Tuesday, June 7, 2011

FOV Cavalier of the Year 2011; #1/#2

From Old Virginia celebrates its birthday in a unique way: by recognizing one of Virginia's student-athletes as the Cavalier of the Year. What are the criteria for the award? You decide; that's the beauty. I nominate the 12 athletes that I think have been the most outstanding during the latest season of UVA athletics, and provide a short summary of their accomplishments. You choose the winner in a poll that goes up after all 12 have had their moment in the spotlight.

Over the next two weeks, two athletes at a time will be profiled, and you'll hear about what they've accomplished while representing Mr. Jefferson's University this year. The athletes are presented in a totally random order so as to hopefully not imply any endorsement one way or another. Athletes from all fields are considered; part of the point is to emphasize that UVA is about excellence across the entire department and doesn't shortchange its so-called non-revenue sports simply because they don't make headlines. The previous winners are Danny Hultzen (2009) and Diego Restrepo (2010); today's athlete's are Brian Ownby and Paige Selenski.

Brian Ownby - Men's soccer - Forward

Team accomplishments:

- ACC tournament semifinals
- 30th consecutive NCAA selection

Personal accomplishments:

- First-team all-ACC
- VaSID second-team all-state
- Second on the team with seven goals

The soccer season ended on a disappointing note for the Hoos; if we hadn't all been busy complaining about the football team we might've had a few words about that too.  Even so, individual accolades shone a little brighter than they had the previous year when the Hoos won the national championship.  Brian Span opened some eyes as UVA's top freshman, but perhaps the most surprising thing I learned in choosing the 12 nominees was that no UVA men's soccer player had made first-team all-ACC since 2007 and Yannick Reyering.  Somehow it escaped my notice that we won a national championship without a single player that the ACC voters saw fit to include as one of the best in the league.

But I digress.  Brian Ownby breaks the streak, and in fine fashion.  Ownby hasn't been the highest scorer on the team, but his various selections to all-something teams, as well as last year's USMNT U-20 team (which he'll be ineligible for going forward), give him his fair share of recognition as perhaps the most talented player on the team.  He's also got a knack for timely goals; hard to forget his golden goal against Wake Forest in the 2009 run, and this season he scored game-tying goals against Boston College (a game which finished tied 1-1 like Ownby left it) and a 76th-minute game-tyer against Virginia Tech, which UVA would win in overtime.

Ownby was a little bit overshadowed last year (OK, a lot overshadowed and rightly so given the exploits of Restrepo) having missed a lot of time with a groin injury.  This, his junior year, was really his first playing full time for the UVA team, and responding with an all-ACC selection is an impressive feat.

Paige Selenski - Field hockey - Midfielder

Team accomplishments:

- 18-4 record
- NCAA tournament 3rd seed
- NCAA tournament semifinals

Personal accomplishments:

- Scored 27 of team's 68 total goals
- One-time national and ACC Player of the Week
- Selected to US National Team
- VaSID Player of the Year in Virginia
- NCAA all-tournament team
- NFHCA first team all-American
- Honda Award semifinalist
- Female Collegiate Athlete of the Year in the state of Virginia
- Third selection as all-ACC
- All-South Region first team

This is one of the reasons I do this here award thing.  One of the most dominant athletes in a Virginia uniform is someone a lot of people have barely heard of.  Fortunately, the people who follow field hockey know exactly who she is, because if there's a team you can be named to or an award to be handed out, Paige Selenski is on the short list.  You can count on one hand the number of UVA athletes that have that kind of list of acknowledgements and recognitions, and you probably won't need all your fingers.  Selenski is one of only three athletes to be back for a third nomination for FOV COY and each year it's been nigh automatic.  One of the easiest selections I've made.  Selenski is only a junior; with Michael Shabaz graduating and Danny Hultzen not being clinically insane, and not bloody likely to turn down #2-pick money, Selenski could be the first four-time nominee for this award.

Selenski repeated her 27-goal performance from last year, and this year it was good for third in the country.  She went scoreless in just five of UVA's 22 games this year, and keep you in mind, there's only one sport around with less scoring and that's soccer.  Selenski was one of nine players in the country to average more than a goal per game, and as usual she's a big-gamer with eight game-winners, tied for the ACC lead.  And as with last year, she led the team to the NCAA semifinals - UVA is one of the top field hockey teams in the country but unfortunately all the better ones are also in the ACC, and it's been a tough climb over the last hurdle.  Maybe next year; Paige Selenski will still be there.

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