Lamar Loop: LU soccer's M.J Eckart wins conference honor

M.J. Eckart playing soccer

Lamar University senior M.J. Eckart was named the Southland Conference Women’s Soccer Student-Athlete of the Year, and the Cardinals placed four student-athletes on the conference’s all-academic team.

Eckart, of Flower Mound, who has a 4.0 GPA in exercise science, is the first Cardinal in the 11-year history of the women’s soccer program at LU to be named the conference’s student-athlete of the year. The midfielder is one of three Cardinals to be named first-team all-academic this season, along with senior goalkeeper Lauren Lovejoy (of PN-G) and senior defender Marie Lund (Norway). Junior midfielder Juliana Ocampo (Columbia) was a second-team all-academic selection.

“I’m really proud of what these players have accomplished in the classroom,” said coach Steve Holeman. “With all the success we had on the field this year, it’s great to see four players recognized for their academic efforts.”

Eckart, a first-team all-conference player, had a solid season on the field for the Cardinals, who went 18-4-1 overall and 10-1-0 in conference play, capturing the Southland’s regular-season and tournament championships for the first time ever. Eckart tied for third on the team in scoring with 15 points on six goals and three assists. She leaves LU as the program’s all-time leader in games played and games started at 78.

“For M.J. to be named first-team all-conference and then follow that up as the Student-Athlete of the Year is truly remarkable,” Holeman said.

For her part, goalkeeper Lovejoy set a slew of school records this season, including goals-against average (0.90), shutouts (10) and wins 18. Her 26 career wins are also an LU record. Lovejoy has a 3.25 GPA in kinesiology. Lovejoy was a second-team all-conference selection.

Lund, who has a 3.38 GPA in general business, was a first-team all-conference player this past season. The defender also contributed on offense with five goals, including three-game winning goals, and one assist for 11 points.

Ocampo has a 3.68 GPA in management. She appeared in all 23 games this season, making 22 starts. She finished the campaign with 13 points on five goals and three assists.

The three first-team selections are the most the Cardinals have had on the conference’s all-academic team.

Women’s golf

Lamar golf coach Jessica Steward announced that Laura Pasalodos (Barcelona, Spain/Car Sant Cugat HS) has signed a National Letter of Intent to attend LU on a golf scholarship starting with the 2018-19 academic year.

“I’m thrilled to announce that Laura will be joining our program next year. She caught my eye as a prospect because she has lots of competitive experience and a ton of potential to capitalize on,” Steward said. “She’s also a good student, a solid person, and comes from a great family.”

Pasalodos had a successful 2017 season in Europe, winning under-18 titles at the Catalonian stroke play and match play championships. Among other accomplishments, she placed 22nd at the Spanish Open Championship, which was open to all age levels.

“Laura chose Lamar University over other programs because we are serious about helping our golfers become the best athletes they can be,” Steward said. “She’s motivated to improve and is dedicated to helping us reach our goals. I’m excited to see how she grows during her career here.”

The Cardinals are the most successful women’s golf program in the Southland Conference, having won seven team championships and four individual championships since the conference recognized the sport in 2002.

Basketball

Six players scored in double figures as Lamar defeated Howard Payne, 112-56, on Dec. 9 at the Montagne Center. The victory provides LU fans something they haven’t seen in more than two decades as the Cards improved to 8-1 (.875) on the season. It marks the program’s first 8-1 start since the 1992-93 season, and just the second since the 1982-83 campaign.

“I thought this game was a collective effort,” said head coach Tic Price. “Any time you can have six guys in double figures and have 20 assists is very unselfish basketball. I really like the way we shared the ball tonight.”

The Cardinals shot 50 percent from the field in a game they never trailed. Big Red finished the day converting 10-of-29 (.345) from three-point range, and a vastly improved 28-of-38 (.718) effort from the free throw line.

Juniors Josh Nzeakor and Nick Garth finished the night with a game-high 18 points. Senior Colton Weisbrod scored 17 points and pulled down seven rebounds, while Bosha added 12 points and a game-high seven rebounds. Senior Joey Frenchwood chipped in 10 while sophomore T.J. Atwood scored 10 points and pulled down five rebounds in his first career start.

LU will next go on a four-game stretch on the road beginning Sunday, Dec. 17, at Southern Illinois at 3 p.m. and on Tuesday, Dec. 19, at Duquense at 6 p.m.

The women’s team will next play on Wednesday, Dec. 20, at New Mexico and won’t play again at home until Jan. 3.

Softball

Lamar softball coach Holly Bruder announced that infielder Sable Hankins and outfielder Brittany Rodriguez will not return to the program for the 2018 season due to violations of team rules. No specific reasons were given.

Rodriguez, a three-time all-conference player led the team in hitting with a .388 batting average, runs (47) and hits (81) last season. She has since transferred to the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns softball team.

Hankins was third on the team last season in batting average (.313) but first in home runs with 6.

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