FAIRFIELD, CT (April 27, 2012) - The Northeast Conference announced their 2012 postseason awards Thursday night with Sacred Heart junior Emily Pepe (East Quogue, NY), sophomores Kelsey Russo (Lindenhurst, NY) and Samantha Villafranca (Wading River, NY) and freshman Kelly Keenan (Wantagh, NY) earning all-conference honors. The awards were announced at the NEC Women's Lacrosse banquet at the Trumbull Marriott as a kick-off to the 2012 NEC Tournament.
Pepe earns All-Northeast Conference honors for the second time in her career, earning a spot on the first team this season after picking up second team honors last spring. Pepe led the Pioneers this season with 71 points on 28 goals and 43 assists. She ranks second in the league in both points per game (4.44) and assists per game (2.69). Both also rank fifth among the nation's leaders. Pepe set a new school record in 2012, breaking the mark for assists in a season set by Mary Montesarchio in 2008 (43).
Russo, Villafranca and Keenan all picked-up All-NEC second team honors, their first all-conference nods. Russo made the move to midfield this season and turned in an all-around season for the Pioneers. Russo posted 29 goals and eight assists on the offensive end and became a dominant force in the draw circle. She was third in the NEC 56 draw controls. She also led the team in caused turnovers (20) and was second in ground balls (35).
Villafranca proved to be effective on the circle, ranking second on the team in draw wins with 35. The sophomore defender has limited several of the league's offensive threats to one goal or less and has booked 15 caused turnovers and 25 ground balls this season.
As a rookie Keenan stepped into goal this season and turned in the third best save percentage (.450) in the league. She has posted an even 8-8 record while making 153 saves on the year. Her 153 saves ranked fifth in the nation and her 9.56 saves per game ranks 10th. She also picked up 46 ground balls which ranks her fourth in the league. Keenan also was named to the All-NEC Rookie team.
The Pioneers are the #1 seed and host of the NEC Tournament. SHU will play #4 seed Mount St. Mary's at 1:00 pm Friday afternoon.