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Women’s Soccer: Honors abound for No. 1 Irish

Tim Dougherty | Thursday, November 30, 2006

This week is all business as Notre Dame prepares for the College Cup semifinals. But for defender Ashley Jones, it’s all business all the time.

The junior accounting major was rewarded for her work in the Mendoza College of Business, as she was named to ESPN The Magazine’s first-team Academic All-American squad last week thanks to her 3.96 cumulative GPA.

“Both academics and athletics are equally important to me,” Jones said. “That’s one of the treasons why I chose to go to Notre Dame – because it had such a great balance of having excellence in both areas.”

In addition to starting at right back for the No. 1 Irish, Jones became the seventh Notre Dame women’s soccer player honored with first-team Academic All-American honors. Jones was voted on by College Sports Information Directors of America and was one of only three non-seniors on the 11-member squad.

“She’s just one of those kids I’ve said all along is just a pillar of consistency,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “That’s the way she is in her life away from the soccer field, and I think that’s the way she is on the soccer field as well. Whenever she puts her mind on a task she’s going to get that task done the best that she can.”

Jones, who has earned 17 As and 2 A-minuses in two full years at Notre Dame, has been a critical component of a defense that ranks first in the nation in total goals against (8) and goals against average (.317), helping the Irish maintain their No. 1 ranking from the first weeks of the year. Her value on the Irish backline rose after sophomore Big East defensive player of the year Carrie Dew was lost for the season with an injury in Notre Dame’s final regular season game and senior defender Christie Shaner missed two NCAA Tournament games while battling meningitis. While Jones appreciates the recent honor, she said, her main priority is continuing the help the defense capture Notre Dame’s third national championship.

“Ultimately it’s all about the team,” Jones said. “I think a national championship means a lot more to me than any individual academic or athletic awards. I think that’s something I’ll remember when I’m older and cherish much more in the future.”

Senior midfielder Jen Buczkowski (3.39 GPA in marketing) and Shaner (3.49 GPA in design) received second team All-District V honors. Senior defender Kim Lorenzen and sophomore forward Brittany Bock were also nominated.

Jones isn’t the only Irish player who has a chance to earn hardware this year. While Jones earned top honors in the classroom, sophomore forward Kerri Hanks was named Monday as one of three finalists for the prestigious M.A.C. Hermann Trophy for the nation’s best player. Hanks’ 22 goals and 20 assists lead the nation in both categories.

“I really didn’t expect it just because I’m younger,” Hanks said. “I’m a sophomore, so I didn’t expect it because there’s so many other players out there that are great and can have every opportunity to be one of the finalists as well.”

The Hermann Trophy likely will be announced Thursday night in Cary, N.C., the day before Notre Dame takes on Florida State in the national semifinal match.

“I’m not going to be too focused on it right now because one of my goals and the team goals is to get into the finals,” Hanks said. “It’s an individual award, and it’d be awesome to get an individual award but the team’s more important.”