Russo, Spital claim UAA Athlete of the Week honors, Sept. 10

Lee Russo '13 and Dara Spital '15 (photos by Sportspix.biz)

WALTHAM, Mass. – In leading their respective teams to a total of five wins and scoring nine between them, Brandeis senior Lee Russo of Westford, Mass., and Dara Spital of Miami, Fla., were named the University Athletic Association Men’s and Women’s Soccer Player of the Week for Sept. 10.

Russo helped the 23rd-ranked Brandeis men to a 3-0 week by scoring five goals and contributing three assists. He opened the week with a goal and an assist in a 7-0 rout of Colby-Sawyer College on Sept. 5. In a 4-2 win over Clark University on Sept. 8, Russo was in on three of the Judges’ four first-half goals, scoring the first goal in the 12th minute and assisting 23rd- and 37th-minute tallies.

Russo saved the best for last, however, registering his second career hat trick in a 4-3 overtime victory over MIT on Sep. 9. He opened the scoring in 29th minute with a penalty kick goal and added the game’s second goal in the 62nd minute. The Judges led, 3-1, after a goal in the 77th minute, but MIT scored twice in a span of 3:28 to tie the game at 3-3 with just over 10 minutes left in regulation. Early in the extra session, Brandeis earned a free kick just outside the 18-yard box, and Russo curled it over the outstretched arms of the Engineer goalkeeper for the game-winner.

With his 13 points on the week, Russo moved into 13th on Brandeis's career scoring list with 67 points and 11th with 27 goals. Overall this season, Russo leads the UAA with seven goals and 17 points. At 5-0, The Judges are off to their best start since 2006 and are nationally-ranked by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America for the first time in more than a decade.

Spital, a transfer from Division I Central Florida, scored four of the six goals for the Brandeis women last week, including both game-winners in a 2-0 week. Spital scored in 12th and 47th minutes of a 4-0 win over Roger Williams University on Sept. 5. On Sept. 8, in a 2-0 win over 23rd-ranked Springfield College, Spital scored both goals for the Judges. She opened the scoring in the 31st minute when she knocked home a goal from her back during a mad scramble in front of the net. In the second half, she converted a nice through ball in the 79th minute to give Brandeis some breathing room.

Through two weeks of the season, Spital leads UAA with 5 goals and 13 points and is tied for league lead with 3 assists. The Judges are 4-0, putting them two wins shy of their win total from 2011. With four shutouts, they have already matched their output from last season.

Russo is a 2009 graduate of Westford Academy. He is the son of Joseph and Mary Russo, Westford, Mass.

Spital is a 2011 graduate of Gulliver Preparatory School. She is the daughter of Michael and Jeanne Spital, Miami, Fla.

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