CAMBRIDGE, Mass.Meg Shea (Melrose, Mass.), a senior forward on the University of New Hampshire field hockey team, was named Offensive Player of the Year by the America East conference on Thursday. Four other UNH Wildcats received conference accolades.

Shea was joined on the America East All-Conference First Team by sophomore forward Whitney Frates (Woodstock, Vt.). Junior midfielder Kara Connolly (Mohegan Lake, N.Y.) and sophomore back Kendall Deck (Bridgewater, N.J.) were All-Conference Second Team selections and freshman midfielder Melyssa Woods (Glens Falls, N.Y.) was voted to the All-Rookie Team.

Shea, a repeat First Team honoree, was a unanimous selection to this year’s squad. She is ranked seventh in the nation in both goals per game (1.24) and points per game (2.94), and those numbers are best in America East. Shea has a school-record 18-game point-scoring streak in which she has compiled 23 goals and nine assists for 55 points – the program’s single-season point record is 57. In addition to leading UNH in those three statistics, Shea has team highs in both game-winning goals (four) and shots (66), and she ranks second in shooting percentage (.348). In five league games, the captain tallied five goals and five assists for 15 points. She has scored a goal in 15 of 18 games with seven multiple-goal efforts and she has tallied an assist in nine games, including each of the last five. Shea was the only player to win back-to-back America East Player of the Week awards this season and received that honor three times overall, which was another league high.

Frates, a Second Team and All-Rookie Team honoree in 2008, was also a unanimous First Team selection in ’09. She started all 18 games and compiled 29 points on 10 goals and nine assists to tie Shea for the lead in assists and rank second in both goals and points. Frates is currently third in America East in assists per game as well as fourth in both points per game and goals per game. She ended the regular season with a four-game point-scoring streak and has scored a goal in each of the last three games, including Tuesday’s overtime game-winner at Harvard University. Frates tallied three goals and an assist for seven points in five league games. Overall, she has a point in 12 of 18 games.

Connolly started all 18 games this season and had a breakout year offensively – especially with regards to her role on the penalty corner unit – with 10 points on a goal and eight assists to tie for third on the team in assists; in two previous years, she totaled four points (one goal, two assists). Connolly tallied a career-high two assists in the regular-season finale, a 5-4 overtime victory at Harvard on Nov. 3. Overall, she recorded a point in eight of 18 games.

Deck, an All-Rookie Team selection in ‘08, started all 17 games in which she played this season. Despite her youth, she once again proved to be a leader of the defensive corps and was an integral part of the defensive penalty corner unit as UNH recorded four shutouts and limited three other opponents to one goal.

Woods immediately stepped into a starting role and remained there all 18 games. She was an instrumental part of establishing tempo and transition attacks for the Wildcats. On the stat sheet, Woods recorded two goals and an assist for five points. She tallied a goal and an assist at Davidson College (Sept. 25) and scored the game-winning goal vs. Fairfield University (Oct. 24).

UNH (12-6 overall, 3-2 America East), winners of four straight and seven of eight, begins postseason play Nov. 6 (1 p.m.) in an America East semifinal game at the University at Albany. It is a rematch of both last weekend’s game (2-1 UNH victory) and last year’s league championship game (UA 2-1 win).

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