UVU soccer: Lauren Sack wins third straight Defensive Player of the Year award

By Kellen Hiser

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 5 2013 12:55 p.m. MST

DENVER — For the third consecutive season, Utah Valley University goalkeeper Lauren Sack claimed Defensive Player of the Year accolades. A two-time winner of the Great West Conference's top defensive honor, Sack is the 2013 recipient of the WAC's special designation.

A senior from Reno, Nev., Sack is Utah Valley soccer's all-time leader in saves (303), save percentage (.771), wins (30), shutouts (11.2), goalkeeper games played (70) and goalkeeper minutes played (5,270). This season she posted four shutouts during league play and was second in the WAC in total saves (90), and she led the league in saves per game (4.74).

"Lauren is a special player," UVU head coach Brent Anderson said. "She has a special ability to keep our team in the game, and she inspires confidence throughout the team with her play and communication. She gets everyone going and has been such a leader on and off the field."

Meanwhile, the Wolverines placed four players on the all-conference first team as forward Natalie Baker, midfielder Haley Curtis and defender Lexi Dunn joined Sack on the list. Baker and Curtis each tallied seven goals in the regular season, with the latter also chipping in a team-high seven assists. Dunn had an assist on the year and was a steady presence for the Wolverine back line this season.

Dunn and Sack have now appeared on the all-conference first team for three straight years, while Baker is making her second appearance on the ticket. Curtis' name printed on the first team ballot for the first time in her career after having been a second team All-GWC pick last season.

"I'm very happy for these four seniors and grateful that the league's other coaches recognized their talent and hard work," Anderson said. "They have meant a tremendous amount to this program, having been part of a championship team for each of the last three years, and they've done so much for UVU soccer.

"These four will be hard to replace next season. They really are the spine of the team. You can't find anyone who works harder than them, and they have been great examples to the rest of the team."

WAC regular-season champion Seattle U also placed four players on the first team, as well as five on the second team.

Seattle U junior forward Stephanie Verdoia was named the WAC's Offensive Player of the Year, while Bakersfield's Hedda Regefalk was named the league's Freshman of the Year and Seattle U's Julie Woodward was named Coach of the Year.

Verdoia, from Salt Lake City, Utah, led the WAC during conference play with 57 shots, 28 points and eight assists. She also ranked tied for first with four game-winning goals and ranked second with 10 goals scored during conference play.

Regefalk, a freshman from Stockholm, Sweden, led Bakersfield with three goals and seven points during WAC play. She also tallied 20 shots, including nine shots on goal during conference play.

Woodward, who is in her 17th season with the Seattle U, led the Redhawks to a perfect 12-0-0 record in conference play to earn the program's first-ever WAC regular season title.

Utah Valley makes the trip to Las Cruces, N.M., on Friday for the semifinals of the 2013 WAC Tournament. There, the Wolverines draw a rematch with second-place finisher Kansas City for a chance to go to Sunday's championship match. That game gets underway at 2 p.m., and follows the noon matchup between top-seeded SU and four-seed Idaho.

Kellen Hiser is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.

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