It was one of the best ways that senior Katelyn Orlando could top off her already stellar career for the UMass Amherst field hockey team.
Having already won Athlete of the Week honors for the Division 1 college two times in her career, and being a part of two Atlantic 10 championship squads, Orlando was recently enshrined with one of the top individual honors in the Atlantic 10 Conference — Offensive Player of the Year.
Orlando, a Manchester native and graduate of Manchester Essex High School, powered the Minutewoman offense, scoring a team-leading 15 goals. UMass finished its season with a 17-5 record, won the Atlantic 10 Conference and was ranked No. 17 in the country. The team made it as far as the national quarterfinals, where they fell to Syracuse, 3-2, on Saturday.
"This entire season has been unbelievable," Orlando said. "The award was actually unexpected. There are a lot of great scorers in the conference and it's an honor to be seen as one of the top scorers."
Although she won the conference's top individual honor, Orlando says the most memorable moment of the season was winning the Atlantic 10 Conference. The Minutewomen knocked off Richmond in the semifinals and St. Joseph's in the finals. Orlando also noted that the team's 2-1 win over Temple in a stroke off to clinch the regular season title was another big moment of the season. Orlando had a goal in regulation and a goal in the stroke off in the team's win.
"I have never been a part of a game where it has gone past double overtime," Orlando said. "It was a crazy game with such a unique ending. It was also nice to knock off one of our biggest rivals.
"Winning the Atlantic 10 tournament was even better. We were expected to be a rebuilding team this season because we lost six starters, but we proved everybody wrong. It was unbelievable knowing that our hard work paid off."
Orlando says her biggest strength as a player is her ability to get to the net. She attributes her goal-scoring abilities to hard work and desire.
Even though she led the team in goals, Orlando is still quick to give a lot of credit to her teammates.
"A lot of my goals come from being in the right place in the right time," Orlando said. "You definitely have to be able to finish and you have to work hard to get to the net, but I have a lot of support. Somebody has to bring the ball up the field and make that key pass, I rely on my teammates."
While she is honored to win such a prestigious award, Orlando says her team's success is what she will remember most.
"Sure the individual honors are great," Orlando said. "But what I will remember most is the success of the team."
Nick Curcuru can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.