LA JOLLA, Calif. - Several members of the University of California San Diego women's soccer program have received important honors in recent days.
All seven Tritons who were previously selected to the 2016 Division II Conference Commissioners Association (D2CCA) All-West Region First Team and thus advanced to the D2CCA All-America ballot, earned some form of All-America recognition when those teams were announced on Wednesday, Nov. 30.
Junior striker Katie O'Laughlin (Carlsbad/Pacific Ridge School), the D2CCA West Region Player of the Year, and senior center back and co-captain Meghan Berry (Austin, Texas/San Diego Miramar College/Mt. Carmel HS), were chosen to the 13-player second team. Fifth-year senior goalkeeper Itzel Gonzalez and junior winger Jordyn McNutt (San Diego/University City HS) made the 13-player third team. Fifth-year senior winger and two-year co-captain Kiera Bocchino, junior right back Makenzie Brito, and sophomore forward Mary Reilly (Chula Vista/Hilltop HS), all garnered D2CCA All-America honorable mentions.
On Thursday morning came the official unveiling of National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-Americans, with O'Laughlin making that 12-player first team as one of three forwards, and Berry taking up one of three defender spots on the 12-player second team. O'Laughlin was one of just two California natives acknowledged, and she and Berry were the only representatives of the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA). In fact, there were no other CCAA players who received attention from the D2CCA, either.
UCSD had dominated with seven of the 13 slots on the D2CCA All-West Region First Team. By comparison, top-ranked Western Washington (24-0-1), which ended Grand Valley State's three-year reign as Division II champion in Saturday's national title game, 3-2 in Kansas City, Mo., had just three players recognized, with one then on the All-America first team, one on the second, and one honorable mention.
The seven Tritons included in the D2CCA All-America program is a single-season high for UC San Diego, and was the most of any squad, ahead of GVSU's six.
The Tritons finished another incredible campaign at 19-3 and as double champions of the CCAA and CCAA Tournament. They won 16 games in a row in between a pair of losses to eventual national champion Western, 3-2 in Bellingham, Wash., early in the season, and 2-1 in overtime in the West Region final in Golden, Colo.
O'Laughlin and Berry were the CCAA Offensive Player of the Year and CCAA Defensive Player of the Year, respectively. O'Laughlin led the West Region in both goals (16) and points (41), while Berry anchored the No. 10 defense in Division II.
Of UCSD student-athletes among the All-America awards, only one had any prior involvement, as McNutt picked up honorable mention from the D2CCA in 2015.
Six of the Tritons recognized appeared in all 22 matches. Only McNutt did not start every one, as the junior came off the bench on Senior Day on Oct. 16. Bocchino missed the West Region final due to an injury suffered in the second round.
Sports information directors from NCAA Division II schools and conferences selected the three D2CCA All-America teams, formerly sponsored by Daktronics. The process begins at the regional level with first-team all-region picks advancing to the national ballot. The NSCAA awards are voted on by member coaches.
This year's NSCAA Division II All-America teams feature a total of 70 men's and women's players, who will be formally acknowledged for their accomplishments at the NSCAA All-America Luncheon on Jan. 14 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, in conjunction with the 2017 NSCAA Convention.
Alongside its All-America honors, the NSCAA simultaneously announced all-region teams on Thursday. Berry and O'Laughlin were on the 13-player NSCAA All-West Region First Team, making them eligible for All-America distinction, and were joined by Reilly. Gonzalez and fourth-year senior midfielder Jamie Benedetto gained selection to the 13-player second team. It was a first regional award for Benedetto, who started all 22 games and provided a goal and two assists.
Gonzalez wound up 11th in Division II with a 0.498 individual GAA, and a league-best 15 shutouts to her credit. McNutt topped the CCAA in assists for a third straight season, collecting a career-best 12. She was No. 1 in the West and tied for ninth nationally, scoring six times as well.
Reilly tied for second regionally behind only her strike partner at a career-high 13 goals. Just like O'Laughlin, she added nine assists, and paced the league in shots by a hefty margin, 33 over O'Laughlin, for the second year running with an even 100. Bocchino was fourth on the team with 21 points from eight goals and five assists, all career highs. Brito was big on defense and offense, producing a goal and four assists.