From L-R: Vermont's Sydney Mas, Albany's Nikki Branchini, Boston U's Danielle Etrasco, Albany's John Battaglino
From L-R: Vermont's Sydney Mas, Albany's Nikki Branchini, Boston U's Danielle Etrasco, Albany's John Battaglino
Courtesy: America East Communications

Albany's Branchini, Boston's Etrasco Share Player of the Year Honors

Release: 05/04/2011
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - University at Albany senior defensive midfielder Nikki Branchini (Guilderland, N.Y./Guilderland) and Boston University sophomore attacker Danielle Etrasco (Massapequa, N.Y./Massapequa) took home America East Women’s Lacrosse Co-Player of the Year honors on Wednesday afternoon. Branchini repeats after also winning the award in 2010. The other conference individual trophy recipients, revealed on the eve of the 2011 America East Championship, include University of Vermont freshman attacker Sydney Mas (Bedford, N.Y./St. George’s School (RI)), the 2011 Rookie of the Year, and Great Danes Head Coach John Battaglino, the Coach of the Year.

Branchini is just the third America East player to earn the Player of the Year distinction multiple times. She joins former Boston U. standouts Sarah Dalton (2008-09) and Chrissy Lombard (1999-01) in elite company.

Branchini has followed up her all-American junior year with another spectacular all-around campaign in 2011. She leads the league for the second-straight year with 4.93 draw controls per game, ranking third in the country with that statistic. The senior tops the Great Danes with 30 ground balls and 18 caused turnovers on the defensive end. A midfielder who plays in both the defensive and offensive zones, Branchini has scored a career-high 20 goals to go along with three helpers for 23 points so far this season. She received conference Defensive Player of the Week honors three times and Player of the Week once.

Just a sophomore, Etrasco is a threat on the offensive end of the field and on draws. She has found the back of the net 53 times over the course of the season, including a league-best 26 tallies against America East opponents. Etrasco has compiled 61 points and 40 draw controls, good for third and fourth, respectively, in the conference. She ranks 12th in the nation in goals and 49th with 2.5 draw controls per game. Etrasco garnered three America East Player of the Week honors, including the final week of the season after tying the conference’s single-game scoring record with nine goals on April 30.

Mas completed one of the most outstanding freshman seasons in conference history. The rookie from Vermont notched 55 goals during the regular season, leading the conference and ranking eighth in Division I in that category. Mas also broke the America East single-season record for goals by a freshman, surpassing the 54 goals scored by former Terrier Jenny Hauser in 2005. Her 3.94 points per game rank 23rd in the country and her 3.38 draw controls per game sits 17th among all Division I players. Mas earned Rookie of the Week honors five times this season. Mas is the third Catamount in four years to take home the league’s annual award honoring the top rookie.

Battaglino is in his first season as head coach of the Great Danes and has led his Albany squad to its second-straight America East regular-season championship. Albany stands at 15-0 on the season and is the last undefeated team remaining in Division I. The Great Danes have climbed from outside the national polls to start the season into the top-10 in both of the latest media and coaches’ polls, a first for the program. After leading the country in offense a year ago, Battaglino’s team has been especially impressive on defense in 2011, ranked second in the country allowing 6.87 goals per game and ranked fourth with a +6.8 scoring margin. The coach will direct Albany into the upcoming conference tournament as the top seed looking for its first title.

The attackers joining Etrasco and Mas on the all-conference first team are Albany seniors Taylor Frink (Baldwinsville, N.Y./C.W. Baker) and Jodi Battaglia (Amherst, N.Y./Amherst Central), University of New Hampshire junior Hayley Rausch (Serverna Park, Md./Severna Park). The first-team midfielders are Albany freshman Ariana Parker (Port Ewen, N.Y./Kingston), Boston U. senior Rachel Collins (Winchester, Mass./Winchester), UMBC junior Alicia Krause (Ellicott City, Md./Mount Hebron) and New Hampshire junior Ilana Cohen (Andover, Mass./Andover). Branchini is a unanimous pick on the first-team defensive unit, alongside freshman teammate Michelle Primomo (Delmar, N.Y./Bethlehem Central), Boston U. senior Corcoran Downey (Ellicott City, MD./Centennial) and UMBC sophomore Jamie Fahey (Baldwin, Md./Loch Raven). Stony Brook senior Mickey Cahill (Bayshore, N.Y./Bayshore) is the first-team goalkeeper.

Binghamton University senior Ali Castiglie (Middle Island, N.Y./Longwood), Boston U. junior Hannah Frey (Pearl River, N.Y./Nanuet) and UMBC senior Erika Braerman (Fallston, Md./Fallston) are the second-team attackers. Binghamton senior Beth Moore (Hauppauge, N.Y./Hauppauge), UMBC junior Amanda Pappas (Pasadena, Md./Chesapeake), Stony Brook senior Victoria Cable (Oakton, Va./Oakton) and Vermont senior Megan MacDonald (Wayland, Mass./Wayland) comprise the second-team midfielders, while Binghamton junior Lauren Lukefahr (Corning, N.Y./Corning East), UMBC senior C.J. Durham (Pasadena, Md./Chesapeake), New Hampshire sophomore Ally Stager (Reading, Mass./Reading) and Vermont junior Caitie Izzo (Longmeadow, Mass./Longmeadow) are the defensive players named to the second team. The second-team goalkeeper is New Hampshire sophomore Kathleen O’Keefe (Chatham, N.J./Chatham).

In addition to all-conference recognition, Parker, Primomo and Mas also earned all-rookie status. Joining them on the all-rookie team are Albany’s Anna Berman (Garnerville, N.Y./North Rockland) and Allie Phelan (Clarksville, N.Y./Bethlehem Central), Boston U. teammates Sydney Godett (Boxford, Mass./Masconomet Regional) and Christina Sheridan (Ellicott City, Md./Our Lady of Good Counsel), UMBC’s Kristen Bilney (Ellicott City, Md./Mt. Hebron), New Hampshire’s Cara Dowdle (Northbrook, Ill./Loyola Academy) and Cori Rees (East Hampstead, N.H./Pinkerton Academy), and Stony Brook’s Alyssa Cardillo (Farmingdale, N.Y./Farmingdale) and Tara Gerstacker (Manorville, N.Y./Eastport South Manor).