Oct. 6, 2011
Junior Jannis Opalka of men's soccer and senior Ashleigh Barone of women's soccer have been selected as the first Leo Dufort Student-Athletes of the Month of the current school year, representing September. The two soccer standouts have shined both athletically and academically during their times at Siena.
A three-year starter from Stade, Germany, Opalka has appeared in 34 career games, including starting all nine to this point in the season. He assisted on the game-winning goal against UAlbany, and has held together a defensive front that has allowed just one goal per contest. A MAAC All-Academic Team selection as a sophomore, Opalka has compiled an amazing 3.94 cumulative GPA while majoring in Marketing and Management.
Meanwhile, Barone, a senior from nearby Clifton Park, N.Y., has rewritten the Siena women's soccer record book in her final year on campus. With her game-winning goal against Quinnipiac, Barone became the program's leader in career goals, points, and game-winning goals. She leads the Saints with four goals in nine games, and has three of Siena's five game-winners. A Psychology major, she carries a 3.33 cumulative GPA, and is a two-time MAAC All-Academic Team selection.
The Leo Dufort Student-Athlete of the Month Award is presented nine times annually (September-May) throughout the academic year. The award recognizes exemplary achievements in both academics and athletics. The late Leo Dufort received a B.S. in marketing and management from Siena in August of 1977. His entire academic career was completed on a part-time basis beginning in the spring of 1961, as a married adult while at the same time raising five children. He passed away suddenly of a heart attack while cross country skiing in February of 1993. His wife Jeanine wanted to do something to immortalize his memory. The original plaque was donated to athletics and the department began the Leo Dufort Student-Athlete of the Month Award to help carry out his legacy. Dufort graduated from Catholic Central High School in 1954, was a Navy Veteran (USS Bennington) who worked for JL Hammett Co. at the time of his death.