After an amazing junior year that included numerous accolades related to both her athletic and academic performance, Stephanie Verdoia (Salt Lake City, Utah) of the Seattle University women’s soccer team has been named the female recipient of the 2013-14 Western Athletic Conference Joe Kearney Award, announced Wednesday afternoon by the league office.
Named in honor of former WAC commissioner Joe Kearney, the awards are given annually to the top male and female student-athletes in the WAC and are voted upon by the athletics directors and senior woman administrators at each member institution. Mitchell Huxhold, the WAC Swimmer of the Year representing Bakersfield, was the male recipient of the award this year.
Last fall, Verdoia was voted the WAC Offensive Player of the Year after leading her team to an undefeated conference season, the WAC regular season and tournament titles, and the program’s first-ever appearance in the Division I NCAA Soccer Tournament. She led the WAC in nearly every offensive category during the 2013 season including shots (85), points (42), assists (12), and goals (15), and ranked second in game-winning goals (5).
Besides earning all-WAC and all-tournament honors, Verdoia was also named to the 2013 Capital One Academic All-America Third Team after receiving first team all-district accolades. The recipient of the Bill Fenton Female Athlete of the Year Award at the Seattle U Athletics Awards Show May 28, Verdoia is a two-time Academic All-WAC honoree and was also named to the NSCAA Women’s Scholar All-America Third Team, the only student-athlete from a Division I school in Washington or the Western Athletic Conference to receive the honor from the coach’s association.
“Stephanie is one of the most special, unique young women I have had the privilege of working with in my 17 years as a head coach,” said Julie Woodward, head women's soccer coach. “Her character, consistency and commitment she displays each and every day on the soccer field, whether it is practice or a game, are extremely impressive. She is constantly challenging herself and her teammates to become better athletes and soccer players. She has really changed the face of this program and put us on a different level. She has received so many awards and accolades, and it comes as no surprise. It is no coincidence she uses these same principles and applies them to her academics, her relationships and life in general. She is a pretty amazing person and I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to work with her."
A political science major who earned departmental honors as a junior, Verdoia was inducted into Alpha Sigma Nu, the Jesuit Honor Society, and will be an Ignatian Leader in 2014-15, participating in a program that recognizes graduating students for their demonstrated integration of personal, spiritual, and academic leadership during their Seattle U career. Verdoia, about to serve as Vice President on the Seattle U Student-Athlete Advisory Council for the second straight year, will be one of the school’s representatives at the Western Athletic Conference SAAC meetings later this summer.
Verdoia is the first Joe Kearney Award winner from Seattle University and the first women’s soccer player to ever receive the honor. Starting all 61 Redhawk matches so far in her collegiate career, Verdoia will enter the 2014 season with 29 career goals and 17 career assists, totaling 75 career points.
The Seattle University women’s soccer team is scheduled to report to campus Tuesday, Aug. 5, and open the 2014 regular season with home matches against Idaho Friday, Aug. 22 (5 p.m.), and Kentucky Sunday, Aug. 24 (12 noon). The Redhawks will host the six-team 2014 WAC Women’s Soccer Tournament at Championship Field Nov. 6-9, with the winner of the tournament receiving an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.