Brenden Valverde capped off a big freshman season with the Penn State Berks men’s soccer team by being named the North Eastern Athletic Conference Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year.
The 5-foot-10, 190-pound forward from Birdsboro (Daniel Boone) led the Nittany Lions and the NEAC in goals with 22 and points with 50. Both are school records and both rank second in NCAA Division III.
Valverde had four multi-goal games, including four goals and an assist in a 5-3 victory over John Jay on Sept. 9 and four goals and two assists in a 15-0 triumph over St. Elizabeth on Sept. 23. He was named the league’s Offensive Player of the Week four times. He’s the first Nittany Lion men’s soccer player to earn Player of the Year honors and just the second in program history to earn Rookie of the Year honors.
“Brenden was everything that we hoped he could be and more,” coach Adrian Monteanu said. “He is a competitor and it shows out on the field. He’s a battler and his hard work paid off.”
Berks finished 9-9-1 overall and 7-2-1 in league play but saw the season end with a 4-1 setback to Lancaster Bible in the NEAC quarterfinals on Oct. 31 in Reading.
Mackenzie Anton (Exeter) >> The 5-foot-5 freshman defender played in 17 games with 13 starts for the Lehigh women’s soccer team which finished the season with a 9-5-4 overall record that included a 5-2-2 mark in the Patriot League. The Mountain Hawks season came to an end with a 1-0 overtime loss to Colgate in the Patriot quarterfinals on Oct. 31 in Hamilton, N.Y. Anton was part of a defense that limited foes to just 12 goals (0.62 goals against average) with nine shutouts.
Rae Santora (Daniel Boone) >> The senior wrapped up her cross country career with the Rider women’s team by finishing 161st out of 193 runners at the Division I Mid-Atlantic Regionals on Nov. 10 in Bethlehem. Her 6,000 meter time was 23:20. That bettered her time when she finished 89th out of 143 entrants at the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championships on Oct. 28 in Holmdel, N.J. In between races, Santora, a biology major, was named to the MAAC All-Academic team.
Jared Luckanitz (Governor Mifflin) >> The redshirt sophomore was the fourth-best finisher for the Kutztown men’s cross country team in both the Division II Atlantic Regionals and the PSAC Championships. Luckanitz finished 70th out of 129 runners at the Regionals on Nov. 4 in Lock Haven with a 10,000 meter time of 33:48.8, the Golden Bears finishing 12th. It was the first 10k race of the season. He was 52nd out of 146 entrants at the PSAC meet on Oct. 21 in California with an 8,000 meter time of 29:08.6.
Rachel Eidson (Daniel Boone) >> The sophomore was the third best finisher for the East Stroudsburg women’s cross country team at the Division II Atlantic Regionals on Nov. 4 in Lock Haven. She finished 46th out of 151 runners with a season-best 6,000 meter time of 22:47.80. The Warriors finished eighth out of 22 teams. Eidson improved her time by over two minutes from her effort in the PSAC Championships Oct. 21 in California when she was 52nd out of 172 runners with a time of 25:18.90.
Meg Donahue (Berks Catholic) >> The senior had the game-winning goal to give No. 1 seed Monmouth a 2-0 victory over No. 4 Rider in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament semifinals on Nov. 3, but the 15-4 Hawks saw the season end with a 2-1 loss to No. 3 Fairfield on Nov. 5, both games in West Long Branch, N.J. Donahue started all 19 games and had eight goals and six assists for 22 points. She played in 78 games with 75 starts in her career and had 31 goals and 24 assists for 86 points with seven game-winners.
Katrina Balatgek (Berks Catholic) >> The 5-foot-5 senior forward started all 19 games for the Richmond field hockey team, the Spiders finishing 8-11 after dropping a 7-2 decision to top seed and 17th-ranked St. Joseph’s in the Atlantic-10 semifinals on Nov. 3 in Amherst, Mass. Balatgek had six goals and two assists for 14 points with a game-winner in a 4-2 non-league victory over Lafayette on Oct. 15. She played in 80 career games with 47 starts and had 16 goals and eight assists for 40 points with three game-winners.
Erin Reitmeyer (Boyertown) >> The freshman played in all 18 games with 10 starts for the Gwynedd Mercy women’s soccer team, the Griffins finishing 11-6-1 overall, including an 8-2-1 regular-season record in the Colonial States Athletic Conference. Reitmeyer had six goals and three assists for 15 points with a game-winner. She had two goals and an assist in a 5-0 victory over Notre Dame (Md.) on Oct. 10 and the game-winner in a 3-0 triumph over Cedar Crest on Oct. 14. The season ended with a 4-2 loss to No. 1 seed Marywood in the league semifinals on Nov. 1.
Courtney Black (Boyertown) >> The senior played in all 18 games with 16 starts for the Clarkson women’s soccer team, the Golden Knights finishing 8-7-3 overall and 4-4-1 in the Liberty League and saw the season end with a 1-0 loss to Rochester Tech in the first round of the league playoffs on Oct. 31 in Rochester, N.Y. Black had two goals and an assist and had the tying goal in a 2-2 double overtime non-league draw with Potsdam on Sept. 2 and the game-winner at the 1:04.42 mark in a 2-1 double overtime league victory over St. Lawrence on Oct. 24.
Kyle Hartman (Kutztown) >> The 5-foot-10, 165-pound defender played in all 18 games with four starts for the Lock Haven men’s soccer team which gave up 33 goals (1.74 goals against average) with four shutouts during the season. The Bald Eagles, led by freshman Beckham Sibiski (Kutztown), finished 6-8-4 overall and 3-6-2 in PSAC play after a 1-1 two overtime tie with California in a league game on Oct. 28 in Lock Haven. Sibiski finished with six goals and two assists for a team-high 14 points.
Jonathan Blaine (Kutztown) >> The freshman defender saw action in eight games with three starts for a Lehigh men’s soccer team that had 12 seniors and juniors on the squad. Blaine played all 110 minutes in a 4-4 Patriot League tie with Colgate on Oct. 4 in Hamilton, N.Y., and the full 90 minutes in a 3-1 triumph non-league victory over Seton Hall on Sept. 19 in Bethlehem. The Mountain Hawks finished with an 11-7-1 record after dropping a 5-0 decision to Holy Cross in the first round of the league tournament on Nov. 7.
Ashley Donat (Kutztown) >> The freshman was named to the North Eastern Athletic Conference second team after a big first year with the Penn College women’s soccer team. Donat led the team and was seventh in the league in scoring with 31 points. She had a team-high 14 goals and a team-high three game-winners for the Wildcats who finished 9-8-5 and was beaten 4-0 by Penn State Berks in the NEAC title game on Nov. 5 in Reading after recording shootout victories over Keuka and SUNY Poly to reach the finals.
Matt Prince (Hamburg) >> The senior scored his first goal of the season to help the Lebanon Valley team post a 4-2 victory over Widener on Oct. 28 in Chester. The 6-foot, 179-pound midfielder, who has played in 16 games with 10 starts, picked up an assist in a 3-1 victory over Albright on Oct. 7 in Reading. He entered this season having scored 10 goals with five assists in 54 games and 20 starts. The Dutchmen earned a berth in the ECAC Tournament after losing 5-1 to Lycoming in the MAC Commonwealth semifinals on Nov. 1.
Hannah Shirk (Hamburg) >> The sophomore played in all 18 games with three starts for the Kutztown field hockey team, the Golden Bears finishing with an 11-7 record after a 2-1 non-league victory over Limestone on Oct. 28. Shirk picked up an assist in a 3-1 victory over Queens (N.C.) on Sept. 10 and helped the defense limit foes to 21 goals (1.13 goals against average) with five shutouts. She’s a transfer from Slippery Rock where she played in 17 games and had two goals and an assist last season.
Andrea Fink (Hamburg) >> The freshman defender saw action in eight games with four starts for the Malone women’s soccer team. She compiled 368 minutes on the field for the Pioneers who used 39 different players during the season. Fink played the full 90 minutes in two games and 70 minutes in another. Malone finished its season with a 4-9-4 overall record and a 2-8-4 mark in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference and was beaten 2-1 by Walsh in the final game of the season on Oct. 24 in Canton, OH.