Tying for the conference lead in both goals with nine and points with 22 during the 2012 season, Laura Kurash '13 (#8, photo) capped off her outstanding Wesleyan career with a NESCAC Player of the Year honor following the vote of the conference coaches. Kurash was been a NESCAC honoree each of her four years with steady progression along the way. As a freshman, she was named NESCAC Rookie of the Year as well as all-NESCAC second team. In both 2010 and 2011, Kurash was named a first-team all-NESCAC choice. Also in 2011, Kurash garnered first-team all-New England laurels from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and was a CoSIDA/Capital One District II academic All-American. She repeated both those honors in 2012. Of course, Kurash was a first-team all-NESCAC selection for the third straight year.
Always with a knack to score key goals for the Cardinals, Kurash ranks second all-time at Wesleyan for both goals with 37 and scoring points with 88. She has scored 15 game-winning goals in her career, a remarkable feat unto itself, but even more amazing when considering Wesleyan's record during the 54 contests in which Kurash played was 25-22-7. Thus, Kurash was responsible for the deciding goal in 60 percent of Wesleyan's victories.
Another tremendous tribute to Kurash's talent was her all-NESCAC second team and Rookie of the Year award in 2009. Kurash missed half the season that year after a collision with the Colby goaltender in Wesleyan's third game of the season. Returning to the lineup seven games later, she scored the game-winning goal in overtime against Bates, finishing with six goals and three assists in just eight games.
Qualifying for the NESCAC tournament each of the last four years, Wesleyan advanced to the NESCAC semifinals in both 2011 and 2012. Prior to that, Wesleyan fell in the first round in its other three trips to the NESCACs. This year, Wesleyan accomplished the nearly unheard of upset in the first round, traveling to top-seeded and 11th ranked nationally Middlebury, which had yielded just four goals in 14 games, and knocked off the Panthers, 2-0. Kurash had the insurance goal in the 81st minute.
Kurash joins a select group of Wesleyan athletes to received the coveted NESCAC Player of the Year award. Adam Purdy '13, the men's soccer team's four-year starting goalie, is the 2012 Player of the Year in his specialty. Only three other Cardinals have been Players of the Year since 2000. Lisa Drennan '09 was a two-time NESCAC Player of the Year in women's volleyball, earning the honor in both 2006 and 2008. Wesleyan's first NESCAC Player of the Year was John Landay '01 when he led the nation in scoring in men's lacrosse with 121 points as a senior. The following fall, Alexis Keeler '02 earned the distinction in women's volleyball.