MONTREAL (CIS) - Alyssa Lagonia, a fourth-year midfielder from Wilfrid Laurier University, was named the Canadian Interuniversity Sport player of the year in women's soccer, Wednesday night.
The native of Kitchener, Ont., became the second Golden Hawk player to claim the Chantal Navert memorial award since the inception of the trophy, joigning Gigi Cignini, who was the inaugural recipient back in 1995.
Other individual award winners announced in Montreal during the All-Canadian gala were McGill's Alexandria Hoyte, a midfielder from Laval, Que., who was named rookie of the year; Acadia's Cathleen Bleakney, a fullback from Port Williams, N.S., who received the Student-Athlete Community Service award; as well as Trinity Western's Graham Roxburgh, who merited the coach-of-the-year award, presented by Coaches of Canada.
The 2011 CIS championship, hosted by McGill University, gets under way at Percival Molson Stadium on Thursday and culminates with the national final Sunday at 4 p.m. All games from the tournament will be webcast by SSN Canada.
Official championship website: http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/wsoc/index
CHANTAL NAVERT MEMORIAL AWARD (player of the year): Alyssa Lagonia, Wilfrid Laurier
Lagonia was nothing short of dominant in her fourth and final campaign with the Golden Hawks. The 22-year-old business major tallied five goals in 14 conference games while taking all corner kicks and all free kicks in the offensive zone for Laurier. Her offensive talent and ability to control the ball in the midfield was a factor in helping the Hawks set a school record for most goals scored in a season (36).
After guiding Laurier to the CIS final last year, Lagonia sparked her team to a 12-2 first-place finish in the OUA West this fall. The Hawks were ranked in the top five all season in the national coaches poll, including five consecutive weeks at No. 1 from mid-September to mid-October. Her stellar play was recognized with a fourth straight selection as a first-team OUA West all-star and a spot on the first all-Canadian squad for the second year in a row.
A former member of the national under-20 team, Lagonia wore the Canadian jersey last summer at the Universiade in China, where the team matched its best result ever with a fifth-place finish.
"Alyssa is one of the most professional players I have had the pleasure of coaching during my career," commented Laurier head coach BARRY MACLEAN. "She is technically gifted and makes everyone around her a better player. Alyssa has raised the profile of our program during her time here with her ability to take over a game when we need her too."
Forward Kelly Burgess of Saint Mary's, Eva Thouvenot-Hebert of Montreal and Janine Frazao of UBC were the other nominees for the Chantal Navert award.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Alexandria Hoyte, McGill
Hoyte is the second member of the Martlets and the first since Alanna Maloney in 1999 to capture CIS rookie-of-the-year honours.
The 19-year-old chemical engineering student was second on the team in scoring with seven points, including three goals. In 14 regular season contests, the 5-foot-7 freshman was named player of the game by the opposing coach eight times. Her efforts helped McGill take third place in the RSEQ standings with an 8-3-3 record.
After earning all-conference honours in the Quebec league, the Dawson College product also merited a spot on the second all-Canadian team.
"Alexandria is a technically gifted central midfielder who possesses a great vision of the field, combines game awareness with good foot skills and can strike the ball from anywhere," says McGill head coach Marc Mounicot. "A play-maker who is able to set plays and control our offensive patterns, she is strong on the ball, also has the ability to carry it up the field or jump into the attack after receiving a pass. She is very good at making her teammates better on the field."
Cape Breton forward Karolyne Blain, Wilfrid Laurier striker Emily Brown and UBC goalkeeper Allyssa Williamson were also in the running for the top-freshman award.
STUDENT-ATHLETE COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD: Cathleen Bleakney, Acadia
Bleakney, a fourth-year defender with the Axewomen, has been a role model since the first day she arrived on the Wolfville, N.S., campus.
An Academic All-Canadian majoring in kinesiology, she volunteers with countless organizations and causes in the community and on campus, including at Camp Brigadoon for kids and youth living with chronic illness; at Port Williams Elementary school, where she teaches a young girl how to read; with Breakthrough Athletics, meeting once a week with a local kid; as a co-organizer of the Acadia Athletics Axe on Hunger food drive; at the annual Teddy Bear Toss in support of Chrysalis House; with the Sensory Motor Instructional Leadership Experience (SMILE) program; as a race marshall at the Run for the Cure event with her Axewomen teammates; as a team guide at the Hannah Miller memorial hockey tournament; as well as a monitor at Acadia soccer and hockey camps in the summer.
"Cathleen's leadership skills are well regarded not only within the Acadia Athletic Department but also within the local community, especially with young children in difficult circumstances," said Acadia athletic director Kevin Dickie. "She is also an Academic All-Canadian student and even with all the time she spends as a varsity athlete and volunteer, she is always available for her teammates and coaches, she is the first one to offer to help in any situation."
The other nominees for the award were Bishop's Samantha Juraschka, Toronto's Zovel Hyre and Alberta's Carleigh Miller.
COACH OF THE YEAR (presented by Coaches of Canada): Graham Roxburgh, Trinity Western
Roxburgh enjoyed yet another exceptional campaign at the helm at Trinity Western. Ranked in the national top 10 all season, his squad finished league play with a program best 12-1-1 record, good for first place in Canada West, before capturing a second conference title in three years. The Spartans were the highest-scoring team in the league with 31 goals in 14 games while placing second in defence with only seven goals allowed.
Named TWU head coach in 1998, Roxburgh and his program joined CIS in 2001 and have since enjoyed unparalleled success. The Spartans have already claimed four Canada West banners and three Gladys Bean memorial trophies as CIS champions. They go into the 2011 national championship sporting a 10-1-1 lifetime mark at the tournament. Under his guidance, the Spartans have an all-time overall record of 141-63-38 (.661) in CIS play.
Roxburgh also coached the Canadian women's soccer team at the last two Summer Universiades. He guided the Red and White to seventh place in 2009 in Serbia and a fifth-place finish last summer in China, matching the team's best-ever result at the world university games. As director of soccer for Athletes in Action, he has coached and played against several national teams from around the world, including Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, South Africa, Ireland, Zimbabwe and Croatia.
"What a special honour for Graham to be selected by his peers for this prestigious award," said Murray Hall, director of athletics at Trinity Western. "Graham has set the standard for coaching excellence at TWU in a number of areas under our Complete Champion Approach. He has built a quality expert-based staff around him and recruited top student-athletes who fit the high performance, high-character culture he demands."
Saint Mary's Mark Sweetapple, UQTR's Ghislain Tapsoba and Toronto's Anthony Capotosto were the other nominees.
Joining Lagonia on the first unit were conference MVP's Burgess, Thouvenot-Hebert and Frazao, Trinity Western goalkeeper Kristen Funk, defenders Justine Labrecque of UQAM, Kelly Cook of UBC and Kelsey Tikka of Laurier, midfielders Rieka Santilli of Dalhousie and Riley Filion of Queen's, as well as Alberta forward Heather Lund.
Lagonia, Thouvenot-Hebert and Lund all return from last years top CIS squad, while Labrecque was a second-team selection back in 2008.
In addition to Hoyte, the second all-Canadian unit includes AUS rookie of the year Blain, Montreal keeper Martine Julien, fullbacks Meaghan Ramsden of StFX, Gillian Baggot of Ottawa and Sara Stewart of UPEI, midfielders Jaclyn Sawicki of Victoria, Melissa Mobilio of Trinity Western, Veronique Maranda of Montreal and Tania Pedron of Laurier, as well as Queen's striker Jacqueline Tessier.
Stewart (second team), Pedron (first) and Tessier (first) were CIS all-stars in 2010, while Maranda (first) was previously honoured in 2008.
Coach of the year (presented by Coaches of Canada): Graham Roxburgh, Trinity Western
Forward Heather Lund Alberta 5 Red Deer, Alta. Nursing