SU roundup: Hornets garner ODAC field hockey honors

Daily Staff Report – sports@nvdaily.com

FOREST — Shenandoah University grabbed two of the three major Old Dominion Athletic Conference field hockey awards in accolades released Wednesday afternoon by the conference office.

Junior forward Ashley Cross has been named as the league’s Player of the Year while coach Ashley Smeltzer garnered Coach of the Year honors.

Cross is one of three SU players to be named first team All-ODAC and one of five to earn All-ODAC accolades.

This is the second straight year that a Hornets head coach has been named Coach of the Year for field hockey.

Kim Iman-Bianchi was named last year following an 11-win season.

For Cross, she becomes the first SU student-athlete, male or female, to be named ODAC Player of the Year.

The Agawam, Mass., native led the league in regular-season goals and scoring with 14 and 31, respectively, and was named to the league’s honor roll on three different occasions.

Cross, a dual sport athlete that also earned All-ODAC honors in lacrosse last spring, finished the year with a program-record 16 goals and a second-best-in-school-history 34 points.

Smeltzer, who took over the program in March, led her squad to a 10-10 season that included a best-ever six-win conference season that earned the team the second seed in the conference tournament.

Shenandoah finished the regular season on a four-match winning streak, outscoring opponents 11-4 in that span.

Senior goalkeeper Sarah Clare and sophomore midfielder Presha Merritt join Cross as first-team selections.

Clare finished the year second in the league in save percentage and third in saves as she backstopped the Hornets to those 10 overall wins.

She had five shutouts on the season.

Merritt led the squad with six assists on the year and finished fourth in points to earn first-team honors.

The remaining two honorees came to the second and third teams.

Sophomores Kelani Bailey and Sarah Brock were named to the second and third teams, respectively, with Bailey picked as a forward and Brock on defense.

Both women were named ODAC Player of the Week one time this season, with Bailey tapped on Sept. 23 after scoring three goals in games against York (Pa.) and Washington & Jefferson, and Brock on Oct. 28 following a one goal, one assist performance in wins over Eastern Mennonite and Roanoke.

Bailey had nine goals and three assists for 21 points on the year, with Brock posting five goals and four assists for 14 points.