JMU roundup: Dukes’ Steele named to award watch list

Daily Staff Report – sports@nvdaily.com

HARRISONBURG — James Madison University redshirt freshman linebacker Gage Steele has been named to the Jerry Rice Award Watch List for the most outstanding freshman in Division I FCS this season, The Sports Network announced on Wednesday.

A Warren County High School graduate, Steele was just named the Sports Network National Freshman of the Week and Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Week after posting a career-high 18 tackles, including 13 solo stops in a 40-13 win over Albany on Saturday. His 13 solo tackles tie the most by any JMU player since 1999 and the 18 total tackles are the highest single-game output in the CAA this season.

Steele has started all six games for the Dukes and currently ranks second on the team, second in the CAA and 19th in the nation at 10.3 tackles per contest, having recorded 62 total tackles, 23 solos, 2.5 tackles for loss, one sack and a forced fumble.

The Jerry Rice Award, which honors the national freshman of the year in FCS, was first given in 2011 and is named after Division I-AA All-American and Pro Football Hall of Fame Wide Receiver Jerry Rice, who played for Mississippi Valley State from 1980-1984.

The Jerry Rice Award Watch List can be amended throughout the 2013 season. The award is voted on by a national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and others following the regular season and the winner will be invited to the FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation on Dec. 16.

Field hockey

HARRISONBURG — The James Madison field hockey squad posted its third straight home shutout on Wednesday night as the Dukes downed Radford, 6-0. Five of the Dukes’ six goals came in the second half.

JMU improved to 7-6 on the year, including 5-0 at home, as senior Stephanie Tarafas earned her second shutout of the season (4-2) in goal behind three saves and zero goals against. The Highlanders dropped to 4-9 this season as Sidney Encarnacion took the loss (3-9) after committing nine saves and allowing six goals.

Redshirt-sophomore Taylor West notched two goals and an assist in the game, with all three coming on the first three JMU scores. Her two goals, scored in the 10th and 42nd minutes of the game, came off straight corners with assists from senior Amy Goldstein and junior Dana Allaband on both.

With 22:52 remaining in the game, junior Taylor Bailey scored her first of two goals on the night when she tipped-in a swift pass from West after a corner to give JMU the 3-0 advantage. Bailey also powered in the final goal of the evening off a cross pass from junior Bethany Ashworth, her first assist of the year.

Goldstein had an unassisted goal off a shot from the top of the circle in the 50th minute of play to give the Dukes a 4-0 lead. It was her fourth goal of the year and third in the last five games.

Sophomore Danni Wilson fired in her second goal of the season with less than three minutes remaining in play after a scramble for a loose ball pulled Encarnacion out of the net.

JMU outshot Radford 20-4, including 15 shots on goal by the Dukes to the Highlanders’ three shots on goal. JMU also earned eight corners to Radford’s one corner.

The Dukes now have a nine-day break before their final road trip of the season. JMU heads to Davidson on Oct. 18 for a 6:30 p.m. game before traveling to No. 15 Wake Forest on Oct. 20 for a 1 p.m. matchup.