SVC's Mascari, Wierzbicki honored by NECC Monday

BENNINGTON — The Southern Vermont College women's soccer team may have failed to get over the hump in the New England Collegiate Conference tournament last week as they fell to Elms 2-1 in the conference semifinals, but a group of SVC players were honored Monday for their contributions to the team in 2017.

The Mountaineers had their best season in program history, breaking the program record for wins in a season with 12.

That success was reflected in the conference honors announced by the NECC on Monday.

Senior Melissa Mascari concluded what is most likely the greatest career for a goalkeeper in program history this year and for her efforts she was named the Goalkeeper of the Year.

Mountaineers coach Michael Zauzig, who just finished his seventh year at the helm of SVC, could not have been more proud of his veteran goalkeeper.

"I'm proud that Melissa ends her career with this award,"Zauzig said in a SVC athletics press release Monday. "She has worked extremely hard and deserves credit for her impact on the 2017 season. There's no denying that Melissa has helped take our program to another level. She's clearly one of the best goalkeepers in New England and was excellent all year."

Mascari finished her Mountaineers career with whole slew of program records for goalkeeping. The Saratoga Springs, N.Y. native owns the program record for wins (37), shutouts (26), saves (552), goals against average (1.28) and winning percentage (.549). Her career shutouts mark eclipses the next closest player by 14 as SVC's goalkeeper from the mid-ninety's Denise Welch had 12 for her career.

The Mountaineers picked up another major award as freshman midfielder Jayne Wierzbicki was named the NECC Rookie of the Year. This marks the fourth consecutive year that a SVC player has brought home that award. Mascari won the award in 2014 after a 201-save season. Molly Madore won it in 2015, after putting up 15 goals, while Dani Biggers won the award last year.

Zauzig is excited for what the future will hold for Wierzbicki.

"Jayne had a tremendous year, and it was easy to see her impact on each match," Zauzig said. "She's fun to watch and has the ability to change a game in a moment. Equally impressive is her work ethic each day at training. I believe she can find another gear, and we can't wait to see that in 2018."

In terms of the other major conference awards, Karlie Rubin of Lesley was named NECC Player of the Year, after a scoring 13 goals this season, six of which were game-winners. Paul Vasconcelos of Lesley was named Coach of the Year, leading his team to a 16-2-3 mark heading into the Division III NCAA tournament.

Three Mountaineers players were named to the All-NECC First Team, with midfielder Taylor Mallett, Madore and Mascari all getting the honor.

For Madore, this is the third straight season she has been named to that team, which hasn't been accomplished before in program history. She already owns the program record for career goals and points as a junior.

"This award cements Molly's legacy at SVC and in the NECC," Zauzig said. "Due to certain circumstances, we had to find the best option for her to stay on the field. We knew she would be good as a center back, but her game went to another level. This proves that she is going to have an impact on matches no matter where she plays—forward, midfield, or center back."

Wierzbicki was named to the All-NECC Second Team, while Rileigh Griffiths and Naya Cerda were both named to the All-NECC Third Team. Sophomore Ashley Blom was named to the All-sportsmanship Team.

In the end, Zauzig could not be more proud of the team he trotted out there this year and how deserving they were of these honors.

"I'm proud of all of these players for their accomplishments this season," Zauzig said. "All of them had an important impact on our team and deserve credit for helping us be successful."

Adam Aucoin can be reached at and at @AAucoin_Banner on Twitter.


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