Entire Starting 11 Recognized by CCAA for Perfect League Slate; Berry, O'Laughlin, McManus Earn Major Awards
TURLOCK, Calif. - The California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) champion University of California San Diego women's soccer program had all 11 of its starters and head coach Brian McManus earn postseason recognition for 2016, as announced during a banquet Thursday night on the Stanislaus State campus ahead of Friday's semifinal round of the CCAA Tournament.
Three of the five major awards went to UC San Diego, with junior Katie O'Laughlin (Carlsbad/Pacific Ridge School) and senior co-captain Meghan Berry (Austin, Texas/San Diego Miramar College/Mt. Carmel HS) the CCAA Offensive Player of the Year and CCAA Defensive Player of the Year, respectively. McManus is the CCAA Coach of the Year for the sixth time, more than any other.
The Tritons went a perfect 12-0 on their way to a record ninth league championship, and first since 2012. They are 16-2 overall and winners of 13 straight. UCSD outscored CCAA opposition by the final account of 35-2, not trailing until the regular-season finale at Cal Poly Pomona, before rallying in the second half for a 2-1 triumph to complete the program's first undefeated run through the conference since joining the league in 2000. It was the CCAA's first perfect slate since 1998.
An incredible, program-record seven of the 11 All-CCAA First Team selections were Tritons, led by Berry and O'Laughlin. Joining them were Kiera Bocchino, Makenzie Brito, Itzel Gonzalez, Jordyn McNutt (San Diego/University City HS) and Mary Reilly (Chula Vista/Hilltop HS). UCSD's previous high was five in 2011. Jamie Benedetto and Natalie Saddic (San Diego/Torrey Pines HS) made the All-CCAA Second Team, with Aimee Ellis and Elisa Martinez (El Cajon/Francis Parker School) picking up All-CCAA honorable mentions. It was not immediately known for sure, if all 11 starters for one CCAA team have ever been so chosen, but it isn't likely.
O'Laughlin is the obvious Offensive Player of the Year as she leads not just the league, but the entire West Region, with her career-high 15 goals. She has added eight assists for 38 total points, and is just two goals shy of matching Triton great Erika Alfredson's single-season record for the program's Division II era, from 2001. O'Laughlin is UCSD's first such honoree since Natasha Belak-Berger in 2008.
Berry has started each of the past 40 games as the Tritons' center back in their traditional 3-5-2 alignment, after moving there from the center of midfield in the 2015 preseason. She has achieved much success in that role, and in her final go-around, has anchored the nation's No. 9 defense with just seven goals surrendered.
McManus is in his milestone 30th season in charge as one of the winningest coaches in the history of collegiate women's soccer at any level. He picked up the distinction previously in 2000, 2001, 2003, 2006 and 2011.
Reilly, the 2015 CCAA Freshman of the Year, has joined her strike partner in double-figure goals again, with 10, to go along with a league-best nine assists for 29 points. O'Laughlin and Reilly are 1-2 in the CCAA in goals, a reversal from a year ago.
McNutt shares the CCAA assists lead with Reilly as a junior, at nine apiece, and has also scored four herself. Fellow winger Bocchino, like Berry a senior co-captain, has compiled a career-high 18 points from seven goals and four assists. Fifth-year senior Gonzalez paces the league with 13 individual clean sheets in her first season as the Tritons' No. 1 goalkeeper. Her 0.388 goals-against average ranks ninth nationally. Brito has started 25 straight contests at right back going back to late in the 2015 campaign, and provided a goal and three assists as a junior.
Berry, McNutt, O'Laughlin and Reilly were first-teamers last year as well. McNutt is now a three-time All-CCAA pick, having made the second team as a freshman in 2014. Benedetto and Bocchino were second-team choices in 2015.
Benedetto, a fourth-year senior, has been invaluable in central midfield, starting all 18 games. Saddic is a first-year Triton who returned home after redshirting at UC Davis as a true freshman a season ago. The holding central midfielder has drawn 13 starts with one goal offensively. Juniors Ellis and Martinez have 18 and 10 starts at left back and in central midfield, respectively, each with one goal and one assist.
UCSD begins what it hopes will be a lengthy postseason run Friday night in the CCAA Tournament semifinals. The Tritons will be opposed by host and No. 5 seed Stanislaus State, meaning a rematch of the 2015 final in Pomona, which UCSD won, 3-2. The primetime kickoff at Warrior Stadium is slated for 7 p.m. Watch it live here, for free.