Oct. 17, 2007
UCLA soccer players Mike Zaher and Valerie Henderson have been announced as finalists for the 2007 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. The award honors a male and female soccer player for their accomplishments both on and off the field. A nation-wide voting process will help determine the winner, and fans can vote online once a day until November 21 at www.seniorclassaward.com.
Zaher, a senior defender and UCLA team co-captain who hails from Las Vegas, NV (Bishop Gorman HS), is a pre-season All-American and 2006 all-region and all-conference performer. Last year, he led a young UCLA team to the NCAA Championship game and was voted UCLA's Defensive MVP for the season. Zaher has been very active in the community, participating in various community outreach events and fundraisers, including the 2005 UCLA Dance Marathon to benefit pediatric AIDS; the 2007 Soccer for Hope event to benefit pediatric cancer research; and "I'm Going To College," a collegiate community outreach effort. He has also participated in clinics for high-risk and disadvantaged youth and volunteered his time as a panelist at UCLA's Freshman Orientation this summer. Academically, he is a two-time Pac-10 All-Academic selection and holds a cumulative GPA of 3.435 in Political Science.
Henderson, a senior goalkeeper from Orinda, CA (Miramonte HS), is currently enjoying an outstanding season, helping the Bruins to a 9-1-2 overall record and the nation's No. 1 ranking for the last two weeks. She recently broke the school record for career shutouts, registering the 32nd of her career in a 1-0 victory over Oregon State on Oct. 12. Already UCLA's career win leader with 65, Henderson owns a 0.61 goals against average, good enough for third in the Pac-10. She has been a four-year starter for the Bruins, playing in the NCAA College Cup every year of her career. She is on pace to break the school record for goals against average, currently owning an 0.63 career mark. Henderson earned second-team NSCAA/adidas All-America honors in 2005 and was a member of the NSCAA/adidas Scholar All-American Team last season.
The men's finalists are: Evan Barnes (U.S. Naval Academy), Kevin Forrest (Washington), Trini Gomez (Loyola Marymount), Julius James (Connecticut), Tim Jepson (Duke), Stephen King (Maryland), Peter Lowry (Santa Clara), Brad Peetoom (Syracuse), Julian Valentine (Wake Forest) and Mike Zaher (UCLA).
The women's finalists are: Rachel Buehler (Stanford), Kelsey Carpenter (Texas), Joanna Haig (Louisville), Valerie Henderson (UCLA), Courtney Hooker (California), Stephanie Lopez (Portland), Ella Masar (Illinois), Jessica Maxwell (North Carolina), Lindsey Ozimek (Charlotte), Angie Woznuk (Portland).
These finalists will be placed on the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award ballot for a nationwide vote beginning October 17 and concluding November 21. Fan balloting, available on the award's official website, www.seniorclassaward.com, will be combined with votes from coaches, media and sponsors to determine the recipient of the award.
Winners will be announced during the NCAA Soccer Championships, scheduled on December 7-9 in College Station, Texas, for women and December 14-16 in Cary, N.C. for men. The Lowe's All-Senior All- America Team will also be recognized.
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the award was launched during the 2001-02 season in response to the trend of college basketball players leaving college early to turn professional. The award is presented annually in eight NCAA Division I sports to a senior student-athlete who excels both on and off the field. Finalists were selected from a list of 20 candidates in each division, based on personal qualities that define a complete student-athlete. While the on-field performance thus far during the college soccer season was a factor in determining the finalists, the criteria also includes a large emphasis on the classroom, character and community service.