HAMDEN, Conn. – Quinnipiac junior center Ilona Maher (Burlington, Vermont) was named the 2016-17 recipient of the MA Sorensen Award as the nation’s top women’s rugby player, it was announced today by the Washington Athletic Club and the Goff Rugby Report.
Maher earned the honor after leading Quinnipiac to its second straight NIRA national championship in the fall and its second straight undefeated 7s season in the spring. The Bobcats earned an 11-1 record in the fall, avenging their only loss of the season by defeating Central Washington 46-24 in the national championship match at Army West Point. Quinnipiac then compiled a perfect 15-0 record in the spring, winning 7s championships in tournaments at Harvard, AIC and Brown.
“I am honored to win this award and will continue to strive to be an even better player in the future,” said Maher. “I want to give a huge thanks to my exceptional team, which works so hard each and every day. I appreciate the nomination and all those who voted for me. Thank you to all who see the value worthy of recognition in my level of play, love of the game, and work ethic.”
“Ilona being selected as the Sorensen Award winner for 2017 is an incredible honor nationally,” said Quinnipiac head coach Becky Carlson, “and our program, coaching staff, QU athletics and NIRA could not be prouder of her achievements.”
Maher finished the fall season with 19 tries and a team-high 15 assists in 11 matches played, accounting for more tries (34) than any other player on the Bobcats. She also led Quinnipiac in scoring as a sophomore in 2015, with 27 tries and 17 assists, while helping he Bobcats to their first national title. She is a two-time NIRA All-America selection while with the Bobcats after transferring from Norwich following her freshman season.
The Sorensen Award was created in the 2015-16 season by the Washington Athletic Club of Seattle in conjunction with Goff Rugby Report and with the support of USA Rugby. It is presented to the top DI-level Women’s College Rugby Player of the season. It is named after MaryAnne Sorensen, who played for William & Mary , was a pioneer in the women’s game, and helped the USA win a Women’s Rugby World Cup as a prop for the Eagles in 1991. She went on to become a successful coach and anaesthesiologist, and is hugely respected in both the field of medicine and of rugby.
Maher was one of 14 players nominated by a panel of coaches and members of the media. The college rugby populace then voted on those nominees, with the top four vote-getters then going back in front of the panel as finalists. She will receive her Sorensen Award Trophy at the MA Sorensen & Rudy Scholz Awards at the Washington Athletic Club in Seattle on June 10.