BEDFORD, N.H. – Senior Rodney Sanders (Elizabeth, N.J.) and freshman Kristin Wilder (Framingham, Mass.) took home male and female Athlete of the Year honors, respectively, to highlight nine major awards that were given out Monday night as the Southern New Hampshire University Department of Athletics & Recreation celebrated the 2015-16 season and recognized its seniors at the 51st Annual Athletic Awards Ceremony, which was held at the Manchester Country Club.
The Athlete of the Year award, given to a student-athlete whose outstanding play brought about both regional and national recognition for that player and for Southern New Hampshire University, was handed out by SNHU President and CEO, Paul LeBlanc.
Sanders, a guard on the 23-11 men's basketball team that captured its second Northeast-10 Championship and advanced to the NCAA East Region semifinals, was tabbed as an NABC East All-District First Team, D2CCA East All-Region Second Team and Northeast-10 All-Conference First Team selection after averaging 20.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.5 steals per game, while shooting 54.7 percent from the field, 51.7 percent from downtown and 87.6 percent from the stripe. Sanders was the first Penmen ever to be invited to the Reese's NABC Division II All-Star Game, where he scored a game-high 23 points down in Frisco, Texas.
Sanders led the nation in 3-point shooting, while scoring in double figures in 32 of 34 contests, including 17 straight from Nov. 21-Jan. 26. Sanders' 682 points and 104 made 3-pointers this season both rank third in the SNHU record book.
Wilder has put together one of the greatest single seasons in women's lacrosse program history during her first year in a Penmen uniform, amassing 74 points on 68 goals and six assists through the first 15 contests of the year. The attacker is leading the entire conference in goals, while ranking third in points, for an 11-4 squad that has matched the best start to a season for a SNHU women's lax team.
Wilder is just two markers shy of matching the single-season program record for goals, while her 74 points have toppled Sherry Darrell's 2008 record of 71 points for most ever by a freshman in program history.
Doug Blais, Faculty Athletics Representative and a professor of sport management at SNHU, presented the Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards, which are given to a student-athlete, who has attained excellence in the classroom and on the playing field. The winner must be a starter or an important reserve and must have completed at least one academic year at Southern New Hampshire University.
Jonathan Lupinelli, a graduate back on the 19-1-1 men's soccer team that captured its fourth straight Northeast-10 Championship and made it to the NCAA third round, was selected as the male Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Lupinelli was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America First Team and tabbed NSCAA Scholar All-America this season, while earning the Northeast-10 Men's Soccer Sport Excellence Award for the second time. The three-time NE-10 Academic All-Conference selection graduated with a 3.97 GPA in his Master's program for marketing.
On the pitch this season, Lupinelli was part of a back line that featured the league's best goals-against average at 0.47, which was nearly twice as low as the next closest opponent. Lupinelli also dished eight assists, which ranked him second on the team and third in the NE-10.
Alexa Allen, a senior attacker for women's lacrosse, was the female recipient of the Scholar-Athlete of the Year award. Allen is a seven-time Northeast-10 Commissioner's Honor Roll selection. The education major has a 3.91 GPA and earned a spot on the NE-10 Academic All-Conference Team in 2014.
On the field in 15 games this season, Allen has registered 46 points on 22 goals and 24 assists. Her 24 helpers are second on the team and rank fifth in the league.
The Penmen Pride Award, given by Wil Zemp, Senior Vice President for Strategy and University Chief of Staff, is presented to a senior student-athlete, who represents what it means to be an SNHU student-athlete, displaying excellence in all phases of the student-athlete experience.
Graduate student Mike Mastroberti (Ramsey, N.J.), a second baseman on the fifth-ranked baseball team that is 37-3 and currently owns the longest winning streak in the nation at 19 games, earned the male Penmen Pride Award. A leader on and off the field, Mastroberti elected to finish out his career in a Penmen uniform, returning after missing nearly all of last season due to injury. The captain volunteered his time with Howie's Field of Dreams, a field in Rochester, N.H., where young players, ages 5-20, with physical and/or mental challenges, can enjoy playing the game of baseball.
On the field in 40 games this season, Mastroberti is hitting .364 with 28 extra-base hits, including two home runs, 45 RBI and 39 runs scored. The captain, who is currently riding a team-best 13-game hitting streak, has set a new single-season program record with 12 triples. Mastroberti leads the Northeast-10 in extra-base hits, doubles and triples, while ranking second in RBI.
Senior Erin Doherty (Marshfield, Mass.) was tabbed the female Penmen Pride Award winner. The women's basketball forward earned her degree in just three years, while maintaining a 3.95 GPA. Doherty turned down a full-time job to return for her senior year on the hardwood and is currently pursuing her MBA.
On the court, the two-year captain averaged 8.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game, while shooting 45.4 percent from the floor. Doherty helped the Penmen to an 8-0 start, matching the 1988-89 team for the best open to a season in program history.
Dean of Students Heather Lorenz bestowed the Unsung Hero Award upon the recipients. The Unsung Hero Award goes to a senior student-athlete, who made major contributions to the success of the team, but was overlooked for major postseason awards.
Grad student Ryan Gendron (Nashua, N.H.), the male Unsung Hero Award winner and baseball's starting right fielder, has 16 extra-base hits, including a team-best nine home runs, 39 RBI and 44 runs scored through the first 40 games of the season. The grad student is third on the team in RBI and runs, while playing an error-free right field and successfully swiping 22 of 24 bases.
The female Unsung Hero Award went to senior Bridget O'Sullivan (So Grafton, Mass.), a back on the women's soccer team that went 11-5-2 and earned its first Northeast-10 Championship berth since 2012. O'Sullivan played in all 18 matches this season, helping to anchor a backline that ranked fourth the in the Northeast-10 with a 0.78 GAA. O'Sullivan also contributed offensively with two goals and an assist for five points.
Jake Pickles was selected as the winner of the fourth annual Jim Atherton Award, presented by Associate Director of Athletics James Gassman. The award was created in memory of Jim Atherton '13, a student worker in the athletic department for two years, who passed away following a battle with Ewing's sarcoma in March 2013. The award is given annually to an outstanding student worker in the SNHU athletic department.
Anthony Fallacaro, Director of Athletics & Recreation, opened the night with his welcome, while Executive Vice President and University College Provost Patricia Lynott provided the opening remarks. Dinner followed both the year-in-review highlight video and the invocation, which was delivered by Fr. Bruce Collard, Director of Campus Ministry.
After dinner, senior gifts were presented by the head coaches of each team, who were invited up on stage by Fallacaro and Associate Director of Athletics Tom Wilkins.
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Major Award Winners
Female Athlete of the Year: Kristin Wilder, women's lacrosse
Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Jonathan Lupinelli, men's soccer
Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Alexa Allen, women's lacrosse
Male Penmen Pride Award: Mike Mastroberti, baseball
Female Penmen Pride Award: Erin Doherty, women's basketball
Male Unsung Hero Award: Ryan Gendron, baseball
Female Unsung Hero Award: Bridget O'Sullivan, women's soccer
Jim Atherton Award: Jake Pickles
Women's Cross Country
Men's Cross Country
Men's Ice Hockey
Women's Track & Field