LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. – In a vote of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference head women's soccer coach and released by the conference offices, Centenary (9-5) placed four members on the All-Conference team.
The four honorees, junior Emilee Byrd and Kyra Montes (First Team), junior Betzabet Bravo (Second Team), and freshman Kat Martinez (Honorable Mention) are the most All-Conference selections in more than 20 years (However, the Ladies placed five in 2000 and four in 2002 on the All-Independent Team). In addition, the two First Team selections for Centenary is the most single season since Centenary was in the Mid-Continent Conference in 2004.
This marks the first All-Conference nod for Byrd.
"This selection for Emilee is incredibly deserving," said head coach Greg Cathell. "Emilee has been a consummate professional for us on the field and the heart and soul of our midfield. As I said earlier in the year, 'When Emilee goes, we go.' She has been making things happen for us all year. As a player who is often left to play 1v1 in the middle of the field defensively, she is stout in her match-ups and consistently comes out of those battles with possession of the ball. As a box-to-box player, she often springs our transition and has really been quite the threat around the penalty area this year."
She finished third on the team with a pair of goals, both of which were game-winning scores. Her first goal of her collegiate career came on the Mayo Field pitch in the season opener against Belhaven on September 1, breaking a 1-1 tie. Against Austin College with the Ladies up 1-0, she blasted a shot that found the back of the net from 35 yards out to provide an important insurance goals in the 73rd minute. Austin College scored just six minutes later, but the Ladies held on for the win.
Byrd tallied her only assist of the season and the fourth of her career in the second game of the season, a Ladies 3-0 win against MIllsaps. She crossed a bar off the post, but junior Olivia Jackson cleaned up the rebound to cap the shutout win against the Majors.
Despite the Ladies losing five games because of weather this season, Montes turned in one of the most successful seasons in the non-scholarship era to be named First Team All-Conference. With the First Team Selection for the second straight year, Montes becomes only the second player in program history to receive this honor in consecutive seasons (Shelley Marusak in the Trans-America Athletic Conference in 1993 and 1994).
Montes also received a pair of votes for SCAC Offensive Player of the Year.
"For the second year in a row, Kyra has proven herself to be one of the best players in the conference," said Cathell. "Her six game-winning goals alone tell you what kind of player she is for us. More than anything else, she's humble and always wants what's best for the team. To receive votes as conference player of the year as well is no small feat and speaks volumes for how she is viewed in the conference."
Montes finished third in the conference in total goals (14), finishing second in the SCAC and 25th in the nation in goals per game (1.00). Montes also led the conference and ranked 15th nationally with six game-winning goals. She recorded a pair of hat tricks in two games for the season, becoming the first Centenary player in 18 years to record multiple hat tricks for a season.
Entering the SCAC Tournament, Montes has 14 goals for the season and 17 for her career to break the Ladies Soccer Division III era record in both categories. With eight career game-winning goals, she also broke that career record. In the non-scholarship era, she currently sits second for points in a single season (33), breaking the mark for points in a career (41) earlier this season.
Bravo makes an appearance on the SCAC All-Conference team for the second consecutive season after being named to the Honorable Mention Team in 2017.
"Betza continues her climb with her Second Team selection this year," said Cathell. "She's a great shoulder-to-shoulder player for us that really brings a physical edge to our squad. She penetrates interior gaps in our opponents' back line and often finds quality chances in front of the net. Her continued growth as a player speaks volumes about her summer training habits and drive to be the best she can. We couldn't be happier for Betza and her selection to the All-Conference team."
Bravo scored a pair of goals and added a pair of assists for the second-straight season. She found the back of the net against nationally-ranked Trinity, becoming the only conference player to score a goal against the Tigers this season. Both of Bravo's assists came on critical equalizing goals against Belhaven and Johnson & Wales – the latter coming in the 78th minute of the Ladies 2-1 overtime win in Denver.
Martinez rounds out the All-Conference selections for the Ladies, becoming the first freshman to receive this honor for Centenary in four seasons (Riley Spudic, Second Team, 2014).
"On a team that had many freshmen this year, Kat not only proved herself to her fellow coaches and teammates, but to the conference as a whole," said Cathell. "Her versatility makes her one of the most valuable players on the field. Getting off to such a good start at forward for us this year, it was incredibly difficult to move her to center back because of injuries. She made the adjustment almost seamlessly. She possesses a skill set that not only allows her to play quality possession out of the back, but also shows an ability to skip thirds and spring board out of our offensive attack. I'm so happy Kat was valued by the conference the way that we do, and we look forward to three more exciting years with her on the pitch at Centenary."
Fourth-seeded Centenary kicks off the 2018 SCAC Women's Soccer Tournament Friday morning, November 2, when it takes on fifth seed Schreiner. Kickoff is scheduled for 11 a.m.