Men’s and women’s soccer players win SAA awards

Asa Daniels, Campus Carrier staff writer

On Nov. 11, both the men’s and women’s soccer teams had players win Southern Athletic Association (SAA) recognitions. Sophomores Vanessa Belanger and Anna Salisbury won second team recognition. Sophomore Alyssa Stevens and freshman Karsen Brantley won honorable mention recognition. Seniors Jake Williamson and Henry Arato were all-conference honorees. Junior Josh Pruett also won all-conference honoree status. Williamson won the SAA’s first Offensive Player of the year. 

Both head coach Lorenzo Canalis of the women’s team and head coach Richard Vardy of the men’s team were happy with the awards won. 

“It’s a good honor,” Canalis said. “It’s recognition of their positions as key players on our team.” 

Vardy is not surprised by the selection of players chosen from the Berry men’s team. He argued that players put in continued effort throughout the years to earn their recognition. 

“You have to not just impress me and your teammates, you’ve gotta impress the other coaches,” Vardy said. “It takes them a while to get that recognition and it’s a reflection of not just this season, it’s a reflection of [them] keep[ing] this up for three or four years.” 

For the SAA awards, the coaches can nominate their players and they vote for other teams’ players. In the end, the players are ranked out of the entire conference that Berry is in, which includes seven other schools. As such, conference games are important for testing players’ skills. 

“You’re gonna have a combination of genuine talent and then be able to show it in conference games,” Canalis said. 

This is Belanger’s second straight-year of all-conference recognition, and is Stevens’ second straight-year honorable mention. For Brantley and Salisbury these are their first all-conference recognitions. For Williamson, this is his third straight-year of a first-team honor. This is Arato’s and Pruett’s first SAA honor in their careers. 

For Vardy, players at Berry are important in creating an image of Berry for not only other schools but also new players. 

“All three kids are really good representatives of Berry, not just the soccer program and they’re kids who hold up themselves for our freshmen to look towards,” Vardy said. 

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