AZUSA, Calif. -- Senior forward Shannon Coe was named Golden State Athletic Conference Player of the Year and Jason Surrell was tabbed as GSAC Coach of the Year, the conference announced today.
Additionally, 5 other members of the NAIA’s No. 1-ranked Azusa Pacific were named to the All-GSAC team in addition to Coe, including senior Megan Cardin, sophomore Jill Colfer, junior Julie Fletcher, sophomore Randie Massro and junior Jolie Nitta.
Coe finished the regular season third in the GSAC with 37 points (15 goals and 7 assists) in leading Azusa Pacific to an unbeaten 14-0-3 regular season record. She becomes the fifth Cougar in school history to win the award.
Coe did not come to Azusa Pacific has a high scoring forward but as a defender. Surrell moved her up top where she has emerged as one of the top scoring threats in the country. This season Coe was named twice was named GSAC Player of the Week and Region II Player of the Week.
She was also the NAIA Player of the Week (Sept. 28) for her play as the Cougars defeated 2 NAIA Top-5 ranked teams at the Kelme Classic hosted by Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) in Columbia, Kentucky. Coe helped Azusa Pacific end No. 1-ranked Lindsey Wilson’s 35-game home unbeaten streak with a goal and an assist in a 2-1 win. The following day she had a goal and an assist as the Cougars defeated No. 4-ranked Lee, 4-1.
“If you look at the beginning of the year she scored a lot of key goals for us so come conference time she was no surprise and other teams could key in on her. She has continued to produce with that label as the player to stop on Azusa Pacific,” said Surrell. “She has done really well for us and keeps getting better. She isn’t a natural forward so putting up front was a little bit of work but she has done really well with it.”
The Cougars outstanding defense and midfield was well represented in the All-GSAC picks. Cardin and Fletcher were mainstays of a Cougar defense that allowed only 6 goals, the fewest number in the conference. Cardin also scored 4 goals including the game-winner as the Cougars clinched the GSAC title, 1-0, over Concordia. “Megan has taken big leaps each year she has been here,” said Surrell. “In my opinion she has All-American status now and she has meant everything to us from not just a playing standpoint but a leadership standpoint as well.”
Fletcher was forced to spend some time in the back last season due to injuries after having played most of the year at forward. That transition was implemented full time in 2005. “She has just been so solid. I think her game has risen this year and she’s been healthy and just gotten better as time has gone on. It may not be her natural position but she has learned it so well that now I would say it is,” he said.
Colfer has been outstanding between the pipes for the Cougars all season long as evidenced by her 0.33 goals against average which led the GSAC. She recorded 11 shutouts during the regular season and has currently not allowed a goal since Oct. 11 against Hope International, a string of 575 scoreless minutes.
“By the time things are all said and done here she is going to be one of the top keepers ever to play here and I think she is there now,” Surrell said. “There are some great keepers in our conference and she is up there with any of them. She has been huge for us all year.”
The Cougars dynamic midfield combination of Massro and Nitta both earned a spot on the team. Massro tallied 7 points (3 goals and 1 assist) during the regular season. “Randie’s presence and the balls she is able to win on her head and the strength she brings to the middle of the field for us allows her to dominate games,” Surrell added. “She’s had a great season for us.”
Nitta also had 7 points with 2 goals and 3 assists. “Jolie is so technical with the ball and dangerous that people just don’t know how to defend her. She’s been a great offensive threat for us and she plays well defensively,” said her head coach.
For Surrell it is the fourth time in his 6 years at the helm that he has been tabbed conference coach of the year. “He is so consistent with his coaching style,” said Coe. “He has helped me make my move to forward by always been encouraging after every practice and every game to keep working on the things he has been teaching me.”
The Cougars open the Region II playoffs with a rematch against Concordia. Azusa Pacific is the No. 1 seed in the regionals and will host the contest at the Azusa Square beginning at 1 p.m.