC championship matches. The Sharks four All-Conference honorees add to a total of 31, including 17 first teamers during Schuling's tenure at Simmons.
Verrilli earns Defensive Player of the Year honors, while being named to the First Team for the third straight season. She becomes the first Simmons player to earn the top defensive honor since it was first awarded in 2008. The junior anchored the Sharks' vaunted defense that allowed just 21 goals in 19 matches. Despite playing injured during the season, the back still managed to start 15 of 17 contests and also chipped in with an assist. The Naugatuck High School product was a shutdown defender for a Simmons' defense that allowed just 11.4 shots per game and strung together a stretch of 338:34 minutes where it didn't allow a goal from October 1-13. The Marketing major has started 50 of 53 career matches, while notching an assist.
The Sharks' offense was led by Gilbert, who was named to the First Team as a forward after earning Second Team honors a year ago. The junior led Simmons in points (20), goals (seven) and assists (six), while ranking seventh among GNAC leaders with six goals and 15 points in league action. A graduate of Falmouth High School, Gilbert tallied three game-winning scores, including the deciding marker in back-to-back 1-0 victories over Johnson & Wales University and Albertus Magnus College on October 4 and 8, respectively. One of the fastest players in the league, Gilbert notched at least one point in 10 matches, including three outings with at least three points. The Physical Therapy major has seen action in 60 matches during her three-year tenure, while making 54 starts. She's also racked up 19 goals and 11 assists for 49 career points.
Berkman earns First Team status after landing on the Third Team last year. The midfielder controlled the midfield with her physical play and routinely used her uncanny instincts to beat opponents on 50/50 balls. The junior's ability to control her body made her a scoring threat on every corner kick with a knack to get her head on serves in front of the net. Berkman tallied 13 points on the year on six goals and an assist with all of her points coming against conference foes. The Natick High School product tied for seventh among league leaders in goals and stood 11th in points. The Physical Therapy major helped carry the Sharks during a five-match point streak, where she tallied nine points and provided the game-winning score on four occasions to lead the squad to a 4-1-0 mark from October 11-25. In 46 career matches, she has started 34 times, while piling up 31 points on 14 goals and three assists. She has made her goals count with half of them (seven) going as game-winners.
The Second Team midfield includes Eusebio, who was one of three players to start all 19 contests for Simmons. The junior was one of the squad's top playmakers, ranking second for the Sharks with five assists to go with a pair of goals for a career-high nine points on the year. The Dartmouth High School graduate placed 15th among GNAC leaders with total assists in league matches. Eusebio began the year with points in each of the team's first two matches and contributed on two more scores in two outings. A Physical Therapy major, she has started 29 of the 38 matches she's appeared in for Simmons, while registering 15 points on four goals and seven assists. Prior to transferring to Simmons last season, Eusebio played in 10 matches for Bridgewater State University.
Wilcox started all 19 matches in the backfield for the Sharks and was the team's lone senior. The Sandwich High School product tallied an assist and was part of a tough, disciplined team unit that was called for just two yellow cards all season. The defender finished her career after playing 52 contests with 38 starting nods.