CLEVELAND - The Mid-American Conference announced its 2012 Field Hockey Awards on Thursday. For Miami it was a clean sweep of the major awards as senior Olivia Miller (Prospect, Ky.) was named the MAC Player of the Year, freshman Bea Dechant (Mannheim, Germany) was named MAC Freshman of the Year and head coach Iñako Puzo was named the MAC Coach of the Year.
Miami players were also well represented on the All-MAC teams. Joining Miller and Dechant on the All-MAC First-Team was junior goalkeeper Sarah Mueller (Berlin, Germany). Junior Emily Gruesser (Cincinnati, Ohio) and sophomore Valentina Neira (Mendoza, Argentina) were each named to the All-MAC Second Team.
Miller led Miami with eight goals on the season. She also had two assists for 18 points in 2012. While she only had those two assists, she was in charge of the offense throughout the season and had a hand in creating nearly every scoring play the RedHawks had when she was on the field. She was named MAC Offensive Player of the Week on Sept. 25. Miller is only the second player in school history to win MAC Player of the Year honors. The other was Kerri Orr, who shared the award in 2004.
Dechant had seven goals and six assists for a team-leading 20 points in 19 games as a freshman. She recorded the game-winning goal in two games and had a season-high two goals in a 3-2 victory vs. Saint Francis (Pa.) on Sept. 24. Dechant is the third player in school history to win MAC Freshman of the Year honors. The two previous winners were Jill Lepping in 1992 and Amanda Sokolow in 1995.
Puzo led the RedHawks to a MAC Championship a year after the team finished in fifth place. The RedHawks were 7-15 in 2011 and have improved to 10-9 this season. Of their nine losses, seven were against teams that were ranked in the top 25 at some point this season. Puzo is the second coach in school history to win MAC Coach of the Year. The other winner was Jill Reeve in 2010.
Mueller was 7-8 this season with a 2.15 goals against average. Her .773 saves percentage ranks 14th in the nation. She had previously earned Second-Team honors as a freshman in 2010. Mueller was named MAC Defensive Player of the Week three times this season.
Gruesser finished the regular season with seven goals and four assists for 18 points. Her season-high of two goals came in a 6-4 win over Longwood on Sept. 8. That coupled with a goal the next day in a 2-1 win over No. 23 Ohio State earned her MAC Offensive Player of the Week on Sept. 11. This is the third straight season Gruesser has been named to the All-MAC Second-Team.
Neira made an immediate impact during her first season as a RedHawk in 2012 with seven goals and five assists for 19 points. She scored two goals, including the game-winner, in the 4-1 victory over Kent State on Oct. 6 that helped secure the top seed for Miami in the MAC Tournament. She also had a career-high four assists in a 9-1 win over Appalachian State on Oct. 12.
The top seed Miami RedHawks will begin their quest for a MAC Tournament title on their home turf on Friday when they take on No. 4 seed Ohio at noon. The No. 2 seed Kent State Golden Flashes will then face No. 3 seed Central Michigan at 2:30 p.m. in the other semifinal. The winners will meet for the MAC Championship on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Player of the Year
Olivia Miller, Miami, Sr., Midfielder
Freshman of the Year
Bea Dechant, Miami, Midfielder
Coach of the Year
Inako Puzo, Miami
Skylar Vanatta, Central Michigan, Jr., Back
Simone Lazar, Central Michigan, Jr., Back
Julia Hoffman, Kent State, So., Midfielder
Rebecca Lee, Kent State, Jr., Forward
Bea Dechant, Miami, Fr., Midfielder
Olivia Miller, Miami, Sr., Midfielder
Sarah Mueller, Miami, Jr., Goalkeeper
Reiann Stoute, Missouri State, Sr., Defender
Hillary Lawless, Missouri State, Jr., Forward
Taylor Brown, Ohio, Sr., Forward
Cathryn Altdoerffer, Ohio, Sr., Midfielder
Tori Widrick, Ball State, So. Midfielder
Erin Dye, Central Michigan, Sr., Midfielder
Anastasia Netto, Central Michigan, Sr., Goalkeeper
Jordyn Brengosz, Central Michigan, So., Back
Hannah Faulkner, Kent State, So., Forward
Valentina Neira, Miami, So., Forward
Emily Gruesser, Miami, Jr., Forward
Holly Scherer, Missouri State, Fr., Forward
Marissa Higgins, Ohio, Sr., Midfielder
Jessica Jue, Ohio, Jr., Midfielder/Back
Laura Mastro, Ohio, Sr., Midfielder