It’s been a magical year on the pitch for Kayla Saager.
In her first season at Binghamton University as a member of the Bearcats women’s soccer team, the East Islip native has been an offensive force for a team that is 2017 co-America East regular season champions two years after winning only three games.
“I couldn’t be prouder of my team with how hard they worked before and during the season and proving the pre-season predictions wrong about us,” Saager told SleterFC.com. “Everyone doubted this team and now look at us and we’re not done yet. I couldn’t be prouder to be a Bearcat!”
Saager, for her efforts, has been named the America East Striker of the Year after leading the conference in goals, assists and points, and is also the team’s only first team all-conference selection.
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“Being named AE striker of the year is such an honor and I couldn’t be happier to have won this award, but really I wouldn’t have been able to get this award if it wasn’t for my teammates,” Saager said. “Without them being able to get me the ball and help set up plays I would not have won this award.”
She continued, “I also would like to thank my coaching staff for all they have done for me. Whether it’s going out before or after practice helping me on my technique and all the film and different ideas we had to help me become the best possible player.”
Saager, who has battled several knee injuries since her days as a middle schooler in East Islip, also thanked her family and friends for their support.
“They believed in me from the beginning through my entire soccer career and never gave up on me even when there were possibilities I would never play soccer again,” she said.
Saager ranks 14th in the country in points (11 goals/7 assists/29 points) and has the third-highest scoring output in the program’s 17-year Division I history. Saager also has points in all but three of Binghamton’s matches this season.
Wearing No. 44 for the Bearcats, Saager’s seemingly cumbersome brace on her left knee is quite noticeable but has done little to slow her play. After sitting out a season after transferring from West Virginia, Saager’s 1,597 minutes of playing time this season is a testament to her ability to overcome multiple knee injuries.
After graduating from East Islip High School, the first stop of her collegiate career was at North Carolina State, where despite playing only 12 games, she led the team in goals (5) and points (11). After only one season, she would transfer to West Virginia where a knee injury limited her to only three games.
Saager’s teammate, Katie Hatziyianis of Massapequa, was named to the America East All-Academic Team. The goalkeeper had an 8-3-3 record in 14 appearances this season with four clean sheets.