A strong 2019 regular season has resulted in the Georgia Gwinnett College women’s soccer team sweeping all of Association of Independent Institutions’ postseason specialty awards, on the eve of this weekend’s championship tournament.
Sophomore defender Joy Mertzig was honored as the A.I.I. Player of the Year, while senior Sophie Hoare was named the Goalkeeper of the Year, freshman midfielder Jenny Stadin was the Newcomer of the Year and Mike Giuliano was the Coach of the Year.
Earning first All-A.I.I. team honors were freshmen Kyara Armenta (forward) and Carina Vincelli (defender), along with Mertzig, Hoare and Stadin. Meanwhile, sophomores Maya Alibudbud (midfielder) and Lena Balck (defender) joined freshman Miranda Robinson (midfielder) in being second All-A.I.I. team honorees.
The top-seeded Grizzlies have been ranked in the NAIA Top 25 poll each week of the regular season. They were No. 14 in the final poll of the regular season.
Mertzig has scored 13 goals and tallied 28 points this season from her defensive position. She has had four game-winning goals and helped Georgia Gwinnett College’s defense to post eight shutouts. Mertzig was last year’s A.I.I. Newcomer of the Year.
Hoare has posted an 8-4-1 record and started 14 of the team’s 18 matches this fall. She also made 64 saves and recorded a 1.26 goals against average during the regular season. Hoare was also named to the A.I.I.’s Champions of Character team.
Stadin ranks second on GGC with 17 points, behind six goals and a team-high five assists. Five of her six goals have been game winners.
This is the third straight year that Giuliano has been honored by the A.I.I. This year, he has led the Grizzlies to a 12-5-1 record so far this fall.
Armena ranks third on the team with four goals scored, including the game-winning tally in GGC’s win against No. 5-ranked Lindsey Wilson College (Ky.) on Oct. 18. Vincelli helped the team’s defense record shutouts in matches during October, while she scored a goal against Middle Georgia State University on Sept. 6.
Alibudbud has started 17 matches and provided an assist this fall. Balck has contributed three points to the team’s offensive attack, while also transitioning to defender during the team’s strong October play. Robinson has made 16 appearances, including 10 starts, in her first collegiate season.
The postseason awards were announced during a pre-championship banquet Thursday, Nov. 14, on the Georgia Gwinnett College campus.
The A.I.I. tournament is taking place Friday and Saturday, Nov. 15-16, at GGC’s Grizzly Soccer Complex. The hosts will play No. 4 seed Washington Adventist University (Md.) in one Friday semifinal, starting at 11 a.m., followed by No. 2 seed Viterbo University (Wis.) facing No. 3 Bellevue University (Neb.) scheduled for 2 p.m.
The semifinal winners will square off in the championship match on Saturday, at a time yet to be announced. The A.I.I. champion will represent the conference in the 2019 NAIA national tournament.
2019 Association of Independent Institutions Women’s Soccer All-Conference Teams
Player of the Year: Joy Mertzig, Georgia Gwinnett College
Goalkeeper of the Year: Sophie Hoare, Georgia Gwinnett College
Newcomer of the Year: Jenny Stadin, Georgia Gwinnett College
Coach of the Year: Mike Giuliano, Georgia Gwinnett College
GK – Sophie Hoare, Georgia Gwinnett College
D – Joy Mertzig, Georgia Gwinnett College
D – Carina Vincelli, Georgia Gwinnett College
M – Jenny Stadin, Georgia Gwinnett College
F – Kyara Armenta, Georgia Gwinnett
D – Lena Balck, Georgia Gwinnett College
M – Maya Alibudbud, Georgia Gwinnett College
M – Miranda Robinson, Georgia Gwinnett College
Champion of Character
Sophie Hoare, Georgia Gwinnett College