Boiago Becomes First Marauder Named National Player of the Year

History was made Wednesday in Victoria, as Danielle Boiago, who has spent her career laying waste to the McMaster record books, did what no Marauder before her had done.

The senior guard was confirmed as the winner of the Nan Copp Award as U SPORTS Player of the Year at the All-Canadian Banquet, becoming the first McMaster player in program history to win the national honour.

“Danielle added improvements to her game at both ends of the court in every year of her career,” said McMaster head coach Theresa Burns. “What we see now is the result of her pure passion for the game and unbelievable work ethic: a complete player, a special player who can dominate in almost every statistical category.

“She has been a consummate leader and I’m so thrilled that she is being recognized in this way.”

Boiago was joined on the award podium Wednesday by teammate Vanessa Pickard, who became the second Marauder to win the Tracy McLeod Award for her outstanding perseverance in the face of adversity.

Signalling her immense potential in her rookie season, Boiago won the OUA West Rookie of the Year Award in 2013 and was named to the U SPORTS All-Rookie Team in the process. She has been an OUA all-star in each of her four subsequent seasons, reaching the Second Team in 2014, and cracking the First Team for three consecutive years.

In 2017, she became just the fourth player to win both the OUA Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year awards, and the first Marauder to accomplish the feat. Boiago was the first McMaster player to win Player of the Year since Lindsay Degroot repeated as the winner of the OUA West honour in 2007 and 2008, and the first Mac winner of the Defensive Player of the Year since Rachel Hart in 2008.

Boiago’s rate of 25.5 points per 40 minutes was the highest in the OUA this season, while her totals of 81 assists and 51 three-pointers ranked third in the conference.

She completed her regular season career as McMaster’s all-time leading scorer, with a total of 1,719 points that ranks third in OUA history. She also topped the program’s record book with 250 steals, and finished second in assists (297) and third in rebounds (603).

In addition to her Player of the Year status, Boiago was named as a First Team All-Canadian for the second consecutive season.

Pickard began her career with the St. Francis Xavier X-Women, being named the U SPORTS Rookie of the Year in her first year with the program in 2012. Following an injury-plagued sophomore season, Pickard played her junior year with the X-Women before deciding to sit out and finish her undergraduate degree.

Accepting entry into McMaster’s Master of Kinesiology program in 2015, Pickard returned to the court for her fourth year, joining the Marauders. But a knee injury suffered in non-conference play forced the guard to miss the entirety of the regular season and playoff schedule.

Due to return in the fall of 2016, Pickard suffered a string of setbacks that held her out of the lineup until the Christmas break, when she returned to help the Marauders to a title at the Thunder Selects tournament in Halifax. She completed the OUA regular season with 12 appearances and displayed her offensive efficiency, posting an average of 23.8 points per 40 minutes that ranked fourth in the conference.

“Vanessa is such a mature individual,” said Burns. “She focuses on what she can control and puts 100 per cent effort into the process. She was so positive and provided such great leadership to her teammates even when she was sidelined. When she came back, she hardly missed a beat, which is a testament to her high IQ and talent. I admire her courage and perseverance very much.”

Pickard becomes the second Marauder to claim the Tracy McLeod Award, joining alumna Rachel Hart, who was honoured in 2008.

Source: Fraser Caldwell

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