Dec. 1, 2005
Cullowhee, N.C. -
Western Carolina today announced that junior goalkeeper Alesha Row and senior defensive end Rico Reese were named the Catamount Student-Athletes of the Month for their performances during the month of November. Row joins previous monthly female winners Emily Pierce (September) and Ashley Hovda (October), with Reese joining Matt Cook (September) and teammate Mitchell Dukes (October).
Row (Fargo, N.D.) was a force between the pipes for Western's soccer team, helping guide the Catamounts to their first-ever Southern Conference Tournament Championship and berth in the NCAA College Cup Championship. She recorded a monthly record of 3-1 overall, which included back-to-back shutout wins over regionally ranked, and top-seeded, Davidson and No. 2 seed Furman, in the semi and final rounds of the SoCon tournament. The Wildcats had previously gone unbeaten through the regular season, only tying one match. Row only surrendered one goal during the SoCon Championship run, while tallying 15 saves to earn the tourney's Most Outstanding Performer honors. The week following, she garnered additional honors as she was tabbed the TIAA-CREF Student-Athlete of the Week by the SoCon offices, which salutes outstanding performance both on and off the field.
As the Catamounts advanced to the NCAA tournament for the first-time in school history, Row faced a season-high 23 shots, recording five saves in the first-round loss. For the month, she recorded a goals against average of .73 while making 20 saves for a save percentage of 87-percent. Her WCU single-season record 13 shutouts pulls her to within one of tying former All-SoCon performer, Mandi Tinsley, for the Catamount career record, which currently stands at 18.0. Row's seasonal goals against average of 0.74 ranks as the best-ever, single-season average in WCU history, with her save percentage of .862 ranking second all-time and her 107 saves ranking fourth on the WCU top 10 list.
Also receiving consideration for the women's student-athlete of the month award were freshman Lauren Powell (women's basketball) who led the team with a 15.5 points per game average, which included career-highs of 20 points and six 3-pointers at 10th-ranked Michigan State; sophomore middle blocker Meredith Harmon (volleyball), who hit a team-high .310 with three double-figure kill matches; senior Brandy Andersen, who led the women's golf team with her fourth top 10 finish of the fall with a sixth-place finish at the Lady Jaguar Invitational in Augusta, Ga.; and sophomore Kerrie Savery (cross country) who led the Cats with the fourth-best, 6-K time (23:26) in school history at the NCAA East Regionals.
Reese (Austell, Ga.) finished his senior season by earning first team All-Southern Conference honors from the voting media and second team accolades from the league's head coaches. During the month of November, just as in the win over second-ranked Furman, Reese had a game-changing play against Wofford. With the Terriers down just 10-0 and facing fourth-and-four, he broke through the line to register a 10-yard sack, forcing the turnover on downs. He helped shut out Wofford, marking the first-time since the Terriers joined the SoCon in 1997. Reese concluded his career by collecting nine tackles at Appalachian State, including two TFLs and a half sack.
Reese finished the season by ranking second on the team in tackles with 58, which ranks 15th in the SoCon. Four of his seasonal 12 tackles for losses came in November, helping him rank fifth in the SoCon and 52nd in the nation. Reese also helped Western Carolina lead the nation in pass defense, allowing just 132.33 passing yards per game. The Catamounts also led the SoCon and ranked fifth nationally in pass efficiency defense with a rating of 98.81.
Also receiving consideration for the men's student-athlete of the month award were sophomore Antonio Russell (men's basketball), who led the team in scoring in seven of the first nine games, including scoring 18 points or more in each of those outings; and senior Adam Puett (cross country) who finished 46th at the NCAA East Regionals to lead the Catamounts, running the sixth-best, 10-K time ever at Western, tripping the tape in 31:38.