Suffolk University Women's Soccer senior Leslie Hayden (Ross, Calif.) was named Offensive Player of the Year for the 2011 season by the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC). Hayden also earned first team All-Conference honors by the league.
The senior forward wraps up a historic career for the Rams as she finishes her four year stint at Suffolk University as the all-time leading scorer in GNAC history with 176 career points. In 66 career games played Hayden scored 73 goals along with 30 assists. Her 2.67 points per game average is the third best average ever among GNAC scorers, while her 1.1 goals per game average throughout her four year career is ranked fourth. She has scored 14 game-winning goals over the past four seasons and has registered a hat trick in nine of those contests.
On Saturday October 29, 2011 Hayden scored her 173rd career point which eclipsed the previous league mark of 171 as the senior forward struck in the GNAC Quarterfinals for the contest's lone goal in a 1-0 victory over Johnson & Wales University.
Hayden had a career year as a senior leading the conference in goals with 22, while tallying a league best 51 points. Hayden recorded six game-winning goals during the season, two of which came during the GNAC Tournament as she helped lead the Rams to the conference finals. She also registered three hat tricks on the year. Hayden's surge throughout the GNAC has landed her among the top scorers in all of NCAA Division-III Women's Soccer. As of November 6 she ranks ninth with a 1.22 goals per game average, and ranks tenth in both total goals (22) and points per game (2.78). Her six game winning goals this year also place her among the top ten in that category as well.
Hayden has been recognized by the Great Northeast Athletic Conference as an all-conference selection in all four of her years at Suffolk. In 2008 she was named GNAC Rookie of the Year. As a freshman and sophomore she was also named to the GNAC All-Sportsmanship team, an honor that was voted by her teammates. She has also served as a team captain the past three seasons.
A highly skilled and talented forward, Hayden has earned the respect of her peers, coaches and everyone who has followed her at Suffolk.
Women's Soccer Head Coach Ernst Cleophat will look back fondly on what Hayden has achieved and how she has helped develop the program to go along with her notable accomplishments. "Leslie is an extremely talented athlete with speed, agility, and athletic ability to get to the ball. She has led her team to two back to back successful seasons - 2010 GNAC Regular Season Champions in our fourth year as a varsity program and this year leading us all the way to the GNAC finals with her scoring touch. Her breakaway technique was great. I don't know when or where the next player of her caliber will surface. She is indeed something special to watch on the soccer pitch. It has been a great pleasure to have known and coached Ms. Leslie Hayden."
GNAC defenses have had a hard time containing Hayden since her freshman season in 2008. On October 15, 2011 she registered her 42nd career goal in GNAC contests, a new league record, while she finishes her career with a 106 points in conference games, the second highest total in that category. During the 2011 season she registered 30 points in league games, the seventh highest total in the conference's history. Thirteen of her 22 goals this year also came in conference games, the fifth highest total.
During her freshman campaign of 2008 she was tied for the GNAC lead with 17 goals, while her 37 points was the top total in the conference. In GNAC games that year Hayden scored 13 times, which ties for the fifth most all-time in a season for league totals. Three of her 17 goals that year were game-winners for the Rams.
Hayden's sophomore year of 2009 marked the first time she would reach the 20-goal plateau for a season and she became the eleventh player in conference history to do so. Her 1.33 goals per game average was ranked 7th best among all NCAA Division-III players for that season. The highlight of the season came on October 14, 2009 in a non-conference matchup against Mass. Maritime Academy as she scored six times in a Suffolk victory becoming just the 21st player in Division-III history to score at least six goals in one game.
As a junior Hayden in 2010 made the transition from scorer to playmaker. With an influx of talented freshmen forwards, Hayden was asked to switch positions moving her back to midfield. She responded by setting the GNAC single-season record for assists in league play with 14. She finished the season with 14 goals and 17 assists a total of 45 points, a career-high. She ranked second among all NCAA Division-III players with the 17 assist total and was ranked 20th among all scorers with a 2.65 points per game average. The results helped as the Rams finished the season with a 13-4-1 overall record and earned the program's first postseason appearance into the ECAC Division-III New England Tournament. They also compiled the best regular season record in the GNAC with a 12-2 mark.
On October 25, 2010 Hayden became the eighth player in GNAC history to reach the 50-goal milestone doing so in just her 45th career game played.
In four seasons with the Rams Hayden started all 66 Suffolk Women's Soccer contests.
Suffolk finished the 2011 regular season with an 11-8-1 overall record. They reached the GNAC Conference finals for their first time in program history before falling to the Lasers on November 5, 2-1. Hayden had an assist on Suffolk's lone goal of that game as she registered five points through the Rams' three-game playoff stretch.
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