Delaware Announces Team Awards; McCartney Named MVP, Burns Most Improved, Biciocchi Earns “Grit Award”, Wills Garners Sportsmanship Award
May 16, 2012
File Photos Courtesy of Mark Campbell
NEWARK, Del. – The University of Delaware women’s lacrosse squad named its 2012 team award winners this week based on a team vote and coach approved process.
Head coach Kateri Linville announced freshman midfielder Caitlin McCartney as the team’s Most Valuable Player at the annual Athletics Awards Banquet held at the Bob Carpenter Center Tuesday evening.
Sophomore Shannon Burns was selected as the team’s Most Improved Player while junior Angela Biciocchi was tabbed as the Janet Smith “Grit Award” winner. For the second straight year, senior captain Gracie Wills earned the team Sportsmanship Award.
This year’s Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Year and a first team All-CAA selection, McCartney (at right) turned in one of the best performances by a freshman in Delaware women’s lacrosse history this spring, ranking second in the league with 35 goals and eighth in the conference in points per game (2.60). As a starter in 15 games - missing two to injuries - McCartney’s 35-goal season marked the most for a Blue Hen freshman since Nicole Flego netted 36 goals during the 2007 season. The three-time CAA Rookie of the Week turned in six hat tricks this season while also leading the Hens with 37 groundballs and 39 draw controls.
“Cait played a vital role in all aspects of our game plan,” stated Linville. “She worked extremely hard to set the pace for the team in her rookie year. It is nice to see her teammates recognize and value her contributions to our program. I am proud of Cait for all of her accomplishments. I look forward to seeing her take her game to the next level in her sophomore campaign.”
Burns (at left) stepped up her game from a year ago to earn the team’s vote as the Most Improved Player. In her rookie season, Burns played in eight games. During those games, she won one draw control and took only two shots without recording a point.
Then in 2012, Burns improved her game across the board with a record-breaking sophomore season that earned her a spot on the All-CAA second team. As a starter in each of the Blue Hens’ 17 games, she finished out the regular season leading the CAA in conference games by averaging 4.14 draw controls and 1.71 caused turnovers per game.
Burns set a school and conference record for the most draw controls recorded in a single game, collecting nine against Hofstra. She surpassed the previous record of seven draw controls set by Julianna Jeffers on April 25, 2010 vs. Drexel. Burns closed out the season leading the Blue Hens with 47, just two shy of tying the all-time Delaware single season record of 49 set by Ashley Moderacki in 2001.
The Springfield, Md. native garnered Synapse Sports Honor Roll accolades on April 10 for her outstanding performance against Old Dominion and William & Mary, during which she totaled eight draw controls, six groundballs, four caused turnovers, and one goal on the week. Burns closed out her standout season also leading the Hens with 24 caused turnovers to go with 15 goals and 32 groundballs.
“Shannon is the type of player who keeps getting better,” said Linville. “She practices with the same level of intensity she plays with on game day and does extra work outside of practice. The extra work that she put in to her stick skills and drawing technique made a positive impact in games. It is nice to see her teammates recognize her efforts to improve and positively impact our program. I am proud of the gains she made this season. I look forward to seeing her take her game to the next level in her junior campaign.”
A defensive force for the Blue Hens this season, Biciocchi (bottom right) earned the team “Grit Award,” which was named after Janet Smith, who coached the women’s lacrosse team from 1980-1989 and collected three national championships. Smith is the winningest coach in program history, notching 118 wins against just 51 losses and one tie for a career winning percentage of 69.7.
One of Smith’s mantras to her squads was “grit is what sets some apart,” a phrase that encompasses Biciocchi’s competitiveness and determination this season.
Biciocchi, who was named first team All-CAA, capped a solid junior campaign as a top match-up defender for the Blue Hen squad. The Potomac, Md. native started in all 17 games this season and ranked second for the Hens by forcing 16 turnovers. She also won 24 draw controls and collected 30 ground balls, ranking third on the team.
On two occasions this year, Biciocchi collected a career-high four groundballs, which came against Lehigh and Towson.
“Angela was our top match-up defender this year,” said Linville. “She was also relied upon to build momentum in our transition game by causing turnovers and collecting groundballs and draws. The team counted on Ange to bring her best on game day, and that is why she is our 2012 Grit Award winner. I am proud of her accomplishments on the field. I look forward to seeing her step up as a defensive leader in her senior year.”
For the second year in a row, Wills (bottom left) collected the team Sportsmanship Award. As a senior captain for the Blue Hens, Wills served as a role model by displaying outstanding sportsmanship towards her teammates, coaches, opponents, and game officials.
Playing in 24 games while making only eight starts in her first three years as a Blue Hen, Wills played and started in all 17 games for Delaware in 2012. The Baltimore, Md. native collected 17 groundballs while forcing six turnovers and winning two draw controls to cap off her senior season.
Wills’ work as a captain went far beyond her ability to lead on game day. Off the field, Wills helped to create a forum for team members to support each other in their faith, establishing a weekly chapel for the team with the Delaware Christian Athlete organization. She also served as a leader in SAAC (Student Athlete Advisory Council) where she actively voiced the needs of the Delaware student-athletes.
In addition, Wills went above and beyond in her service efforts by helping the women’s lacrosse team to fundraise for multiple philanthropic efforts, including the Pigskin Pass, which supports the Special Olympics. This year, the senior raised over $2,000 dollars, the highest amount by an individual team number for the second year in a row. Wills also helped raise over $2,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association at the Blue Hens’ “Forget Me Not” Alzheimer’s Awareness game at the end of the 2012 season.
Next year, Wills will be working for England Lacrosse at St. Helen's and St. Katherine's, a girls day school based in Abingdon on the outskirts of Oxford, England, about an hour from London. Along with coaching, she will also assist with hall monitoring, tutoring and gym classes.
“I believe that Grace’s work as a senior captain will have a lasting impact in the Delaware team culture, said Linville. “She willingly stepped up to establish a positive environment as a role model and decision maker both on and off the field. I am excited to see her grow in her next leadership role as she begins her coaching career in England next fall.”