FOREST, Va. --- ODAC champion University of Lynchburg earned a league-high six all-conference honors plus two special individual awards to lead the 2018 All-ODAC Field Hockey Awards. For the second time in her career, Nikki Simpao earned ODAC Player of the Year honors while Lynchburg mentor Enza Steele took home ODAC Coach of the Year Laurels.
Shenandoah University collected the remaining special individual awards. Midfielder Kelsey Jones received ODAC Rookie of the Year accolades, while defender Morgan Payne was named the ODAC/Virginia Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete in a vote of the league's sports information directors.
The list of repeat All-ODAC honorees is long with 21 student-athletes picking up awards for the second straight year. That includes every member of the 11-woman All-ODAC First Team. Simpao along with teammate Jackie Lerro are two of seven repeat first teamers. Roanoke College's Emma Clark and Kaylin Stenson, Shenandoah's Taylor Hayes and Payne, and Washington and Lee University's Haley Tucker complete that list.
Lynchburg's Kayla Copeman moved up from the 2017 All-ODAC Second Team, while fellow Hornet Alexis Brown made the jump from the All-ODAC Third Team. Roanoke's Emilee Wooten and W&L's Lauren Paolano complete the contingent of first team returners as both stepped up a rung on the all-conference ladder from last year's second team.
RELATED: 2017 All-ODAC Awards | All-Time All-Conference
Simpao, a senior from Stafford, Va., bookends her career with this season's top-player honor, adding it to the 2015 ODAC Player and Rookie of the Year awards. Simpao enters the NCAA Tournament as the ODAC leader in points (65), goals scored (22), and assists (21). She has registered at least one point in 21-of-22 games played with a season-high 12 markers on five goals and two assists in a win at Eastern Mennonite in mid-October. She reset the ODAC single-game assists record with six helpers in Lynchburg's 7-2 win over Shenandoah in the ODAC title game. Simpao is well-positioned in the ODAC career record books as well. She is currently fourth in points (220), ninth in goals scored (82), and third in assists (56). She is one assist shy of tying for sixth.
Steele, in her 39th season guiding Lynchburg's field hockey program, enjoys her 10th ODAC top-coaching honor. She previously earned the recognition in 1982, 1984, 1988, 1989, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009, and 2011. The Hornets captured an ODAC record 19th conference title on Saturday, their first since the last of nine straight in 2014. Lynchburg ran thru its league slate unbeaten on the way to a 15-5 overall record. The Hornets will make their 17th appearance in the NCAA Tournament on Wednesday. Steele currently boasts a 583-227-11 (.717) career record.
Jones, a freshman from Fredericksburg, Va., immediately became a key player in Shenandoah's lineup, starting all 20 games. She finished second on the team with 26 points on eight goals and 10 assists. Her assist total ranks fourth in the ODAC. She also recorded seven defensive saves, good for second in the conference. Jones registered at least one point in 13-of-20 games played including five of her last six. She notched a season-high seven points on three goals and an assist in a 10-0 non-conference win over Hood early in the season.
Payne, senior from Jobstown, N.J., is the second straight Shenandoah player to win the scholar-athlete award following former teammate Elizabeth Pardo in 2017. Payne pairs this award with a second straight appointment to the All-ODAC First Team. In the classroom, Payne maintains a 3.84 grade point average as a Biology/Pre-Med and Public Health major. In addition to being a perennial member of the ODAC All-Academic Team and Shenandoah Dean's List, Payne has been named to the NFHCA National Academic Squad and is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK) national leadership honor society.
On the field, the Hornets' captain racked up 24 points on nine goals and six assists. Payne scored in the clutch with three game-winning goals in one-goal contests. She was responsible for the deciding tally in a 2-1 win at Dickinson, a 2-1 triumph over Bridgewater, and a 1-0 victory over Roanoke.
Listed below are the 2018 All-ODAC Field Hockey Awards. For more information, visit any of the participating schools' websites, or go to the ODAC's home on the Internet at www.odaconline.com. Don't forget to become a fan of the ODAC on Facebook and follow @odacathletics on Twitter and Instagram.
ODAC Player of the Year: Nikki Simpao, Sr., F/M, Lynchburg
ODAC Coach of the Year: Enza Steele, Lynchburg
ODAC Rookie of the Year: Kelsey Jones, Fr., M, Shenandoah
ODAC/Virginia Farm Bureau Scholar-Athlete: Morgan Payne, Sr., D, Shenandoah
|ALL-ODAC FIRST TEAM|
|Alexis Brown +||So.||D||Lynchburg|
|Kayla Copeman ^||Sro.||F/M||Lynchburg|
|Jackie Lerro *||So.||F||Lynchburg|
|Nikki Simpao *||Sr.||F/M||Lynchburg|
|Emma Clark *||Jr.||GK||Roanoke|
|Kaylin Stenson *||Sr.||D||Roanoke|
|Emilee Wooten ^||So.||F||Roanoke|
|Taylor Hayes *||Jr.||M||Shenandoah|
|Morgan Payne *||Sr.||D||Shenandoah|
|Lauren Paolano ^||Jr.||F||Washington and Lee|
|Haley Tucker *||Sr.||F||Washington and Lee|
|ALL-ODAC SECOND TEAM|
|Laura Gretz *||Sr.||D||Bridgewater|
|Georgia Howard ^||Jr.||D||Bridgewater|
|Tessa Tierson ^||Sr.||F||Bridgewater|
|Kayla Maret||So.||F||Eastern Mennonite|
|Maria Teresa Ambrogi-Torres +||So.||F||Randolph-Macon|
|Georgia Drescher ^||So.||D||Randolph-Macon|
|Kayla Alderman ^||Sr.||F||Shenandoah|
|Cori Jackson +||Jr.||M||Virginia Wesleyan|
|Skye Swain ^||Sr.||GK||Virginia Wesleyan|
|ALL-ODAC THIRD TEAM|
|Skylar Hedgepeth||Fr.||F||Eastern Mennonite|
|Julie Fassl||So.||F||Virginia Wesleyan|
|Emily Price||Jr.||F||Virginia Wesleyan|
|Elizabeth Roberto ^||Jr.||D||Virginia Wesleyan|
|Caroline Caruso||So.||M||Washington and Lee|
|Ariyel Yavalar +||Sr.||GK||Washington and Lee|
|* 2017 First Team
^ 2017 Second Team
+ 2017 Third Team