June 20, 2014
EVANSTON, Ill. -- On the eve of Northwestern's 2014 commencement activities, NU's graduating student-athletes gathered Thursday night at the annual N Club Induction ceremonies, where Alyssa Leonard was named Northwestern Athletics' 2014 Female Athlete of the Year.
By virtue of her selection as the top-performing female Wildcat in 2013-14, Leonard becomes one of 12 female student-athletes representing all Big Ten institutions eligible for the conference-wide Athlete of the Year award.
Leonard is the latest in a long line of women's lacrosse players to receive Northwestern's highest athletic honor -- a list that includes Jennifer Averill (1987), Kristen Kjellman (2006), Hannah Nielsen (2008 and 2009), Katrina Dowd (2010), Shannon Smith (2011), Taylor Thornton (2012) and now Leonard. Averill, Nielsen (2008) and Smith each went on to receive the Big Ten's recognition as the league's most outstanding female athlete across all sports.
Defender Kerri Harrington, a second-team IWLCA All-West Region selection in 2014, was recognized Thursday as the graduating women's lacrosse student-athlete with the highest cumulative GPA. Harrington is receiving her degree in social policy.
Northwestern's 2014 class, which posted a four-year won-loss record of 75-14 and was part of two NCAA championship-winning squads, consists of: Harrington, Leonard, Christy Turner, Kat DeRonda, Kate Macdonald, Jessica Roy, Caroline Gersuk, Kelly Rich, Kara Mupo and graduate student Kate Ivory.
Read on for Leonard's Female Athlete of the Year credentials and click here for the complete recap of Northwestern's 2013-14 special N Club Award recipients...
Despite not playing competitive lacrosse until her junior year of high school, Leonard burst on the sport's scene as a freshman at Northwestern in 2011, when she was the recipient of the American Lacrosse Conference's Rookie of the Year honors.
Her contributions as a draw control specialist during her debut season keyed the first of back-to-back NCAA championships for the Wildcats and foreshadowed what would transpire over the next three years, during which time Leonard would become Division I women's lacrosse's all-time leader in career draw controls. Relying on quick hands and her competitive demeanor, Leonard finished her NU tenure having controlled a staggering 469 draws in the circle, over 100 more than the previous NCAA record.
The 2014 All-American, Tewaaraton Award nominee and NCAA Championship All-Tournament Team selection also evolved into a fearless attacker for the Wildcats, leading Northwestern in her senior campaign with 53 points and 41 goals scored.
A Long Island native, Leonard graduates this spring with a degree in learning and organizational change.
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