|Delaware Valley's Eireann Anastasi is one of five Division III basketball players in the running for the NCAA's Woman of the Year award.
Delaware Valley athletics file photo
The NCAA announced the 142 athletes who have been nominated by their conferences as candidates for the Association's Woman of the Year honor. Five Division III basketball players made the cut -- Eireann Anastasi of Delaware Valley, Colleen Kane of Mass-Dartmouth, KC McConnell of Whitworth, Dana Peterson of Cabrini and Hayley Wirth of Lesley.
According to the NCAA, the Woman of the Year program "honors the academic achievements, athletics excellence, community service and leadership of graduating female college athletes from all three divisions."
Any athlete who completed her eligibility in her primary sport last season and earned a varsity letter in an NCAA-sponsored sport is eligible for the honor. Schools from all three levels of NCAA athletics forward their nominees to their conferences and conference officials submit their nominees to the NCAA.
The 517 school nominees were culled to a list of 142 conference nominees released on Wednesday including:
- Eireann Anastasi (Delaware Valley) was the MAC Freedom Conference's player of the year, the Atlantic Region Co-Player of the Year and a third-team All-American. She was also a Jostens Trophy finalist.
- Colleen Kane (Mass-Dartmouth) was the Corsairs' team captain for basketball and was the Little East's Offensive Player of the Year in lacrosse.
- KC McConnell (Whitworth) was second team All-West Region, first team all-conference for the NWC and a Jostens Trophy finalist.
- Dana Peterson (Cabrini) started 79 games over three seasons for the Cavailiers and was the CSAC's Female Scholar Athlete of the Year. She also played women's soccer and lacrosse at Cabrini.
- Hayley Wirth (Lesley) played one season of basketball and four of soccer for Lesley University where she was named first team All-NECC this past season.
In September the NCAA's award selection committee will name the Top 30 honorees with 10 from each Division. Later that month the committee will choose the nine finalists with three from each Division and the Woman of the Year will be selected from that group in October.
The 2015 Woman of the Year was Kristin Day, a diver at Division II Clarion (Pa.) University. Only two basketball players have won the award since its inception in 1991, both from Division I powerhouse programs-- Nkolika Anosike from Tennessee in 2008 and Rebecca Lobo from Connecticut in 1995.
The last Division III women's basketball player to reach the finalist stage was Alexa Baltes of Illinois Wesleyan in 2014.