Soccer team earns multiple MAC awards

Senior Stephanie Clarke scored five goals this season for EMU.

Following a Mid-American Conference regular season title, the Eastern Michigan University women’s soccer team earned an array of individual awards, including six All-MAC team honors, both Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year awards, as well as the Coach of the Year award.

In his 17th year at the helm, coach Scott Hall picked up his third MAC Coach of the Year award after leading the Eagles to a 12-7-2 record, including going 8-2-1 in the MAC that earned the team its first MAC title since 2003.

“For me, it’s [assistant coach] Joe Malachino, [goalkeeper coach] Dan Diac and the rest of the staff putting in the tough hours, sure my name goes on the trophy, but I wouldn’t be able to do it without them,” Hall said of his award. “Sure, it’s good publicity for Eastern and may help in recruiting, but it took all 36 of us to get where we got.”

Junior forward Angela Vultaggio became the third player in school history to be named the MAC Offensive Player of the Year. Her team leading 13 goals were good for second in the conference, while her eight assists, also team-leading, tied for most in the MAC.

“I was really surprised, it didn’t even cross my mind that I could get that award,” Vultaggio said. “I didn’t really focus on my own stats. As long as we were winning, the other stuff didn’t matter to me.”

Defenseman and fellow junior Emily Dzik also made EMU history, joining former goalkeeper Monique Budani as the only EMU players to ever be named MAC Defensive Player of the Year. The Troy, Mich. native started all 21 games as the teams’ centerback, logging 1,930 minutes, second most on the team. Dzik also pitched in on the offensive front, scoring three goals. Dzik shared this year’s award with Kent State University defenseman Morgan Mah.

“I saw some preseason predictions saying that I was up for MAC Defensive Player of the Year, so I think that motivated me right from the start to play at the kind of level,” Dzik said. “Getting that award is a really good feeling, it makes all the hard work and sweat and tears worth it. It makes me want to start right up again and working toward bettering myself and our team next year.”

Joining Dzik and Vultaggio on the All-MAC First Team were the senior midfield duo of co-captain Cara Cutaia and Stephanie Clarke. Cutaia finished second on the team in goals (11) and assists (seven), while her 29 points was good for third in the conference. The Ontario native finishes her EMU career ranked fifth in goals (22) and fourth in total points (63).

Clarke played a vital role in the EMU attack, also notching seven assists, while scoring five goals, with two of those coming in the 3-0 victory over Ohio in the opening round of the MAC Tournament, while the other three were all from converted penalty shots.

Junior defenseman Marisa Kozikowski earned All-MAC Second Team honors for her stellar play along the stout EMU backline. The offensive-minded defender notched six assists, including two in the same 3-0 victory over Ohio. Like Dzik, Kozikowski started all 21 games for Eastern, tallying 1,928 minutes of play, third on the team.

Eastern may have a budding star on their hands, as freshman midfielder Madison Hirsch was recognized on the All-Freshman Team for her first year success. Hirsch appeared in 19 games for EMU, getting the start in five of those, including both MAC Tournament games. The Troy, Mich. native recorded three points on the year, an assist against Stetson University on Sept. 20 and her first collegiate goal against Toledo on Sept. 29, which was the decisive goal in the 4-3 victory.

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