November 18, 2008

Cillizza, staff, and five players honored by Landmark Conference

Cillizza, staff, and five players honored by Landmark Conference

November 18, 2008

WASHINGTON-- For the third-straight year, Gia Cillizza and her assistants were honored as the coaching staff of the year by their peers. In addition to the coaching award, five Cardinals were named to the all-conference team including four first-team nods, and senior Ro Dixon garnered one of the Landmark Conference's major individual awards.

The honors come on the heels of the team's third consecutive regular-season conference championship. Finishing an unblemished 6-0 in conference play, the team lost the tournament championship final 2-1 in double overtime to Juniata College. The Cardinals then received a bid to the ECAC Mid Atlantic tournament as the No. 4 seed where they defeated #5 Cabrini, 6-2, in the first round and #1 William Paterson, 1-0, in overtime of the semifinals before eventually falling 3-2 in another overtime match up this time to #3 Kean University in the ECAC championship.

Cillizza and her staff led the team to a 14-8 overall record in 2008 - racking up the second highest number of wins in a season since the program began in 1969. It is also the fifth consecutive year that Cillizza and the team have notched double-digit wins.

The team finishes its season ranking #29 nationally and #11 in the South Atlantic region according to fieldhockeycorner.com, and this year's schedule included five top 20 programs. Cillizza was also chosen as coach of the year in 2007 by the Landmark and 2006 by the Capital Athletic Conference.

Senior Ro Dixon (Ardmore, Pa./Country Day Sacred Heart) led the honors -- being named the Landmark Conference Defensive Player of the Year in addition to her first team accolade.  As the defensive mainstay for a team ranked #11 nationally (NCAA) and first in the Landmark in goals against average, Dixon has notched eight defensive saves this season. A balanced player who is key on offensive corners, she also leads the team in goals and ranks tied for first in assists. This year, the senior co-captain was also named to the National Field Hockey Coaches Senior All-Star game in addition to being named Landmark player of the week twice - once on offense and on defense. Dixon follows in the footsteps of sophomore midfielder Andrea Baick (Gaithersburg, Md./Quince Orchard), who was named Landmark co-defensive player of the year last season.

Also claiming first team honors were Baick, junior goalie Marian Cassilly (Gambrills, Md./ Archbishop Spalding), and freshman forward Tracey Scanlon (North Wales, Pa./ Gwynedd Mercy).

Cassilly, who made the first team for the second straight year, has racked up eight shutouts, and has a goals-against-average of just 1.04 - good for the top spot in the conference.  Her stellar work in front of the cage has helped the Cardinals throughout the season. Cassilly's athleticism and aggression put her among the national leaders in goals against average (#12 in the country) and save percentage (#17); it also won her Landmark Conference defensive player of the week honors twice.

Baick notched one goal and one assist this season but the goal was a big one as she helped the team defeat Susquehanna and secure the regular season Landmark title. It was her midfield play, however, that landed her on the first team as a sophomore. After being named Landmark co-defensive player of the year in 2007, Baick made the switch to the center midfield spot where her quick decisions, strong passing, and field vision, in addition to her precise stick skills, lifted the team and made her a conference standout.

Scanlon came to campus as a freshman by grade, but on the field held the composure of a veteran player.  Playing in only 15 of 20 contests due to rehab surrounding a knee injury, Scanlon helped lead a young group of forwards with her speed and willingness to take on defenders. Scanlon has tallied five goals and an assist. She was tied for first in game-winning goals and tied for second for overall goals in the conference.

Second team all-Landmark honors went to junior midfielder Carley Walko (Freehold, N.J./ Red Bank Catholic) who netted three goals on the season. Walko's biggest contribution, however, came in her ability to distribute the ball to teammates in scoring position - as evidenced by her eight assists, which tied her for first on the team.

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