Women's Soccer Sweeps All Four Landmark Conference Awards


The University of Scranton women's soccer team had another dominant regular season in the Landmark Conference. On Wednesday, the Royals reaped the benefits of that success.

Scranton swept all four major awards and landed six players on the all-Landmark Conference teams, according to a release from the conference office this morning. Senior forward Samantha Russo (Yorktown Heights, N.Y./Yorktown) was named Offensive Player of the Year, sophomore defender Erin Casey (Hatfield, Pa./Gwynedd-Mercy Academy) was named Defensive Player of the Year, freshman Christina Akalski (Long Beach, N.Y./Kellenberg Memorial) was named Rookie of the Year, and head coach Colleen Murphy was named Coach of the Year.

Joining Russo, Casey and Akalski on the first team is senior goalkeeper Kelsy McAnelly (West Chester, Pa./Villa Maria Academy). Junior midfielder Ellen Walker (Bethlehem, Pa./Liberty) and sophomore defender Jasmine Sconciafurno (Woodland Park, N.J./Passaic Valley) both earned second-team honors.

For Russo, it's the fourth time she's been named to the first team, and the second major award of her career. She was also named Rookie of the Year in 2010. She leads the Royals with 24 points and is tied for the team lead with 10 goals, half of which were game-winners. Her four assists are tied for third on the squad.

Russo enters this weekend's NCAA Tournament with 87 career points, tied for ninth-most in school history, 32 career goals, 10th-most in school history, and 23 assists, tied for sixth in Scranton history.

Casey overcame an early season injury to have a dominant season along the backline for Scranton. A second-team choice last season, she helped Scranton hold opponents to just 12 goals in the 15 matches she appeared in, while scoring three goals of her own, and each was a big one. She scored the game-winners in a 1-0 win at Juniata on Sept. 28, and a 2-0 win over Wilkes on Oct. 2. And her header with 91 seconds left in regulation forced overtime against Drew in the Landmark Conference championship this past Saturday. (The match ended in a draw, and Drew earned the title in a penalty kick shootout.)

Akalski made an instant impact in her first season with the Royals. She's third on the team with 17 points (seven goals, three assists) and is tied for second on the team with three match-winning goals. She scored goals in four straight matches early in the season, and had two goals and an assist against conference opponents.

McAnelly earned first-team honors for the second straight season and also earned second-team honors in 2011. She has a goals-against average of 0.81, best in the Landmark Conference, and posted seven shutouts. She has 30 career shutouts, second-most in school history.

Walker, who earned all-conference honors for the first time, continued to be a steady force in the midfield for the Royals. She has two goals and four assists in 17 matches, including a pair of assists in the Landmark Conference playoffs. She now has three goals and seven assists in her career.

Sconciafurno was also honored for the first time after helping Casey lead the defense that held opponents to one or zero goals in 15 of the team's 20 matches. Her play at center back also contributed to the Royals holding opponents to fewer than 10 shots on 13 occasions.

Murphy picked up Coach of the Year honors for the second time after her coaching staff was also honored in 2010. She has led the Royals to double-digit victories in five of her six seasons, and their 15 wins this season are one shy of her career high of 16, set in 2010.

To see the complete list of all-Landmark Conference women's soccer selections, visit www.landmarkconference.org.

The Royals (15-2-3) take an 18-match unbeaten streak into the NCAA Tournament when they face Endicott College (15-5-2) in a first-round match on Saturday, Nov. 16, at 1:30 p.m. in Middlebury, Vt.