Women’s Soccer: Napoli to be honored Saturday

By Nate Owen

After blazing her way through the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) this past fall and leading the sixth-seeded women’s soccer team to both a conference championship and NCAA tournament berth, freshman forward Veronica Napoli is headed to St. Louis this weekend to be honored as an All-American.

‘I’m very excited. I never expected this,’ Napoli said.

Napoli was named a third-team All-American last month by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA). She is the first Northeastern women’s soccer player selected as an All-American.

Being named to the squad caps a season full of accolades for Napoli, who led the Huskies and was fifth in the CAA with 29 points on 12 goals and five assists. She was also honored as CAA Rookie of the Year, and earned herself a spot on the All-CAA third team, All-Rookie team and NSCAA/adidas All-Northeast team.

‘I think it’s a tremendous honor for our program. I’m proud to take her out there,’ said head coach Ed Matz.

The All-American ceremony is a part of the 2009 NSCAA Convention, which started yesterday and runs until Sunday. Napoli will be honored on Saturday. The convention will welcome 5,000 coaches from all levels of soccer and will feature the Major League Soccer Draft and the inaugural draft of the Women’s Professional Soccer League.

Napoli’s trip to St. Louis came with an assist from Northeastern’s online fan forum, Diehard Dogs, who helped fund her trip by donating money to defray travel costs.

‘I have to thank Diehard Dogs,’ Matz said. ‘ I know some students made it possible. I really have to thank them. They did this for a student-athlete, not a women’s soccer player.’

Matz said that while Napoli would have gone regardless, the money raised by the Diehards helped conserve his program’s limited financial resources.

‘I appreciate that so much,’ Napoli said of the fan’s fundraising. ‘I didn’t think anyone would do that. I hope they know how much I appreciate it,’ she said.

Napoli is one of four CAA players to be honored as an All-American. The others are William & Mary forward Claire Zimmeck (second team) and James Madison forward Christina Julien (third team). Zimmeck’s teammate, midfielder Danielle Collins, will join Napoli and Julien on the third team as well.

‘It definitely helps us out,’ Matz said of Napoli’s selection. ‘ It’s an award that’s nationally recognized, an award that everyone sees. It’s a tremendous accomplishment.’

The girl’s high school All-American team has a Husky connection as well.

Devin Petta, a senior at Whitman-Hanson Regional High School in Whitman, is a member of the high school All-American team.

The captain posted 39 goals and 14 assists in her final season, running her career totals to a school-record 103 goals and 64 assists. She was the Boston Globe’s Division I women’s soccer player of the year, and will play for the Huskies next fall, according to the Globe.

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