MARTIN, Tenn. – Six members of The University of Tennessee at Martin soccer team brought home a total of nine accolades tonight, as the Ohio Valley Conference recognized the league’s best performers at its awards banquet on the eve of the 2012 Soccer Championships held at Skyhawk Field.
Freshman Saphyra Coombs-James earned OVC Freshman of the Year honors to go along with All-OVC first team and All-Newcomer accolades. Ashley Reveiz also claimed All-OVC first team honors and All-Newcomer status, joined by Hannah McGowen and Mariah Klenke on the All-OVC first team and Alyssa Curtis on the league’s second team. In addition, head coach Phil McNamara was named the OVC Coach of the Year by the league’s fellow head coaches and sports information directors.
“We are delighted with our selections for the OVC all-conference teams,” McNamara said. “I think the selections indicate our strong recruiting classes for every area of our team. The selections are very balanced position-wise, which is pleasing and very much deserved. I think our top performers in conference play got awarded tonight.”
Coombs-James has simply been a revelation for the Skyhawks in 2012, earning the program’s first-ever OVC Freshman of the Year award. The 5-10 forward out of Brampton, Ontario accounted for goals in each of her first two matches and hardly let up, piling up 10 goals in 18 matches. She was even better against OVC opposition, tallying seven goals to go along with a pair of assists in 10 matches. On Oct. 14, she became just the seventh player in program history to register at least five points in a match when she netted two goals to go along with an assist against Eastern Kentucky. Overall, she finished the regular season ranking second in the OVC in points (24) and goals (10) and third in game-winning goals (three).
“I most congratulate our Freshman of the Year Saphyra Coombs-James, who has been outstanding this past month,” McNamara said. “Seven goals and two assists in conference play is a fantastic achievement. She is simply getting better and better each game and is a fun player to watch.”
Reveiz helped anchor a ferocious UT Martin defense that ranked amongst the league’s best toward the end of the season. The Skyhawks shut out four of their last five opponents, posting a microscopic 0.20 Goals Against Average during that stretch. The 5-5 Knoxville native played in every minute of every OVC match, logging starts in 16 overall contests. She even pushed up to score a goal on Sept. 9 against Lipscomb on Sept. 9 and tallied an assist against Mississippi Valley State on Aug. 26.
A 5-9 midfielder out of Murfreesboro, McGowen was responsible for 10 points (three goals, four assists) this season for UT Martin. All three of her goals came in back-to-back OVC matches, as she found the back of the net twice (including the game-winner) against Murray State on Sept. 30, then followed that up with a goal at Eastern Illinois on Oct. 5. She was one of the most consistent offensive threats all season, as she ranked sixth in the OVC with 47 shots and led the Skyhawks with 25 shot on goal attempts. She started in 17 out of 19 matches, as her 1,558 minutes played was the second-most on the squad.
Klenke started in all but one match in goal, playing in 90 percent (1594:04) of UT Martin’s minutes on the season. She boasts a .808 save percentage this season, making 80 stops against only 19 goals allowed. The sophomore from Highland, Ill. made six or more saves on six different occasions this year, including a career-best 11 stops in the season opener on Aug. 17 against Vanderbilt. Already the program’s all-time winningest goalkeeper (20 victories), she ranked second in the OVC in GAA (0.60) in OVC matches only, conceding only five goals in over 744 minutes.
Curtis made 14 starts this fall, ringing up 10 points off four goals and a pair of assists. She accounted for points in four OVC matches, including a three-point effort (goal and assist) against Austin Peay on Sept. 28. She also secured the game-winning goal against Morehead State on Oct. 12 and found the back of the net two weeks later at Jacksonville State. Both of her assists (against Austin Peay and Eastern Kentucky) came on the Skyhawks’ game-winning goals in those respective matches.
In his third season at the helm of the Skyhawk soccer program, McNamara willed UT Martin to its first-ever outright OVC regular season championship. The 2012 Skyhawks set a program record with eight league victories (the previous record was six in 2009) and reaped the benefits of a tough nonconference schedule in the earlygoing. After the first six matches of the season, UT Martin gelled as a team thanks in large part to the steadiness of McNamara, who guided the Skyhawks to a 10-1-2 mark from Sept. 9 forward.
UT Martin hosts the OVC Tournament this week at Skyhawk Field. On Thursday, Nov. 1, quarterfinal play begins at 4 p.m. with Southeast Missouri battling Belmont, followed by Eastern Kentucky against Belmont at 7 p.m. The semifinals take place on Friday, Nov. 2, as UT Martin will take on the winner of Southeast Missouri/Belmont at 4 p.m., with Austin Peay taking on the Eastern Kentucky/Belmont winner at 7 p.m. The league championship and automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament will then be decided on Sunday, Nov. 4 at 1 p.m.