Nov. 8, 2011
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. – Patriot League Tournament teams Colgate and Lehigh were the big winners when the All-Patriot League Team and major awards were announced Tuesday morning by the League office. The Raiders and Mountain Hawks tied with five selections apiece on the 22-member squad, while both picked up a pair of Major Awards.
Voting was conducted by the eight head men’s soccer coaches in the League who could not cast a ballot for themselves or their own student-athletes. The team is normally comprised of 11 student-athletes on the First Team and 11 on the Second, but due to a tie in the voting, there are 12 on the First Team in 2011.
Colgate senior Steven Miller was named Offensive Player of the Year, while freshman teammate Jimmy McLaughlin was honored as the Rookie of the Year. Lehigh’s two major award winners were senior Kevin Strunk as Defensive Player of the Year and sophomore Ciaran Nugent as Goalkeeper of the Year.
The tournament’s host and No. 1 seed American was next with four All-League honorees and one major award winner. Twelfth-year head coach Todd West was named Coach of the Year for the third time overall and first since 2008.
Miller closed the regular season leading the Patriot League in goals (11) and points (23). After netting the League’s first hat trick of the season last week at Harvard, Miller moved into a tie for fourth on the Colgate all-time list and tied for ninth in League annals with 26 career markers. He was also big for Colgate during League play, scoring three goals and adding an assist for seven points in seven matches. His goal and point totals are tied for the top spot in both categories during League competition. Miller is Colgate’s third Offensive Player of the Year and first since Eric Anton in 2007.
Strunk was named Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season and was the preseason choice heading into 2011. He is the first back-to-back honoree since Bucknell’s Michael Lookingland in 2003-04, is the third to win the award in consecutive years and the fourth two-time winner. He currently sits third on the Mountain Hawks in goals (three) and points (seven), with all three of his markers serving as game-winners. The senior has been one of Lehigh’s top defenders for the last two seasons, helping anchor a Mountain Hawk defense that surrendered a League-low eight goals in 17 matches and tied for the most team shutouts with 10. Strunk was the unanimous choice for Defensive Player of the Year.
Nugent was the primary beneficiary of Lehigh’s typically stingy defense, as he ranked at or near the top of the League in several goalkeeping categories all season. The sophomore finished the regular season with the League’s best goals-against average (0.44) and a League-high 10 shutouts and is second with a .889 save percentage while tying for second with 64 total saves. His 10 clean sheets are tied for fifth on the League’s single-season list and are three shy of the record. Nugent is Lehigh’s first Goalkeeper of the Year since the award was first introduced in 2004.
McLaughlin has played in all 19 of Colgate’s matches so far this season and tied for third on the Raiders with five points (1g, 3a). A three-time BRINE/Patriot League Rookie of the Week, McLaughlin started out by scoring his team’s first goal of the season, which wound up as the game-winner in Colgate’s season-opening 1-0 win over Syracuse. He is the fourth from Colgate to be named Rookie of the Year and first since Mike Reidy in 2009.
West collected his 100th career victory earlier this season and guided American to a 5-2-0 mark in the Patriot League and the No. 1 seed in the tournament that starts Friday. It’s the fourth year in a row the Eagles are in the League’s four-team playoff and eighth overall. They’re hosting for the first time since 2005. West has helped lead American to the Patriot League title match each of the last two seasons and has posted a 5-3-4 all-time mark in tournament contests.
In addition to his major award, Miller was named First-Team All-League at attack and is joined in the top 12 of the squad by classmate Mike Reese at midfield and junior Patrick Letourneau on defense. Junior midfielder Shane Conlin and junior goalkeeper Grant Reed were named to the Second Team. Reese was one of the Raiders’ strongest contributors in the middle of the field and also scored at opportune times. His only two goals on the year are game-winners. Letourneau garnered BRINE Defensive Player of the Week honors twice this season, while Conlin sits second on the Raiders in goals (four) and points (10). Reed played over 1,600 minutes in 19 appearances with an 8-4-4 mark, posting a .766 save percentage and a 0.62 GAA with seven shutouts.
Like Colgate, Lehigh placed three student-athletes on the All-League First Team. Joining Nugent and Strunk is senior midfielder Neal Melchionni, who is tied for the team lead with four goals and sits second with nine points. Two of his markers won games, and he went a perfect 1-for-1 on penalty kicks. Senior attacker Joe Puleo and junior defender Cameron Omsberg were both named to the Second Team by the head coaches. Puleo posted a three-point night in Lehigh’s 3-0 victory Saturday over Army to lift the Mountain Hawks into the League Tournament and is tied with a team-high four goals and owns the outright team lead with 10 points. Omsberg, like Strunk, has been a defensive stalwart for coach Dean Koski’s club, and also contributed a goal and an assist for three points in 16 matches.
American placed a League-high four on the First Team. Junior attack Alassane Kane earned First-Team laurels after finishing the regular season in the League’s top 10 in goals (six), assists (three) and points (15). He is the Eagles’ leading scorer. Classmates Ryan Morales and Adem Gokturk were named to the First Team as well, along with sophomore Cristobal Soto. Morales, a midfielder, has three assists on the season, while defenders Gokturk and Soto have provided stellar work in front of the Eagles’ net. American’s defense contributed to four shutouts and a 0.57 GAA in League play.
Bucknell, which missed out on the Patriot League Tournament after winning it the last two years, has three All-League selections with one of the First Team. Sophomore defender Mayowa Alli, last season’s Rookie of the Year, led the Bison and is knotted for second in the League with seven goals and 16 points in 2011, with most of his offense coming off set pieces. Junior forward Brendan Burgdorf, the preseason pick for Offensive Player of the Year, and senior midfielder Luke Joyner were named to the Second Team. Burgdorf finished third on the team with 10 points (2g, 6a) while Joyner posted a strong senior campaign with five goals and three assists for 13 points.
Lafayette also boasts three All-League performers. Junior midfielder Sean Peckham garnered First-Team recognition and is tied for the League lead with six assists. Kyle Scharfenberg, also a junior midfielder, is currently tied for second in the League with seven goals and 16 points and was named to the Second Team, along with defender Julian Plummer. Plummer, the only freshman to make the All-League team, played in all 18 of Lafayette’s matches during a stellar rookie campaign.
Army had two All-League selections, both on the Second Team. Senior Jeff Pickett, who was one of the Black Knights’ top players on the back line all season, was recognized along with junior midfielder Josh Koeppe. Koeppe was Army’s top offensive player with four goals and two assists for 10 points this season.
The Patriot League Tournament begins Friday with both semifinal contests. No. 1 American entertains fourth-seeded Navy at 11 a.m., while second seed Colgate takes on No. 3 Lehigh at 2 p.m. Sunday’s championship contest is slated for 1 p.m., and all three tournament matches will take place at American’s Reeves Field in Washington, D.C.
2011 Men’s Soccer All-Patriot League Team
Steven Miller, Colgate, Sr., F
Alassane Kane, American, Jr., F
Neal Melchionni, Lehigh, Sr., M
Sean Peckham, Lafayette, Jr., M
Ryan Morales, American, Jr., M
Mike Reese, Colgate, Sr., M
Kevin Strunk, Lehigh, Sr., D
Mayowa Alli, Bucknell, So., D
Adem Gokturk, American, Jr., D
Patrick Letourneau, Colgate, Jr., D
Cristobal Soto, American, So., D
Ciaran Nugent, Lehigh, So., GK
Brendan Burgdorf, Bucknell, Jr., F
Joe Puleo, Lehigh, Sr., F
Shane Conlin, Colgate, Jr., M
Luke Joyner, Bucknell, Sr., M
Kyle Scharfenberg, Lafayette, Jr., M
Josh Koeppe, Army, Jr., M
Jeff Pickett, Army, Sr., D
Cameron Omsberg, Lehigh, Jr., D
Julian Plummer, Lafayette, Fr., D
Grant Reed, Colgate, Jr., GK
Offensive Player of the Year Steven Miller, Colgate, Sr.
Defensive Player of the Year Kevin Strunk, Lehigh, Sr.
Goalkeeper of the Year Ciaran Nugent, Lehigh, So.
Rookie of the Year Jimmy McLaughlin, Colgate, Fr.
Coach of the Year Todd West, American