BEDFORD, N.H. – Seniors Chris Walters (Stamford, Conn.) and Rianna Fasanello (E. Bridgewater, Mass.) received male and female Athlete of the Year honors, respectively, to highlight nine major awards that were handed out Monday night as the Southern New Hampshire University Department of Athletics & Recreation celebrated the 2017-18 season and recognized its seniors at the 53rd 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 University College President Patricia Lynott.
Walters, a forward on the men's basketball team, put together a list of accolades that included National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) East All-District First Team, Division II Conference Commissioners Association (D2CCA) East All-Region First Team and Northeast-10 All-Conference First Team.
Walters started all 27 games this season and averaged 23.7 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.6 blocks per game, while shooting 49.3 percent (198-402) from the field, 44.1 percent (52-118) from beyond the arc and 85.7 percent (191-223) from the stripe. His 191 free throws made are the most in single season in program history, while his 639 total points rank fourth and his scoring average places fifth.
Walters, who registered 12 double-doubles during the season, reached double figures in points 24 times and scored 20 or more points 21 times, including 30-plus on five occasions. Walters scored 20 or more points in eight straight games from Jan. 17 to Feb. 10, including a career-best 35-point outing at Stonehill College on Feb. 3, averaging 27.0 ppg during that span.
The Nov. 27 NE10 Player of the Week led the conference in rebounding, free throws made and blocks per game, while ranking second in scoring, fourth in free throw percentage and steals per game, sixth in field goals made and seventh in 3-point field goal percentage. In the east region, Walters placed second in scoring and free throws made, fourth in rebounding, fifth in blocks per game, sixth in free throw shooting and ninth in field goals made.
Fasanello, who anchored the women's soccer back line, earned United Soccer Coaches All-America Second Team honors to become the first Penmen All-American since 2011. Fasanello was also both a United Soccer Coaches and D2CCA East All-Region First Team selection, the Northeast-10 Defensive Player of the Year and a Northeast-10 All-Conference First Team pick. She helped the team capture its second NE10 title and first NCAA Tournament victory in program history.
Fasanello started all 23 matches and was a key cog in a defensive unit that gave up a league-low 15 goals on the year and paced the conference in goals-against average (0.62). Fasanello, who was named the NE10 Defensive Player of the Week a conference-best three times this season, also registered two points on a goal – the first of her career that helped Southern New Hampshire edge Assumption College, 1-0, Oct. 17 and also earn her recognition on ESPN SportsCenter's Top 10 Plays with the No. 4 play of the night.
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.
Tyler McLaren (Pepperell, Mass.), a senior member of the men's cross country team, was chosen as the male Scholar-Athlete of the Year. McLaren, an international business major, was selected as a Northeast-10 Academic All-Conference honoree for the third straight year. He turned in a magnificent season, winning both the Vermont Tech Invitational and the Bruce Kirsch Cup, while finishing runner-up at the New England Championship, NE10 Championship and NCAA East Regional. McLaren, who garnered NE10 All-Conference First Team and United States Track & field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) All-Region honors, became the second runner in program history to qualify for the NCAA National Championship, where he turned in the highest finish at the meet for a Penmen, placing 43rd out of 249 runners in a time of 32:02.8. McLaren topped the previous SNHU best by 32 spots, while finishing just three spots shy of attaining All-America status.
Abigail Maker (Naples, Maine), a senior forward for women's soccer, was the female recipient of the Scholar-Athlete of the Year award. Maker, an elementary special education major, was both an NE10 All-Conference Second Team and NE10 Academic All-Conference choice. Maker started 19 of the 23 matches she suited up in, registering 15 points on four goals and a team-high seven assists. Maker, who tied for the league lead in helpers and ranked eighth in points, was second on the team in scoring.
The Penmen Pride Award, given by Adrian Haugabrook, Senior Vice President 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.
Men's tennis graduate student Xavier Aubron (Herouville, France) earned the male Penmen Pride Award. Aubron, who is 17-7 in singles play this season and 20-8 at doubles, was named to the NE10 All-Championship Team on Saturday after the Penmen earned their third straight conference crown. Aubron was an NE10 All-Conference First Team pick at No. 4 singles and a Second Teamer at No. 1 doubles.
Senior Paige Salmon (W. Hempstead, N.Y.) was tabbed the female Penmen Pride Award winner. The women's soccer goalkeeper is a justice studies major and was an NE10 Academic All-Conference selection. Salmon also earned a Third Team honor for both the United Soccer Coaches East All-Region and NE10 All-Conference squads. The Oct. 30 NE10 Goalkeeper of the Week, Salmon led the league in GAA (0.62), shutouts (12) and minutes played (2174:08), while tying for first in wins (15) and ranking fifth in save percentage (.826) and eighth in total saves (71). Salmon, who started all 23 matches and played every single second in net, placed second, nationally, in minutes played, and ranked inside the top 30 in the country in GAA.
Vice President of Student Affairs 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.
Senior Michael Rowley (Cooperstown, N.Y.), the male Unsung Hero Award winner and a forward on the men's soccer team, was also an NE10 Academic All-Conference honoree. Rowley tallied 15 points on six goals and three assists, ranking 13th in the league in goals, 17th in points and 26th in assists. The team was 6-0 when Rowley scored a goal and 7-0 when he registered a point.
The female Unsung Hero Award went to senior Brittany Perdigao (Stoughton, Mass.), a shortstop on the softball team. Through 43 games, Perdigao is batting .361 with 11 RBI, 37 runs and seven stolen bases. She ranks second in the conference in runs and sacrifice hits (16), 10th in hits, 11th in stolen bases and 13th in batting.
Salmon was also selected as the winner of the sixth annual Jim Atherton Award, presented by former Coordinator of Athletic Communications Erin Baldwin. 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 Associate Director of Athletics Tom Wilkins served as the Master of Ceremonies. Dinner followed both the year-in-review highlight video, created by Coordinator of Athletic Communications Geoff Lopes, 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 Director of Athletic Communications Eric Coplin after being addressed by Executive Director of Alumni Engagement Kristi Durette.
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