Holy Cross Varsity Club Announces Yearly Award Winners

May 3, 2008

WORCESTER, Mass. - The Holy Cross Varsity Club announced its yearly awards at its 53rd annual dinner, held on Saturday, May 3, at the Hogan Campus Center. Leading the way was senior Christine Strawson (Torrington, Conn.) of the women's volleyball team, who was selected as the 2007-2008 Crusader of the Year. In addition to presenting its annual student-athlete awards, the club also inducted five new members into the Hall of Fame. Hall of Fame inductees were: Ronnie Cote (Class of 1956, baseball), Pete Kimener (Class of 1967, football, track & field), Anna Kinne Patel (Class of 2000, basketball), David Stecchi (Class of 1959, football, track & field) and Mark Duffner (honorary, football coach).


Senior outside hitter Christine Strawson (Torrington, Conn.), a member of the women's volleyball team, has been selected as the 2007-2008 Crusader of the Year. A three-time All-Patriot League selection, Strawson led the Crusaders with 316 kills this season, while placing second on the team with 233 digs. She ranked fourth in the Patriot League in kills and ninth in digs, while recording double-digit kills in 19 matches with 10 double-doubles. For her career, Strawson holds the Holy Cross all-time record for career kills with 1,246, while her 814 career digs are sixth all-time in school history. The Patriot League Scholar Athlete of the Year in both 2005 and 2006, Strawson was also named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District I team three times and to the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll four times.

Senior attacker Amy Archambault (West Hartford, Conn.) from the women's lacrosse team is the recipient of the John A. Meegan Athletic Achievement Award. A two-time All-Patriot League selection and the 2005 Patriot League Rookie of the Year, Archambault led the Crusaders to a pair of Patriot League championships and the first two NCAA Tournament appearances in school history in 2006 and 2007. She totaled 95 goals and 34 assists for 129 points over the course of her Holy Cross career, and scored the game-winning goal against American in the 2007 Patriot League championship game. A two-time team captain, Archambault was selected to the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll in both 2006 and 2007. In addition to her accomplishments on the field, she has also served as a coach for youth lacrosse clubs and camps.

Senior defenseman Matt Burke (Milton, Mass.), a member of the men's ice hockey team, received the John P. Cooney Memorial Award, which is presented to a senior letterwinner who has performed beyond all expectations with courage, loyalty and dedication. A two-time winner of the Glenn "Spike" Crane Memorial Award as the hockey player who excels most in the little things and leads his teammates by example, Burke totaled 15 goals and 50 assists for 65 points in 138 games played during his Holy Cross career. A team captain and third team All-Atlantic Hockey Association selection as a senior, he is tied for fourth on the all-time Holy Cross career games played list. As a sophomore, Burke had the assist on the game-winning overtime goal in the 4-3 victory over Minnesota in the NCAA West Regional semifinals on March 24, 2006, while as a freshman he received the team's Seventh Player Award.

Senior strong safety Kent Flanders (Atlanta, Ga.), a member of the football team, has been selected as the recipient of the Daniel Allen Sportsmanship Award. The Allen Award was established in 2005, and is presented to the Holy Cross varsity athlete who best exemplifies the qualities of sportsmanship that coach Allen exhibited throughout his life. A four-year starter for the Crusaders, Flanders was one of the most well-liked and respected members of the team, who mentored younger players and served as a positive role model. He ranked sixth on the team with 49 tackles during the 2007 season, and finished his career with 163 total tackles, nine pass breakups, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one interception. In addition, Flanders took part in Holy Cross Cares Day, and was involved in the after-school program at St. Peter-Marian Catholic in Worcester.

The Richard J. Maloney Award, given annually to the men's basketball team's most valuable player, was presented to senior center Tim Clifford (Walpole, Mass.). A first team All-Patriot League selection, Clifford averaged 18.0 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocked shots per game on the year for the Crusaders, while shooting 57.1 percent from the floor (205 of 359) and 78.2 percent at the foul line (97 of 124). He finished the season ranked first in the league in field goal percentage and blocked shots, fourth in scoring and sixth in rebounding. Clifford led the team in scoring 24 times in 29 games played this year, including each of Holy Cross' last 15 contests. He also scored in double figures 27 straight times to end the season, while going for at least 20 points in 12 of those games. Over the course of his career as a Crusader, Clifford totaled 1,246 points, 514 rebounds and 210 blocked shots. He is Holy Cross' all-time leader in career blocks, while standing 20th all-time in scoring.

Senior guard Laura Aloisi (Nashua, N.H.) has been awarded the Samantha Vellaccio Award, which is presented annually to the varsity women's basketball player who best exemplifies the mission of Holy Cross both on and off the court. A co-captain of this year's team, Aloisi averaged 8.6 points, 4.1 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game, while leading the Crusaders to an overall record of 19-13 and an appearance in the Patriot League Tournament championship game. She led the Patriot League in both assists and steals this season, and totaled 669 points, 445 assists, 324 rebounds and 214 steals over the course of her four-year career. Off the court, Aloisi played a large role in Holy Cross' involvement with the Mercy Centre, a private day school located in Worcester that services students aged 6-22 with special needs.

Senior catcher Brendan Akashian (Lowell, Mass.) has received the Hop Riopel Award as the baseball team's most valuable player. Akashian, who also won the Riopel Award last year, is batting .321 on the season, with three home runs and a team-best 30 runs batted in. He leads the Crusaders with a .460 on-base percentage, in addition to posting a .438 slugging percentage. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Akashian owns a .304 batting average with nine homers and 77 runs batted in. The Ray Dobens Award, presented to the most improved baseball player, has gone to senior pitcher Matt O'Brien (Hingham, Mass.). After throwing just 22 innings during his first three years at Holy Cross, O'Brien developed into one of the Crusaders' top starting pitchers this season. He has tossed 38 innings with eight starts in 2008, and ranks third on the team with 33 strikeouts. Both Akashian and O'Brien have helped the Crusaders to just their third all-time Patriot League Tournament appearance, and their first 20-win season since 1980.

Four football players were presented with the Davitt Awards, as the top backs and linemen on both sides of the ball. The Davitt Awards were instituted by Jim Davitt of Holyoke, Mass. (Class of 1913), in memory of his brother, Rev. William Davitt (Class of 1907), who played football and ran track while at Holy Cross, and was the last United States officer to lose his life in World War I. This year's winners were senior cornerback Casey Gough (Hinsdale, Ill.), senior linebacker Mark Kelliher (Whitman, Mass.), senior wide receiver Ryan Maher (Boca Raton, Fla.) and senior offensive tackle Dan Nolan (Pittsfield, Mass.).


Ronnie Cote was a standout pitcher on the Crusader baseball team from 1954-1956. During his senior year, he earned first team All-New England honors after posting an 8-2 record with a 2.29 earned run average and 77 strikeouts. Cote also had an outstanding season as a junior, when he was 5-3 with a 1.34 earned run average and 67 strikeouts, while in his sophomore year he posted a 4-0 mark with a 1.13 earned run average and 38 strikeouts. He helped lead Holy Cross to a 44-10 overall record during his three seasons on the varsity squad, with the Crusaders advancing to the NCAA Tournament in both 1954 and 1955. In the final game of his collegiate career, Cote threw a one-hit shutout in a 12-0 victory over Boston College, with the only hit he allowed coming on a scratch single with two outs in the ninth inning. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Cote posted an overall record of 17-5 with a 1.70 earned run average and 182 strikeouts.

Pete Kimener was one of the top receivers for the Holy Cross football team from 1964-1966. He served as team captain during his senior year, when he led the team with 33 receptions for 409 yards and two touchdowns. Kimener was also the Crusaders' leading receiver during his junior season, catching 21 passes for 221 yards. A versatile player who also saw action on defense, he finished his career with 55 receptions for 648 yards, and earned All-New England honors as a senior. One of Kimener's biggest plays came during the final game of his collegiate career, when he caught a touchdown pass from Jack Lentz in the closing seconds to defeat Boston College, 32-26. In addition to his exploits on the gridiron, Kimener ran the high hurdles and threw the javelin on the Holy Cross track and field team. He won a total of seven varsity letters, and was named the 1967 Crusader of the Year.

Anna Kinne Patel was a key member of the Holy Cross women's basketball team from 1996-2000, leading the Crusaders to an overall record of 88-28 during her four years, including a 44-4 mark in the Patriot League. She also helped Holy Cross to three appearances in the NCAA Tournament, earned All-Patriot League honors three times, and was selected as the Most Valuable Player of the Patriot League Tournament twice. Patel was named the Patriot League Player of the Year following her senior season, when she led the team in scoring (14.3 points per game), in addition to posting 137 assists and 79 steals. She holds the all-time school record with 333 career steals, and also stands in the top two spots on the Crusader single season list for steals (95 in 1997-1998; 92 in 1998-1999). In addition, Patel ranks second all-time at Holy Cross in three-point field goals made (163), fifth in assists (532) and 11th in scoring (1,234 points).

David Stecchi was a three-year starter for the Crusader football team on both sides of the ball, playing tight end and defensive end. He led Holy Cross to an overall record of 16-9-2 from 1956-1958, including two victories over both Boston College and Syracuse. During his senior season, Stecchi led the team with 19 receptions for 331 yards and two touchdowns. He was named first team All-East and second team All-New England as a senior, after being selected first team All-New England as a junior. In addition, Stecchi received Catholic All-America honors from Extension Magazine following his sophomore season. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, he totaled 41 receptions for 687 yards and four touchdowns. Stecchi was also a member of the Crusader track and field team, competing in the high hurdles.

Mark Duffner became Holy Cross' head football coach prior to the 1986 season, taking over a team in a state of emotional despair and quickly transforming it into the nation's most successful Division I-AA program. He guided the Crusaders to a 60-5-1 record in six seasons, including perfect 11-0 marks in both 1987 and 1991. Holy Cross won five Patriot League championships, four Lambert Cups and four ECAC Team of the Year awards during Duffner's tenure, and also earned the No. 1 ranking in the final 1987 NCAA Division I-AA poll. He was named the Patriot League Coach of the Year four times, and also took home National Coach of the Year honors in 1987 and 1991. Duffner ranks third all-time at Holy Cross with his 60 career victories, while his .917 winning percentage is the best in school and Patriot League history.

Crusader of the Year: Christine Strawson.
John A. Meegan Athletic Achievement Award: Amy Archambault.
John P. Cooney Memorial Award: Matt Burke.
Daniel Allen Sportsmanship Award: Kent Flanders.
Richard J. Maloney Award: Tim Clifford.
Samantha Vellaccio Award: Laura Aloisi.
Hop Riopel Award: Brendan Akashian.
Ray Dobens Award: Matt O'Brien.
Davitt Awards: Casey Gough, Mark Kelliher, Ryan Maher, Dan Nolan.
Hall of Fame Inductees: Ronnie Cote (Class of 1956, baseball), Pete Kimener (Class of 1967, football, track & field), Anna Kinne Patel (Class of 2000, basketball), David Stecchi (Class of 1959, football, track & field) and Mark Duffner (honorary, football coach).