March 6, 2008

CENTERVILLE, MA - University of Massachusetts Boston women's ice hockey player Rachel Sousa (Woburn, MA) was named the 2007-08 Eastern College Athletic Conference East Women's Ice Hockey Rookie of the Year and Maria Nasta (Andover, MA) was selected to the All-ECAC East First Team, it was announced by the conference tonight on its ECAC Awards web show on Sousa was also selected to the ECAC East All-Rookie squad.

Nasta, who is just the second player in school history to be selected to the ECAC East First Team, has exploded onto the scene for UMass Boston with a breakout season that has seen her name among the nation's leaders in points, goals and assists all season. The sophomore leads the Beacons with 44 points, 19 goals and 25 assists in 25 contests, while ranking third in the nation with 1.00 assists per game, fourth with 1.76 points per outing and seventh with 0.76 goals per game. The center leads ECAC East in points and assists and stands fifth in total goals, while ranking fourth among the nation's leaders with four game-winning goals and third among league leaders. The Andover High School product has also been a force on the power play with 14 points (2-12-14) to rank second in ECAC East and her two short-handed points (1-1-2) place her eighth among league leaders as does her one short-handed tally. Nasta made an impression early for UMass Boston becoming the fifth player in school history to register a hat trick in just her fourth game of the year. It would be the second of 14 multi-point efforts on the campaign, the third most in a season in school history. She also tallied three or more points in a game on eight occasions, including a pair of four-point performances. The 5'6" forward has been the team's most consistent scorer, picking up at least one point in all but five of UMass Boston's 25 games and put together an eight-game point-scoring streak from January 12 to February 2 for the third-longest for a UMB player, while picking up 17 points during the stretch. She has also posted four multi-goal games on the season to rank as the seventh-most in school history. The second-year player smashed the school-record for points and assists by a sophomore and is just one helper shy of tying the overall school-record, while owning the third-highest point total in school history for a season. Her goal total is also the seventh-highest total in school history and one shy of the most by a sophomore. Nasta's game-winning tally is also one shy of the school-standard. Nasta hasn't slowed down either as she currently enjoys a five-game point-scoring streak that has seen her total 10 points, while heading into the ECAC East Tournament Semifinals. She was named the ECAC East Co-Player of the Week for the week of February 11-17 after collecting six points on a pair of goals and four assists in two games.

Nasta transferred to UMass Boston this season from New England College, where she saw action in 17 games, while potting five goals and assisting on two others. For her career, she has played in 42 contests, while netting 24 goals and getting credit for 27 assists for 51 points. She has already placed herself among the all-time career leaders of the Beacon's five-year old women's hockey program, ranking sixth in points, fifth in goals, sixth in assists, fifth in game-winning goals and fourth in multi-point and multi-goal efforts.

Sousa becomes just the second player in school history to take ECAC East Rookie of the Year honors and the first since the program's inaugural season when Andrea Ciarletta (2003-07) was honored. She has helped to complement the UMass Boston offense this season and has been among the top rookies in the nation all season as well with 33 points on 13 goals and 20 assists in 25 games to rank second on the team in all categories. The freshman, who was named ECAC East Rookie of the Week a league-high three times, ranks third among all NCAA Division III rookies with 1.32 points per game and stands second among ECAC East freshman in total points, while placing 19th among all players in the country in points per game and eighth among ECAC East total points leaders. The right winger has shown an exceptional ability to distribute the puck, averaging 0.79 assists per outing to place 12th among the nation's leaders, while ranking fourth among league leaders in total assists. She has been a main component on the Beacons' power play with six power play scores to rank 15th in the country and sixth among ECAC East players and stands fifth in the league with 12 points (6-6-12) with the extra skater. A graduate of Woburn High School, she has also proven to be the difference with a pair of game-winning goals to rank 16th in ECAC East. Sousa enjoyed an 11-game point-scoring streak from January 12 to February 16 to tie for the longest such streak in school-history, while racking up 22 points and being arguably the team's most productive player during that stretch. A former member of the Chelmsford Lions junior hockey team, Sousa has notched at least one point in 17 of 25 contests, while racking up 11 multi-point efforts for the sixth-most in school annals. Her first season has been one of the best for a freshman in school history with her point, goal and assist totals all ranking as the third-highest for a freshman at UMB, while placing her ninth among all players for a season in points, sixth in assists and 10 in goals at UMass Boston. Sousa's power play goal total is the fourth most in a season at UMB as well. The forward can already be found among the team's career leaders with the fifth-most power play goals and multi-point efforts. She stands ninth on the career points and assists list and 10th on the goals scored ladder, while ranking sixth in multi-goal games and seventh in game-winning scores for the Beacons.

UMass Boston is currently 14-11-0 on the season, including 11-8-0 in ECAC East play and earned the second seed in the ECAC East post-season tournament with 22 points. The Beacons defeated Castleton State College, 5-1, on March 1 to advance to the ECAC East semifinals for the third straight season and will take on New England College at Playland Ice Casino in Rye, NY on Saturday, March 8 at 5:00 p.m. The winner will advance to the championship game, on Sunday, March 9 at 2:00 p.m., and take on the winner of top-seeded Manhattanville College and number five seed Salve Regina University.