Iritxity Irigoyen has been named the BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year, Co-Freshmen of the Year and All-BIG EAST first team.
BIG EAST Release
No. 6 Liberty featured six players on the Spring 2021 All-BIG EAST Field Hockey teams released by the league office on Wednesday afternoon prior to the start of the BIG EAST Field Hockey Championship.
Liberty freshman goalkeeper Azul Iritxity Irigoyen was named BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year, BIG EAST Co-Freshman of the Year and an All-BIG EAST first team selection.
Meanwhile, Jill Bolton, Daniella Rhodes, Jodie Conolly and Charlotte Vaanhold were each named to the All-BIG EAST first team, giving Liberty five first team honorees for the first time in program history. The Lady Flames led all BIG EAST squads with their five first team selections. Sophomore defender Bethany Dykema garnered inclusion on the All-BIG EAST second team.
Liberty's coaching staff rounded out the awards, earning BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year honors for the first time.
The Lady Flames' six all-conference selections also marks a new school record. Liberty has featured 23 total all-conference selections (17 first team, six second teams) in its first five seasons in the BIG EAST Conference. Iritxity Irigoyen is Liberty's third BIG EAST Freshman of the Year in program history, joining Rhodes (2019) and former Lady Flames goalkeeper Allison Schaefer (2016).
The awards were determined by voting from BIG EAST coaches who cannot cast ballots for their own players.
Liberty (13-2) went 10-2 in BIG EAST play this spring and is the No. 2 seed for the BIG EAST Field Hockey Championship. The Lady Flames will face No. 3 seed Old Dominion (8-4, 8-3 BIG EAST) in Thursday's second semifinal contest at 4 p.m. at the Proving Grounds in Conshohocken, Pa.
Azul Iritxity Irigoyen Iritxity Irigoyen, a goalkeeper, is the first freshman in Liberty field hockey history to be named BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year. She is the third player in school history to be named BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year, joining Serena Barr (2016) and Ashley Dykema (2019), who both earned BIG EAST Co-Defensive Player of the Year distinction.
Iritxity Irigoyen, who hails from Buenos Aires, Argentina, earned four straight BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Week awards from March 1-22 and also received Play Safe/NFHCA Division I Defensive Player of the Week recognition on March 24. She has appeared in 14 games this season (12 starts) and holds an 11-2 record with a 1.12 goals-against-average, .818 save percentage, 63 saves and three shutouts. Iritxity Irigoyen's .818 save percentage ranks 10th-best in the country.
She appeared in 11 of Liberty's 12 BIG EAST games this season, posting an 8-2 record, 1.11 goals-against-average, a .807 save percentage, 46 saves and three shutouts. Irixity Irigoyen was at her best this season against some of the nation's best teams. Her two games of double-digit saves came in back-to-back contests versus Connecticut (March 14) and No. 12 Duke (March 21). Iritxity Irigoyen made 12 saves in Liberty's 4-0 shutout win against the Huskies, its first-ever victory over UConn. The goalkeeper made 12 stops in the Lady Flames' 3-2 double overtime road triumph versus the Blue Devils, their first-ever win against Duke.
Jill Bolton Bolton is the first player in program history to be named to the All-BIG EAST first team four times. The senior forward from Souderton, Pa. earned two Play Safe/NFHCA Division I Offensive Player of the Week honors and three BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week awards.
Bolton leads the team in assists (12) and points (40) in 2021 and ranks second on the squad in goals with 14. She is currently No. 4 in the country in points per game (2.67), No. 8 in assists per game (0.80) and No. 10 in goals per game (0.93).
In 12 BIG EAST regular season contests, Bolton tallied nine goals, nine assists and 27 points, all marks that rank second on the squad. She has scored multiple goals four times this spring, with two of her multiple-goal games coming against top competition in No. 12 Duke (two goals, March 21) and Old Dominion (two goals, March 6). Bolton also notched her second career hat trick in the Lady Flames' final regular season game against Davidson, April 11.
In 71 career games (70 starts), Bolton is the program's active leader in goals (42), assists (26) and points (110). She ranks fourth in school history in career goals, tied for third in assists and fourth in points.
Daniella Rhodes Rhodes, a sophomore forward, is now a two-time All-BIG EAST first team honoree, as she received the same award in 2019. This season, the Durban, South Africa native has one national honor, as she was named Play Safe/NFHCA Division I Offensive Player of the Week on Feb. 17. Rhodes was also selected as the BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week, Feb. 15, and was a four-time BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll recipient.
Rhodes has started all 15 games this year and is the team leader in goals (16) and ranks tied for fourth on the squad in assists (6) and second in points (38). She currently ranks seventh in the nation in both goals per game (1.07) and points per game (2.53).
During the conference season (12 games), the forward paced the squad in goals (14) and points (33) and was third in assists (5). Rhodes recorded multiple goals in four games this season and had her second career three-goal game versus Villanova, Feb. 21. She scored one or more goals in her first nine games, this season. In four regular season games versus Old Dominion, Rhodes led the team with six goals and had one assist for 13 points.
In 33 career games for the Lady Flames, all starts, Rhodes has 29 goals, 15 assists and 73 points. She is tied for sixth in program history in career goals and eighth in points.
Jodie Conolly Conolly, a sophomore defender, has seven goals, two assists and 16 points in 15 games this season, all starts. The Pietermartizburg, South Africa native has scored all seven of her goals this year on penalty corner drag flicks. In 12 conference games this year, Conolly scored five goals while adding two assists and 12 points.
Conolly earned BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll distinction on April 5 for her performance in a pair of 2-0 home wins over Temple (April 3 and 4). Conolly had three goals, two assists and eight points in those contests.
Conolly also scored goals at No. 12 Duke (March 21), against Villanova (Feb. 21), at Temple (Feb. 28) and versus Davidson (April 11). Conolly and the Liberty defense have recorded six shutouts in 2021, two shy of matching a program record.
Charlotte Vaanhold Vaanhold, a native of Hollandsche Rading, Netherlands, is now a two-time All-BIG EAST honoree after earning All-BIG EAST second team honors in 2019. The junior forward earned her first career BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll distinction on April 13 for her three-goal performance against Davidson, April 11. Vaanhold has two hat tricks this season with the other coming versus Villanova, Feb. 21.
In 15 games this season, all starts, Vaanhold ranks third on the team in goals (9) and has two assists and 20 points. In 12 BIG EAST contests, she totaled six goals, two assists and 14 points.
In 52 career games for the Lady Flames, Vaanhold has totaled 19 goals, seven assists and 45 points.
Bethany Dykema Dykema, a defender from Newport News, Va., is receiving her first All-BIG EAST honor. The sophomore was honored as the BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Week on April 5 and also received BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll recognition, Feb. 22.
Dykema shares the team lead in assists with 12 and ranks eighth nationally in assists per game (0.80) The sophomore had multiple assists in two games this season (Villanova, Feb. 21 and Temple, April 4) and has one or more assists in each of her last four games. In 12 league games, Dykema led the team with 10 assists while also scoring three goals and tallying 16 points (third on team).
Dykema has also scored four goals this season and is tied for third on the team with 20 points. She scored a career-best two goals versus Temple, April 3. Dykema and the Lady Flames defense have recorded six shutouts in 2021 and have only surrendered three goals off penalty corners all season.
Liberty Coaching Staff This is the first time that the Liberty field hockey coaching staff has been named BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year. The coaching staff consists of fourth-year head coach Nikki Parsley-Blocker, assistant coach Heather Hefner and assistant coach Alan Good. The staff has guided Liberty to a 13-2 mark so far this season and a 10-2 BIG EAST record.
The Lady Flames have been listed among the top six teams in the nation in all six national polls this spring, including a program-best No. 4 ranking on March 23. The No. 4 ranking is the highest ranking of any Liberty Athletics sport at the NCAA Division I level. Liberty defeated UConn (March 14) and Duke (March 21) for the first time in program history.
BIG EAST Awards
BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year Sophie Hamilton, Connecticut, So., M
BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year Azul Iritxity Irigoyen, Liberty, Fr., GK
BIG EAST Co-Freshmen of the Year Claire van den Noort, Connecticut, Fr., D Azul Iritxity Irigoyen, Liberty, Fr., GK Marlon De Bruijne, Old Dominion, Fr., F
BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year Liberty
All-BIG EAST First Team Azul Iritxity Irigoyen, Liberty, Fr., GK Kourtney Kennedy, UConn, Sr., D Delphine Le Jeune, Old Dominion, So., D/M ^ Veronika Novakova, Temple, Grad/Sr., M Sophie Hamilton, UConn, So., M ^ Madison Babineau, Providence, Sr., M Jess Dembrowski, UConn, Sr., F Jill Bolton, Liberty, Sr., F Jodie Connolly, Liberty, So., D Daniella Rhodes, Liberty, So., F ^ Charlotte Vaanhold, Liberty, Jr., F Marlon De Bruijne, Old Dominion, Fr. F
All-BIG EAST Second Team Cheyenne Sprecher, UConn, Jr., GK Christina Carotenuto, Temple, Sr., GK Lindsay Dickinson, UConn, Jr., D Claire van den Noort, UConn, Fr., D Bethany Dykema, Liberty, So., D Marlee McClendon, Old Dominion, R-Sr., D Jessie Halley, Quinnipiac, Jr., D Nienke Orelemans, Temple, Jr., D Sabine Deruijter, Villanova, Fr., D Nicole Fredericks, Old Dominion, So., D Rina Tsioles, Old Dominion, Fr., M Kaitlyn Cummins, Temple, Fr., M Riley Taylor, Old Dominion, Jr., F Meghan Mitchell, Villanova, Fr., F
* there are extra members on the all-conference teams due to a tie in voting ^ denotes unanimous selection
We featured a program-record 6? All-@BIGEAST recipients. Additionally, we had a conference-best 5? All-@BIGEAST first team honorees. Here they are???? ??: https://t.co/6h2gjKJ0ih#CloseTheGap #RiseWithUs #BIGEASTfh pic.twitter.com/mkJ1HcKmxT — Liberty Field Hockey (@LibertyFH) April 21, 2021
We featured a program-record 6? All-@BIGEAST recipients. Additionally, we had a conference-best 5? All-@BIGEAST first team honorees. Here they are???? ??: https://t.co/6h2gjKJ0ih#CloseTheGap #RiseWithUs #BIGEASTfh pic.twitter.com/mkJ1HcKmxT
https://t.co/FHVigwSuHm pic.twitter.com/LDCUbyNplU — Liberty Field Hockey (@LibertyFH) April 21, 2021
In addition to earning All-@BIGEAST first team team honors, goalkeeper Azul Iritxity Irigoyen is the @BIGEAST Defensive Player of the Year and @BIGEAST Co-Freshman of the Year!!! Congrats Azul!!!?? pic.twitter.com/invceJfAj7 — Liberty Field Hockey (@LibertyFH) April 21, 2021
In addition to earning All-@BIGEAST first team team honors, goalkeeper Azul Iritxity Irigoyen is the @BIGEAST Defensive Player of the Year and @BIGEAST Co-Freshman of the Year!!! Congrats Azul!!!?? pic.twitter.com/invceJfAj7
Congrats to our incredible coaching staff!?? pic.twitter.com/J6vWo4q5TO — Liberty Field Hockey (@LibertyFH) April 21, 2021
Congrats to our incredible coaching staff!?? pic.twitter.com/J6vWo4q5TO
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