skip to Main Content
Ria Acton
Ria Acton, the SAC Defensive Player of the Year, had two goals for the Bears and converted in the penalty kick finale.
photo courtesy of Lenoir-Rhyne Athletics

Lenoir-Rhyne Women’s Soccer Racks in Conference Awards, Team Honors

A trio of Bears landed major awards this morning as the South Atlantic Conference announced the 2023 SAC Women’s Soccer All-Conference teams and awards. Ria Acton was named Defensive Player of the Year, while Elin Hansson won Offensive Player of the Year for the second straight season and Dean Ward also won his second straight Coach of the Year award. The Bears also had a record nine players selected to the all-SAC teams this morning, breaking the record of eight which happened in both 2011 and 2012.

Acton becomes the program’s first-ever SAC Defensive Player of the Year as Acton was a key part of the Bears only allowing seven goals during the regular season. Acton added three goals and a SAC-leading 12 assists as well this season. She helped the Bears to 11 clean sheets, one shy of tying the program record.

Hansson becomes the second Bear to repeat as Offensive Player of the Year as she joins Catherine Hauck with that honor. Hauck won SAC Player of the Year in the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Hansson followed up her freshman campaign with 14 goals and eight assists in her second season in Hickory and now has 24 goals and 61 career points in 33 career matches.

Ward, in his second year at the helm, won his second straight SAC Coach of the Year honor as he led the Bears to their second straight regular season SAC title. The Bears are 20-0-2 in his two seasons in South Atlantic Conference contests. The Bears are heading into the SAC semifinals on Friday with a 14-0-3 record this season and ranked No. 6 in the nation.

Joining Hansson and Acton on the SAC First-Team were Neve Duston, Ella Garner and Evan O’Leary. Duston had seven goals this season, while O’Leary added six goals. Garner, a freshman, was an anchor in the Bears back line and added a goal of her own this season.

Midfielder Carola Busquets and defender Louise Berg garnered second team honors, while midfielder Emerson Talley and goalkeeper Kristin Oliver earned third team selections to give the Bears a record nine players selected All-SAC. The Bears have had 148 players selected to the All-SAC Team in their 34 years, including 70 first team selections.

In addition, the Bears won the Fair Play Award which is given to the team with the lowest accumulation of yellow and red cards during the conference season.

The Bears are back in action on Friday at 11:00 AM in the SAC Semifinals as the Bears will take on Carson-Newman with the winner advancing to the SAC Championship game on Sunday.