CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (UI Release) - This morning, the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) released their NCAA Division I All-American awards as Illini leading scorer Vanessa DiBernardo was named Third-Team All-American for her 2012 performance. All the student athletes will be recognized Jan. 19 at the annual All-American Luncheon, held in conjunction with the 2013 NSCAA Convention in Indianapolis.
DiBernardo earns her second straight NSCAA All-American award after receiving Second-Team honors a season ago. She becomes only the second Illini to accomplish this feat, tying the all-time leading scorer in Illinois history Tara Hurless, who won in both 2003 and 2004. In addition, it is the ninth overall All-American honor bestowed by the NSCAA to Illinois, with previous winners including Emily Zurrer, Christen Karniski, Ella Masar, Emily Brown and current assistant coach Leisha Alcia.
Vanessa started the season Sept. 16 when the Orange and Blue started Big Ten play. In her first shot of the game, DiBernardo scored the game-winner in a 1-0 win over Iowa. On Oct. 4, the junior netted her second career hat-trick in the 3-2 win over Michigan St. DiBernardo concluded conference play by scoring at least one goal in the final three games, that included the program's first win in Ann Arbor.
After picking up a couple of assists in the Big Ten Tournament that helped the Illini secure dramatic wins over Minnesota and No. 3 Penn State, the Orange and Blue went on to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament where they bowed out against North Carolina.
Vanessa finished with 21 points in her junior campaign. Her now career total of 87 points ranks third in Illinois history, behind Emily Brown's 108 and Tara Hurless' 115.
DiBernardo can add her NSCAA Third-Team All-American honor to the other awards she has won this past season which include: the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List, two Big Ten offensive player of the weeks, All-Big Ten Tournament, First-Team All-Big Ten, Top Drawer Soccer Second-Team All-Upperclassmen, Soccer News Net College Boot Award Nominee and U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year Finalist.
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