Furtuna Velaj Named Women's Soccer Player Of The Year At Annual Banquet

HAMDEN, Conn. - Sophomore forward Furtuna Velaj (Stamford, Conn.) was named the Quinnipiac University Women's Soccer Player of the Year at the team's annual banquet held last Friday. Senior defender Hanne Walleck (South Glastonbury, Conn.) earned the Player's Player of the Year Award while freshman Jillian Strassner (Avon, Conn.) was named the Young Player of the Year. Also honored was sophomore Chelsea Smith (Terryville, Conn.) who earned the team's Academic Player of the Year award on the evening.

In her sophomore season for the Bobcats, Velaj continued her offensive prowess as one of the top goal-scorers in the Northeast Conference. The forward led the team in all offensive categories, finishing the year with 11 goals and eight assists, good for a total of 30 points. In the Northeast Conference, Velaj ranked amongst the top three players in all scoring categories, finishing first in goals per game (0.69) and points per game (1.88) in the league. For her efforts in 2009, Velaj was named First Team All-Conference as well as earning a spot on the NEWISA All-New England Second Team and the NSCAA All-Northeast Region Third Team.

Walleck is this year's recipient of the Player's Player of the Year award, recognized for her strong presence on the Bobcats' back line this season. The senior was the only member of the team to start all 17 games in 2009, anchoring the Bobcats defensive efforts on the year. Walleck was also recognized by multiple outlets in the postseason as she was named to the All-Conference Second Team, the NEWISA All-New England Second, and was asked to play in the NEWISA Senior Bowl on Dec. 6. Walleck finished her career playing in 61 games for Quinnipiac and tallying three goals and two assists for a total of eight points.

Ranking second on the team in all offensive categories, freshman midfielder Strassner earns the Young Player of the Year award. Strassner posted four goals and three assists on the year, good for a total of 11 points. Her efforts on the field led the way for freshman in the conference as she was named the NEC Rookie of the Year. It was just the third time in program history that a Bobcat has earned the honor. The highlight of Strassner's freshman season came in mid-October when she tallied six points in the weekend series against Long Island and Wagner, a performance that earned her NEC Rookie of the Week honors.

Smith earns the team's academic award, as she has posted a solid GPA for the past two years in Quinnipiac's Nursing program. Her hard work in the classroom placed her on the NEC Fall Academic Honor Roll along with sixty other fall athletes from Quinnipiac this season. She also helped the women's soccer team earn national recognition from the NSCAA for the team's academic achievements in 2008 when they posted a cumulative team GPA of 3.26. Smith also saw strong performances on the field for the Bobcats this season, playing in 16 games and posting ten shots on goal.

The Bobcats also recognized their seven graduating seniors at the banquet in Kara Barrepski (Ellington, Conn.), Susan Donovan (Cork, Ireland), Olivia Kravitz (Canton, Conn.), Justine Lombardi (Enfield, Conn.), Lindsay Oliveri (Waltham, Mass.), Amber Sidoti (Farmington, Conn.) and Walleck. The group of seniors combined to play in over 370 games and have tallied 27 goals and 30 assists over their four years at Quinnipiac for a total of 84 points.

WQAQ announcer and voice of the Bobcats, Bill Schweizer, served as the emcee of the event, while Quinnipiac Director of Athletics and Recreation Jack McDonald gave the opening statement.