Lenoir-Rhyne's Neibergall, Queens's Oliveira Named SAC Soccer Scholar-Athletes of the Year

Lenoir-Rhyne's Neibergall, Queens's Oliveira Named SAC Soccer Scholar-Athletes of the Year

ROCK HILL, S.C. (TheSAC.com) – Lenoir-Rhyne's Claire Neibergall was voted the South Atlantic Conference women's soccer Scholar-Athlete of the Year, while Queens's Pedro Oliveira earned the men's honor, the Conference office announced today.

The South Atlantic Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year award is presented annually to one student-athlete in each of the Conference's championship sports, and is voted on by the SAC's Faculty Athletic Representatives Committee. The winners are selected based on their achievements in academics, athletics, service, and leadership.

Neibergall, a senior pursuing a degree in computer science, has a 3.764 grade point average. In the past two seasons, the Springfield, Ill. native has started every game for the Bears, collecting first-team All-SAC honors in 2018. She was fifth on the team with three goals coming from the defensive end, including a game-winner.

"Claire is everything that a coach looks for in a student-athlete," said Lenoir-Rhyne's head women's soccer coach Gary Higgins. "She is a model of consistency and professionalism, on and off the field, and it has been an absolute pleasure being a part of her journey here at Lenoir-Rhyne. We are very proud of her and she fully deserves this award".

Off the pitch, Neibergall has made an immense impact in the community and the classroom. She has been named to the Dean's List four times and to the President's List twice, in addition to being named to the NCAA Division II Scholar All-South Region Team.  She is a member of several student organizations, including Chi Alpha Sigma, the Broyhill Leadership Academy, the math club, and the Lenoir-Rhyne Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

She has volunteered her time throughout the community working with the Eagles Practice Soccer Club, the Catawba Youth Soccer Association, and the Humane Society of Catawba County. Neibergall also volunteers on campus serving as a math and computer science tutor, working with Computer Science Outreach, and volunteering at the soup kitchen with Chi Alpha Sigma.

Oliveira, a senior, has a 3.86 GPA and is majoring in psychology. A native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the defender has had an impressive career with the Royals, particularly in 2018. Starting every game, Oliveira scored three goals and tallied one assist, while leading the team in minutes played with 1,377. A team-leading 80 percent of his shots were on-goal. He was honored as the SAC AstroTurf Defensive Player of the Week on October 23,  and was selected to the All-Conference first-team.

"Pedro is an outstanding leader for our program, university and community," said Queens head men's soccer coach Oliver Carias. "He exemplifies the true meaning of a successful student-athlete at the collegiate level. It has been a privilege to have the opportunity to watch Pedro succeed in the classroom, on the field, and in our community".

Oliveira has also been successful off of the pitch. A two-time Dean's List honoree in the classroom, he served the community as well. Oliveira worked as a summer teacher to children from less affluent neighborhoods in Charlotte alongside Freedom School Partners. He volunteers at ISL Charlotte soccer camp, working eight Sundays as a volunteer coach. Oliveira trained for the English as a Second Language (ESL) program, hosted by Forest Hill Church and the Harris YMCA.

Women's Soccer Scholar-Athlete Finalists

Anne Kate Hodge, Anderson

Holly Talbut-Smith, Carson-Newman

Taylor Hunkele, Queens

Erica Pacello, Wingate

Men's Soccer Scholar-Athlete Finalists

Jhon Vaca, Anderson

Twan Verweij, Carson-Newman

Victor Cascon, Lenoir-Rhyne

Pablo Jara, Wingate

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