The NCAA award, first presented in 1999 as the Outstanding Sports Persons of the Year Award, honors student-athletes who, through their actions in the competitive arena of intercollegiate athletics, have demonstrated one or more of the ideals of sportsmanship, including fairness, civility, honesty, unselfishness, respect and responsibility. The award was renamed the NCAA Sportsmanship Award in 2001.
Scutari was nominated because of an incident in a game on March 14, 2009, when she was able to maintain her focus and calm after a physical and dangerous play that allowed the Eagles to maintain possession of the ball in the final seconds of the game and claim a 10-9 victory.
Scutari secured a loose ball in front of the UMW goal after an opponent turnover in the final 33 seconds of the game. The opponent swung her stick, hitting Scutari in the back of both legs and knocking her to the ground. The opponent was disqualified from the game, and UMW was able to hold on to the ball and the one goal win.
Following the game, the game officials told Mary Washington coach Dana Hall that players tend to retaliate in that situation. The officials were impressed that Scutari calmly got up, brushed herself off and set about the task of preparing to get the ball out of the defensive end of the field to protect the lead and the win.
“I am proud of Ashley’s ability to stay calm under extreme physical pain and play through an unsportsmanlike act, maintaining her mental toughness,” Hall said.
Scutari, who started all 22 games for the 2009 Eagles and contributed one goal, 35 ground balls, 25 draw controls and 14 caused turnovers, was a leader of the UMW squad, that included more 11 freshmen on a 21-member team. The Eagles finished with a 14-8 overall record, advanced to the CAC Championship game after placing third in the regular season and earned an at-large bid to the 2009 NCAA Championship Tournament.