Between 2000 and 2011, Wesleyan garnered just four New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Players of the Year honors. The first came in the spring of 2001 when John Landay ’01 led Wesleyan to a 17-3 record in men’s lacrosse and a spot in the ECAC Championship game by leading the nation in scoring with 121 points on 73 goals and 48 assists. The following fall, Alexis Keeler ’02 paced women’s volleyball to a best-ever 30-6 mark and a spot in the NCAA Division III tournament with 548 kills and a .379 hitting percentage. She was all-New England and a third-team CoSIDA academic All-American. Volleyball catapulted the third Cardinal to Player of the Year recognition as Lisa Drennan ’09 became a two-time winner, grabbing the laurels in both 2006 and 2008. She earned all-New England honors both seasons and as a senior, was a second-team AVCA All-American and second-team CoSIDA academic All-American. Wesleyan was a collective 40-16 those two campaigns.
In the fall of 2012, Wesleyan accomplished a new feat – a pair of NESCAC Players of the Year in the same season. And not only the same season, but the same sport. Adam Purdy ’13, for the men, and Laura Kurash ’13, for the women, both gained supreme conference recognition from the soccer coaches of the NESCAC. It was a perfect evolution for both players as each was a NESCAC Rookie of the Year in 2009. Kurash, a high-scoring forward, also was a second-team all-NESCAC pick that year while Purdy, a goaltender, made the first team along with all-New England and third-team All-America honors. The next three seasons, Kurash found her way to the all-NESCAC first team and also gained all-New England and CoSIDA/Capital One District II academic All-America accolades in 2011. Purdy was a NESCAC first-teamer in 2011 to complement his all-New England status.
All the honors are not yet in for 2012. So far, Kurash has added CoSIDA/Capital One District II academic All-America recognition for a second year. Both are likely candidates for all-New England acclaim once again. Kurash was among the top three in the NESCAC for scoring points with 22 and goals with nine while ranking in the top 10 for assists with four. She ended her four years with 37 goals and 14 assists for 88 points, ranking her second all-time at Wesleyan in both goals and points. Of her 37 goals, 15 were game-winners. Purdy started every game in goal for Wesleyan since he arrived on campus, 69 in total, and posted a lofty 40-17-12 overall record. He recorded a school-record 31 shutouts over his four seasons and had a career goals-against average of 0.71 and a save percentage of .842. In 2012, he went 9-4-4 with a 0.62 goals-against average and a .836 save percentage with seven shutouts.
In 2012, Kurash helped her team to a spot in the NESCAC semifinals for only the second time in school history, the first coming last year. Wesleyan has qualified for the NESCAC women’s soccer tournament five times, four of those with Kurash on the roster. Purdy helped Wesleyan qualify for the NCAA Division III tournament for the fifth time in the last eight years and third time in the last four.
(Photos by Peter Stein ’84 and SteveMcLaughlinPhotography.com)