Rios, Caico Named Athletes of the Year, Others as MVP at Annual Ceremony

Chris DiGeronimo, Sports Editor

The University of New Haven Department of Athletics held its annual Athletics and Senior Awards Banquet on Sunday, April 29 at Anthony’s Ocean View, where over 250 people gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of New Haven’s student-athletes during the 2017-18 academic year. The event was presented by the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and hosted by SAAC’s Executive Board.

Athletics announced the 2017-18 season MVP’s honoring the best players from each of their 17 sports. Senior Joe Caico was named baseball MVP as he is currently hitting a .385 average, third in the NE-10. Caico was also named Male Athlete of the Year.

Senior Danny Upchurch was named men’s basketball MVP. Upchurch finished the 2017-18 season averaging 18.8 points and 6.6 assists per game, which was sixth and third in the NE-10 respectively. Upchurch also was named to the NE-10 All-Conference First Team, Division II Conference Commissioners Association All-East Region Second Team, All-ECAC First Team, and to the NABC Division II All-District Team.

Junior Alexandria Kerr was named women’s basketball MVP. Kerr finished the year averaging a team high 16.5 points per game which was fourth in the NE-10. Kerr was also named to the NE-10 All Conference Second Team and reached both the 1,000-career point milestone.

The men’s and women’s cross-country team MVP’s were sophomore Brandon Turbush and junior Nicole Maliborska. Turbush led the team in every race, including a sixth-place finish at the Ted Owen Invitational with a time of 29:37.8. Turbush also ran his personal best in the 5K and 8K and was named NE-10 Athlete of the Week (10/17).

Maliborska led the Chargers in all six races this season, including four top-five finishes. She became the first NE-10 First Team All-Conference honoree in program history. She ran a personal-record time 22:15.02 in the 6K race at the NE-10 Championships which helped her secure fifth place out of 141 runners.

Senior Ajee Patterson was named football MVP. Patterson threw for 2,611 yards with a 60 percent completion percentage. Patterson threw a touchdown in all but two games for the Chargers. Freshman Natalie Shaker was named field hockey MVP. Shaker is the first MVP in program history as the 2017-18 academic year was their inaugural season. Shaker finished the season with an 18.31 save percentage and also ranked sixth in the NE-10 for total saves with 237.

Senior Jessica Mazliah was named women’s lacrosse MVP. Mazliah is currently second on the team with 80 points this season with 40 goals and 40 assists. She also notched her 200th career point and her 100th career-goal. Sophomore Pablo Perez and senior Alex Morgan were names men’s and women’s soccer MVPs. Perez netted three goals and notched two assists for the Chargers. Morgan ended the season fourth on the team with five points behind two goals and one assist.

Senior Kristine Liptack was named softball MVP. Liptack is currently third on the team with a .300 batting average. She has career highs with 36 hits, seven doubles, 24 RBI, and two home runs. Freshman Stephanie Gonzalez was named women’s tennis MVP. Gonzalez posted a 12-7 record in both singles and doubles play and was named the NE-10 Rookie of the Year, the first in program history.

The men’s and women’s track and field MVP’S were junior Michael Kandolin and senior Riley Knebes. Kandolin was an USTFCCCA All- East Region selection and a NE-10 Academic All-Conference honoree. Knebes broke the school record in the indoor 600- meter run, and also broke the school record to become the 500- meter New England Champion. She qualified for the NCAA Division II Track and Field Championships and entered as the 15th seed. She also became a NE-10 Champion in the 400-meter dash.

Junior Kristine Rios was named volleyball MVP along with Female Athlete of the Year. Rios was named the NE-10 Setter of the Year, she was also named to the league’s  first team, NCAA All-Tournament Team AVCA and D2CCA All-East Region squads after helping the Chargers to one of the most historic seasons in program history. Freshman Kali Greathead and Derrick Rowland were named male and female Rookie of the Year.

Charger fans await the end of the baseball, softball, lacrosse and outdoor track and field seasons. All other sports will return in the fall.