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SFU's McKibben Makes NCAA Soccer History

Red Flash Senior First to Win Four Straight Conference Player of Year

ALTOONA -- A small piece of NCAA Women's Soccer history unfolded Thursday evening at Altoona's Lakemont Casino.  Saint Francis U senior Tesa McKibben (Cogan Station, Pa./Montoursville) the national leader in career points was named the Northeast Conference Player of the Year for an unprecedented fourth consecutive season.

Unprecedented not only in the NEC.  Unprecedented.  Period.

With the honor in hand, McKibben skipped to the top of the list of three-time players of the year, which includes the likes of Mia Hamm (ACC/UNC), Christie Welsh (Big 10/PSU), Mandy Clemens (WCC/SCU), Brittany Timko (Big 12/Nebraska) and Sarah Hagen (Horizon/Milwaukee).

McKibben will graduate from Saint Francis as the greatest offensive player in program history.  She leads the nation in career points with 171 and ranks near the top of the list in career goals with 67 and assists with 37.  She is a three-time NSCAA All-Region Selection, a three-time NEC Golden Boot winner, an 18-time NEC Player of the Week selection and earlier this season was named to the watch list for the MAC Hermann Trophy, which is the highest individual award in collegiate soccer.

To boot, she is an SFU and NEC Academic honor roll selection and was named the 2012 NEC women's soccer Scholar Athlete of the year.

But McKibben's award was just the tip of the iceberg for the Red Flash women's soccer team's plaudits on the eve of the 2013 NEC Women's Soccer Championship.

Senior Alecia McNiff (Marietta, Pa./Donegal ) was selected by league coaches as the NEC Defensive Player of the Year for a third time and 10th-year head coach, who enters the postseason with 99 career victories, picked up her fourth straight Coach of the Year trophy.

In addition, to the trio of major awards, a program-record seven Red Flash were selected to all-conference team.  McKibben, McNiff and fellow senior Barbara Maros de Carvalho (Sao Paulo, Brazil/Colegio Sagrado Coraco de Jesus) were selected to the first team and freshman Siobhan Bross (Danville, Pa./Danville Area) and junior Mackenzie Walter (Hollidaysburg, Pa./Hollidaysburg) earned spots on the second team.  In addition, Bross and Casey Gallaher (Sidman, Pa./Forest Hills) were named to the all-rookie team.

A captain on this year's squad, McNiff will go down as one of the finest defenders in league and program history.  Now a four-time all-conference selection, she has picked up two NSCAA All-Region selections and was named NSCAA College Scholar All-America in 2012.  During her time in Loretto, she has played a major part in 33 shutouts.

A four-year starter at forward for the Red Flash, Maros de Carvalho recently broke her own mark for points in a season with 25 after scoring eight over the past three games.  With 16 career goals and 32 assists, she ranks among the top 10 in SFU history in both of those categories. She was the 2010 NEC Rookie of the year, and is now a two-time All-NEC selection as well as an NSCAA All-Region performer.

Walter came into her own in the midfield during her second full season with the Red Flash.  Starting 17 of 18 games, the Hollidaysburg native has scored two goals and three assists to match her point total from the 2011 campaign.  She notched the game-winning goals in SFU's wins over Robert Morris and Mount St. Mary's.

Bross has quickly established herself as a staple in the middle for season Saint Francis, starting all 19 matches this season.  The rookie put up 25 shots over the course of the regular season, with 11 of those being put on mark.  She picked up two assists in SFU's 5-0 win over Bryant on Oct. 13.

Another local product, Gallaher logged nearly 1,300 minutes on the backline during the 2013 season.  The converted forward appeared in 16 games this season, starting 15 of those.  She picked up her only point of the season at Delaware but, more importantly, contributed to a defense that gave up double-digit shots on goal only once while posting four shutouts.

After going 6-10-2 in her first season at the helm of the Red Flash, head coach van Stralen has done little but win in her time at Saint Francis.  In the nine seasons since her rookie campaign, SFU has finished with a sub-.500 record just once.  Over the last four seasons, her teams have gone a combined 52-23-8 with a Northeast Conference Championship and three regular season championships among them.  In terms of wins, her current senior class represents the 32nd most successful group in the nation.

Courtesy Ben Mitchell, St. Francis Athletics

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times