Elon Women’s Soccer – Chris Neal Named SoCon Coach of the Year

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Elon University head women’s soccer coach Chris Neal has been voted the 2012 Southern Conference Coach of the Year by the conference’s head coaches, the league office announced today, Oct. 30. In addition, senior defender Shannon Foley was named a second-team all-league selection.

Chris Neal

“I am so happy and excited for Shannon. She is a wonderful student-athlete, the kind that every coach wants on their team,” Neal said. “She has been a glowing example of what senior leadership should be this season. She has really come up big for us in a number of games and we are going to miss her tremendously when she graduates.”

“It is also truly an honor to be named coach of the year in this league. The head coaches in the SoCon are as good as it gets and do fantastic jobs with their programs,” Neal added. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for them and am very grateful for their friendships. I share this award with our entire staff and team. Stuart Horne, Julie Isley and John McCallister do a wonderful job for our program and our players are hard working and enjoyable to coach. Our athletic trainer, Jodi McConnell, is the MVP of our team this year. She has kept us together and is the biggest player in our success this season.”

Neal, now in his fifth season at Elon, led the Phoenix to a winning mark in league play for the fourth straight season in 2012. This past weekend, Neal led Elon to its second SoCon Tournament semifinals appearance in the last three seasons, as the fifth-seeded Phoenix went on the road for a 1-0 win at fourth-seeded Appalachian State. The Phoenix heads into Friday’s match with a total of eight shutouts this season – the most by an Elon team since the 2009 season when the Phoenix also posted eight shutouts. Elon is one shutout away from tying the Division I mark set by the 1999 squad and four away from tying the all-time shutout record of 12 set by the 1991 team.

A native of Natick, Mass., Foley has helped anchor the maroon and gold defense to a total of eight shutouts this season, including three straight against conference opponents Georgia Southern, Davidson and Chattanooga. Foley has scored two goals this season, including a key score in a 2-1 win for the Phoenix at Furman on Oct. 7. Foley also scored this year against Samford and earned an assist against Appalachian State. She has started in all 21 matches this season and enters Friday’s tilt against GSU with 77 games played under her belt, which is tied for sixth all-time in Elon history.

The Phoenix makes the trek to Birmingham, Ala., for the semifinals of the 2012 Southern Conference Tournament this weekend, as the fifth-seeded Phoenix takes on eighth-seeded Georgia Southern on Friday, Nov. 2, at 6 p.m. (ET) at the Samford Track & Soccer Stadium. The winner will advance to the championship match on Sunday, Nov. 4, at 2 p.m. (ET) on ESPN3.

2012 Women’s Soccer All-Conference Team

Player of the Year – Stephanie DeVita, Fr., F, Furman
Coach of the Year – Chris Neal, Elon
Freshman of the Year – Stephanie DeVita, F, Furman

First Team
F     Julia Holz, Appalachian State
F     Stephanie DeVita, Furman
F     Markie-Lynn Studnicky, Western Carolina
MF    Mariana Garcia, The Citadel
MF    Hannah Stanifer, Furman
MF    Michelle Moll, Samford
D     Zoe Van Gorder, Georgia Southern
D     Cat Barnekow, UNCG
D     Adrianne Mancino, Samford
D     Sabbath McKiernan-Allen, Samford
GK    Rose Hull, Furman
Second Team
F     Vanessa Aponte, The Citadel
F     Lauren Hein, UNCG
F     Brittany Hoffman, Samford
MF    Sarah Schaidle, College of Charleston
MF    India Robinson, Furman
MF    Karin Sendel, UNCG
MF    Trine Taule, Samford
D     Julie Calhoun, Davidson
D     Shannon Foley, Elon
D     Ali Simpson, Furman
D     Stephanie Partenheimer, UNCG
GK    Jamie Simmons, UNCG

All-Freshman Team
Samantha Childress, Appalachian State
Jannel Johnson, The Citadel
Jamie Alexander, Furman
Stephanie DeVita, Furman
Rose Hull, Furman
Nora El-Shami, Georgia Southern
Katherine Rodriguez, UNCG
Jamie Simmons, UNCG
Chesney White, UNCG
Alissa Hansen, Samford
Markie-Lynn Studnicky, Western Carolina