Oct. 31, 2006
AUBURN, Ala. -
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Senior defender Ronda Brooks was voted the Southeastern Conference's Defensive Player of the Year by the league's coaches, the conference office announced on Tuesday. Fellow seniors Kristin Stewart and Jenny Zarzour were named to the All-SEC Second Team while Gabi Rivera was named to the SEC's All-Freshman Team. Sophomore Summer Ragsdale was also recognized for her community service and was named the Good Works Team.
Brooks has been the anchor on Auburn's backline for every game this season, starting all 18 games in the middle back for a team that allowed just 14 goals on the season. The Marietta, Ga., native also scored two goals on the year and assisted on another for the Tigers, who won their fifth SEC West Division title in the last six seasons.
Brooks, who has been named to the All-SEC First Team for the third straight season, becomes just the second Tiger to ever win a player of the year award from the conference, joining Sarah Steinmann, who was named the league's player of the year in 2002. The only other Tiger to be selected to the first team three times was midfielder Kristen Schier (1994, 1995, 1997). Brooks is also just the third SEC West player to ever win a major award from the conference, joining Steinmann and Arkansas' Honey Marsh in 1993.
Senior forward Kristin Stewart and senior midfielder Jenny Zarzour were voted to the second team for the first time in each of their careers. Stewart, from Lilburn, Ga., has played in 17 games this season and is tied for the team lead with five goals, one of which was a game-winner. Zarzour, from Huntsville, Ala., started all 18 games in the midfield for the Tigers, scoring two goals while adding a team-high six assists. She too collected a game-winner on the season, converting a penalty kick in double-overtime to defeat Tennessee on October 22.
Rivera, a midfielder from Lithia, Fla., who suffered a season-ending injury in the win over Tennessee, scored three goals and added an assist in 17 contests before going down. She joins Brooks (2003) as Tigers selected to the All-Freshman team as midfielders. Lauren Stewart (2004) and Jenn Johnson (2005) had previously been selected off of the AU defense.
A sophomore political science major from Birmingham, Ragsdale has been a part of the Beat Bama Canned Food Drive the last two years, participated in Auburn City Fest and Read Across America. She's a Student-Athlete Day participant, has worked with the Methodist Church on its Habitat for Humanity, Toys for Tots, and downtown Auburn Trick-or-Treat. She is the chair of SAAC, she started the All-Auburn, All-Athletes program, volunteered to play soccer with the after-school program at a local elementary school and worked with the SAAC for a clothing drive, where she accepted donations, sorted and bagged clothes before taking them to Hannah Home. She also worked at Auburn's Sesquicentennial Celebration, and has been involved in a Halloween Service Project with Auburn Day Care.
The Tigers play the first round of the SEC Tournament on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. CT against Tennessee at the Orange Beach Soccer Complex.