Mount St. Dominic Academy Celebrates Senior Athletes with Prestigious Lions Paw Awards

Mount St. Dominic Academy Celebrates Senior Athletes with Prestigious Lions Paw Awards

Mount St. Dominic Academy Celebrates Senior Athletes with Prestigious Lions Paw Awards


Pictured here are the 2024 Mount Lady Lion's Paw Awards recipients: Back row, from left: Izzy Rivera (Bloomfield), Sara Tortoriello (West Caldwell), Riley Merklinger (Sparta), Kaitlyn Ferrris (Firfield), Erin Araneta (West Orange), Rebecca Hess (Cedar Grove), Naya Martinez (Lyndhurst), and Erin Murphy (Rutherford). Front row, from left: Anna Cacciacarne (Randolph), and Gianna Stern (Bloomfield).


Caldwell, NJ – Recently, Mount St. Dominic Academy honored its senior athletes at the annual Lions Paw Awards Senior Athletic Dinner, celebrating exceptional achievements and outstanding character in sports. The event, held at Hanover Manor on May 29th, was attended by over 30 senior athletes along with their families, coaches, and school administrators.

The Lion's Paw Awards underscore the Mount’s commitment to fostering not only athletic excellence but also the personal and ethical development of its students. Each recipient has demonstrated qualities that go beyond physical skills, including leadership, integrity, and a commitment to the community. "These awards reflect the ethos of our athletic program and our school’s mission to develop well-rounded individuals," said Mount Athletic Director Lorenzo Sozio. "We are incredibly proud of all our senior athletes who have shown resilience, spirit, and sportsmanship throughout their high school careers."

This year’s ceremony was particularly special as it introduced two new awards: the "Coach ‘On The Field’ Award" and the "Iron Woman Award," each recognizing unique aspects of athletic dedication and leadership.

The "Coach ‘On The Field’ Award" was presented to Izzy Rivera of Bloomfield, who will be studying Finance and Accounting at Salve Regina University with aspirations of becoming a social worker. Known for her dedication and leadership, Izzy has been instrumental in mentoring younger players at the Mount and ensuring smooth team operations.

The "Iron Woman Award" was shared by Sara Tortoriello of West Caldwell, who will major in Finance at the University of Richmond, and Riley Merklinger of Sparta, who has been committed to continue her athletic career in track and field at Loyola University Maryland. Both athletes have earned 10 varsity letters during their time at the Mount, showcasing their versatility and commitment.

Kaitlyn Ferris of Fairfield, who will be attending Bucknell University as a Biology major on the Pre-Health track, received the Christian Values Award. Kaitlyn is recognized for embodying Christian values in both her athletic performance and personal conduct, serving as an inspiration and model of integrity.

Erin Araneta of West Orange, this year’s Class of 2024 Valedictorian and future Diplomacy and International Relations major at Seton Hall University, received the Scholar Athlete Award. Erin exemplifies the true spirit of a scholar-athlete, excelling academically while leading on the sports field.

The Sportsmanship Award went to Rebecca Hess of Cedar Grove, who will join Colgate University as a Psychology Major and has been committed to continue her tennis career there. Rebecca is celebrated for her exemplary conduct in competition, demonstrating fairness and respect for her competitors.

Naya Martinez of Lyndhurst, who is committed to play softball at Seton Hall University, received the Best Teammate Award. Naya is recognized for her compassion and dedication, making her an invaluable team member.

Erin Murphy, of Rutherford, who will be attending Syracuse University as a History major, received the Leadership Award for her natural ability to guide her team towards common goals, exemplifying leadership qualities that motivate and inspire her teammates. 

The Outstanding Athlete Award was presented to Anna Cacciacarne of Randolph, who is committed to compete in Track and Field at Lafayette College while studying Government & Law and Foreign Languages, and Gianna Stern of Bloomfield, who will play softball at Monmouth University. Both have significantly contributed to their team’s successes through exceptional athletic performance.

The annual awards dinner not only celebrates the accomplishments of individual athletes but also strengthens the bonds within the Mount community, leaving lasting memories for the departing seniors.

About Mount St. Dominic: Mount St. Dominic Academy, established by the Sisters of St. Dominic, is an independent, Catholic college preparatory school dedicated to the education of young women from a variety of ethnic, religious, and economic backgrounds. Located in the heart of bucolic Caldwell, New Jersey, the Mount has been empowering young women in the Dominican tradition since 1892. Mount St. Dominic Academy is a proud member of the New Jersey Association of Independent Schools, the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), the International Coalition of Girls Schools, the Dominican Association of Secondary Schools, the National Catholic Educational Association, and the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Visit the Mount for more information.

MSDA 2023-24 Highlights: The Mount earned many accolades during the 2023-2024 school year. MSDA is a recipient of the 2024 College Board AP® Computer Science Female Diversity Award for its outstanding achievement in fostering high female representation in both AP Computer Science A (CSA) and AP Computer Science Principles (CSP), the 2023 Best of Essex Gold Medal in the "Best in Private School” category, and has been named a Niche A+ 2024 Best School, which is only achieved by 2.5% of schools in the country. In addition, the Mount boasts an award-winning Performing Arts Program, and The Mount's Lady Lions Soccer team won the 2023 Super Essex North, Non-Public A Liberty Division Conference, and the Varsity Softball team recorded a record 11th consecutive Essex County Tournament win in 2024.


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