Crafty captain Kate Barber (West Chester, Pa.) and high-scoring forward Pat Harris (Moorpark, Calif.) have earned USA Field Hockey's Athlete of the Year honors for 2007.
The award is the fourth consecutive and fifth overall honor for Barber who previously collected USA Field Hockey's top individual award in 2006, 2005, 2004 and 2002. Harris also is a multi-time recipient of the men's award after earning the honor in 2005.
Concluding her tenth year as a member of the U.S. National Team, Barber captained the USA to a second place finish at the Pan American Games in 2007 as the team prepares for its Olympic Qualifying Tournament in 2008.
"Kate Barber is playing the best hockey in her career to this point," said women's head coach Lee Bodimeade on the Barber's 2007 performance. "She has been able to achieve this against the top six nations in the world and is now truly focused on Olympic Qualification and then success in Beijing. The leader of the team and the player that all the members of our squad focus on emulating, no one would doubt her ranking as the best player in the USA National Team."
In addition to the silver medal at the Pan American Games, Barber helped lead the USA to the championship at the Chile 4 Nation Tournament including a 1-0 victory over World No. 2-ranked Argentina in the championship game. Barber also sparked the USA to a 2-0 win over No.1-ranked Netherlands for the USA's first victory over the Dutch since 1996.
Concluding her tenth year as a member of the national team, Barber has competed in a team-leading 183 international matches. She has played in three Pan American Games and three World Cups during her career and will seek her first trip to the Olympic Games when the USA competes in the WorldHockey Olympic Qualifying Tournament, 19-26 April 2008 in Kazan, Russia. The USA women will need to win the six-team tournament to qualify for the Olympic Games.
On the men's side, Harris earned his second USA Field Hockey Athlete of the Year honor as the 22-year-old forward continues to emerge as one of the world's top goal scorers.
"Pat provides us with a potent attacking threat moving forward and the ability to effectively shut down any opponent," said U.S. coach Nick Conway. "His combination of speed, finesse and skill is extraordinary at times. He is a rare breed in that he is capable of executing high level skills with what appears to be consummate ease. He makes the unbelievable believable, indeed expected.
Harris ranked second in goals scored at the Pan American Games with eight goals and was named to the Pan American Elite Team for his performance. The USA placed 7th at the Pan Am Games.
In addition, Harris scored 10 goals in a five-game series against Trinidad & Tobago and was named the USA's "Man of the Series" to conclude the year.
"Pat's ability to score goals is predatory," said Conway. "He places extremely high standards on himself both when shooting and flicking penalty corners and has proven to be more then capable against any caliber of opposition. He is without question the rarest and most gifted player that I have had the privilege of Coaching."
Domestically, Harris helped lead the Moorpark High Performance Center to back-to-back National Championships and ranked as the top goal scorer at the National Championships with eight goals.
A starter on the U.S. National Team since the age of 15, Harris has appeared in 48 international matches and has scored 37 international goals.
Harris and the USA men will look to earn an Olympic berth of their own when they compete at the WorldHockey Olympic Qualifying Tournament 2-10 February 2008 in Auckland, New Zealand. The U.S. men must win the six-team tournament to qualify for Beijing.
Source: USA Field Hockey
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