Best named Striker of the Year
VESTAL, N.Y. -- Chiara Best (Rose Valley, Pa.), a senior tri-captain on the University of New Hampshire women's soccer team, was named Striker of the Year by America East at Thursday evening's America East annual awards banquet that was held at Binghamton University. Best and five other Wildcats also earned all-conference honors.
Best was joined on the America East All-Conference First Team by sophomore midfielder Hillary Mefferd (Portland, Ore.). Junior back Debbie Newman (Union, Conn.) and classmate Julie Wernig (Steamboat Springs, Colo.), a midfielder, were selected to the Second Team while forward Adriana Gonzalez-Medina (Bainbridge Island, Wash.) was an All-Rookie Team honoree.
Junior forward Jackie Wishoski (Malden, Mass.) was selected to the First Team as an honorary choice. She played five games this season and recorded six points, all on goals, before being seriously injured in an automobile accident in early September.
In addition, senior back Shannon Oltman (Edmonds, Wash.) received Honorable Mention.
Best, a First Team selection in 2003 and a Second Team pick in 2001 and 2002, became UNH's all-time leading scorer in Tuesday afternoon's 4-0 victory against the University of Hartford in the first round of the America East Championships. Best supplanted Diane McLoughlin (87 points) atop the leaderboard as her three-point effort vs. the Hawks increased her career total to 88.
Best leads the 2004 Wildcats in goals (14), game-winning goals (five) and points (31) and she is tied for the lead in assists (three). Both the goal and point totals rank No. 2 on UNH's list of single-season superlatives. Her end-of-the-regular-season numbers ranked first in America East in goals and third in points.
Mefferd has played in 20 matches with 19 starts this season. She has recorded four points, all on assists. Mefferd had two assists to help UNH defeat Binghamton on Oct. 1 and tied the America East Championships single-game record with a pair of assists in the first-round game vs. Hartford.
Newman, a tri-captain who was also a Second Team selection in 2002 and 2003, has started all 19 matches this season and is the leader of the defensive unit. Under her direction, the Wildcats allowed just one goal in each of the last five games of the regular season and shut out Hartford in the opener of this year's conference tourney.
Wernig stepped into a starting role at midfield for the 'Cats this year with 18 starts in 20 matches. She is tied for third on the team in both goals (three) and points (seven). Wernig scored two of her goals in nine America East matches with one tally vs. both Hartford and Albany.
Gonzalez-Medina has been an integral part of UNH's forward rotation with nine starts in 18 matches. She ranks second on the team in goals (four) and points (11) and she recorded five points with two goals and one assist in nine conference games. Her season highlights included game-winning goals in consecutive games against Providence College and the University of Rhode Island.
Oltman is another leader of the defensive unit and she is also a two-pronged weapon on offense with dangerous services into the penalty box from midfield or as a target for headers on corner kicks. She proved the former with two assists during the regular season and the latter with two goals on headers in the first-round match against Hartford. She has started all 20 matches and has six points on two goals and two assists.
UNH is the No. 3 seed in the America East Championships and will play second-seeded University of Maine in a Nov. 5 semifinal (1:30 p.m.) at Binghamton University.