OXFORD, Ohio – The Pan-American Hockey Federation (PAHF) recently announced its 2013 Elite Teams. Since 2007, Pan American Elite teams have been named every two years to recognize the top 32 players in the Pan American region, with 16 named to each of the men’s and women’s Elite Teams. Miami University freshman goalkeeper Alysa Xavier was selected as one of the two goalkeepers on the squad, which also includes seven-time World Player of the Year Luciana Aymar (ARG), and three other Olympic silver medalists from the Argentina National Team.
“I am very happy for Alysa,” said head coach Iñako Puzo. “She is a very talented player and the award is very well deserved. Alysa is a committed and disciplined athlete who works very hard to be the best athlete and the best person she can be.”
Xavier, a native of Guyana, was the only current NCAA student-athlete to make the team. She is joined on the team by four other women who have played in the United States, including Olympians and former collegiate players of the year Rachel Dawson (UNC) and Katie Reinprecht (Princeton). Both these two and fellow American Kate Sharkey have also won NCAA titles, putting Xavier in elite company. Claudia Schuler from Chile, the other goalkeeper on the 2013 Pan American Elite Team, earned her second such nomination with this announcement. Xavier is the first player from Guyana to be named to a Pan-American Elite Team.
“We are proud and honored to have a member of the Miami University family named to such a selective outstanding group of athletes,” said Puzo. “At Miami we understand the pride and responsibility of our athletes to compete at the highest level to represent their countries. Our community is here to support them and in this case we see how all the efforts have been paid back.”
Xavier redshirted the 2013 season in order to play for Guyana in the recent Pan American Cup. She has represented her native country in numerous international tournaments, helping the Guyanese earn their highest world ranking in the country’s history in 2013.
“It was a team effort--they gave their all and I was not willing to give them less than mine,” commented Xavier about the Pan American Cup. “We may not have been the strongest team, but we sure had the biggest hearts, focused minds and the biggest fight.”
Xavier realizes that earning a spot on this team puts a bigger focus on her going forward, but feels she is ready for it.
"It's amazing, this honor, but it only adds pressure and high expectations,” said Xavier. “I can only promise to play my best and give everything I’ve got. I can't promise that I'll save every ball that comes my way, but I'll sure try. It's wonderful to have been selected for something as big as this; to be a part of a team with some of the highest ranked players in the world whom I would have never thought to walk on the same field with as anything but opposition. This is only the beginning. I'm still got to prove myself."
“This award also represents a responsibility to me and the rest of my staff,” added Puzo. “We have to be sure that Alysa have access to the best coaching opportunities we can offer to a student athlete. We have to be sure that we develop her full potential. I am sure that the Miami community is going to enjoy watching Alysa playing the next few years for the RedHawks.”