Elon senior forward Chris Thomas was named the Southern Conference Men’s Soccer Player of the Year, while Phoenix coach Darren Powell was named
Coach of the Year in voting by the league’s eight head coaches.
Wofford midfielder Nestor Jaramillo was selected as the league’s Freshman of the Year, while five Furman players highlight the 11-member all-conference first team. The SoCon’s eight coaches voted on a pair of all-conference teams, an all-freshman team and the three individual awards. They were not allowed to vote for themselves or their own players.
The first team and second team include 11 players each, while the all-freshman team consists of 11 players with no consideration for positions. Thomas, who was also the SoCon Player of the Year in 2010, has scored 22 goals and 49 points this season and is leading the nation in both categories.
The Snellville, Ga., native has set Elon’s single-season record for goals and career marks in goals and points this season. Thomas has a league-best eight game-winning goals on the season and was named the SoCon player of the week three times and player of the month in September and October. He was named the Disney Soccer/NSCAA National Player of the Week on Sept. 26 after scoring all four Elon goals in wins over William & Mary and then-No. 6 Charlotte. Thomas becomes just the seventh player in league history to be named Player of the Year multiple times.
Elon has had the Player of the Year in three of the last five seasons, as former Phoenix Justin Wyatt earned the honor in 2008.In earning his third SoCon Coach of the Year award, Powell has guided the Phoenix to a 13-4-2 record thus far and the squad’s first national rankings since the 2006 campaign. The eighth-year head coach led Elon to a 5-2 mark in league play as the Phoenix captured its second-ever regular-season title and first since 2008.
Powell has top-seeded Elon heading to Cary, N.C., this weekend trying to defend its 2011 SoCon Men’s Soccer Championship title and earn another NCAA berth. Jaramillo becomes the first Wofford player to earn SoCon Freshman of the Year honors.
The Lexington, S.C., native has seen action in all 19 matches for the Terriers, starting 16 of them. Jaramillo is third on the squad in scoring with 10 points on two goals and six assists. The rookie had the golden goal as Wofford knocked off Elon 4-3 on Oct. 9 to hand the ranked Phoenix its first league loss of the season. Furman, the preseason pick to win the league, accounted for nearly half of the All-Southern Conference First Team. Coleton Henning (forward), Michael Gandier (midfield), Martin Ontiveros (Furman), Nicky MacKain (defender) and Walker Zimmerman (defender) earned the distinction for the Paladins, who were nationally ranked for several weeks this season.
Zimmerman, who was last season’s Freshman of the Year, was the only player to earn the maximum number of points for his position in the voting process this year. Appalachian State had two first-teamers in defender Lee Williams and keeper Danny Free. Elon’s Thomas and UNCG’s Hakan Ilhan rounded out the forwards on the squad, while College of Charleston’s Sean de Silva and Wofford’s Alex Hutchins were the remaining two midfielders.
The College of Charleston Cougars led the way on the second team with four selections. Luke Huggett took the distinction at forward, while Ralphie Lundy earned a spot in the midfield. Daan Brinkman took a spot in the defense, while Kees Heemskerk earned the nod at goalkeeper. Elon, Georgia Southern and Wofford had two second-team selections each. Forward Gabe Latigue and midfielder Matt Wescoe represented the Phoenix, while midfielder Hunter Norton and defender Drew Ruggles were picked for the Eagles. Forward Carlos Dominguez Gonzalez and defender Forrest Lasso were second-team picks for the Terriers.
UNCG keeper Peyton Ford rounded out the second team. Furman and Georgia Southern shared league-high honors with three players each on the all-freshman team. Tyler Peoples, Tony Santibanez and Eric Steber were chosen for the Paladins, while Rocco Bagley, Eric Dinka and Reed Norton earned the honor for the Eagles. Samuel McBride and Miguel Salazer represented Elon on the all-freshman unit, while Wofford’s Connor Davis joined Jaramillo on the team.
UNCG’s Lukas Zarges rounded out the squad. Appalachian State, Elon, Georgia Southern and Wofford all advanced to the semifinals of the SoCon Men’s Soccer Championship, to be held Thursday in Cary, N.C., at the WakeMed Soccer Park. The final will take place Saturday and will be broadcast on ESPN3, with the winner earning the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.
2012 Men’s Soccer All-Conference
Team Player of the Year – Chris Thomas, Sr., F, Elon
Coach of the Year – Darren Powell, Elon
Freshman of the Year – Nestor Jaramillo, MF, Wofford
F Chris Thomas, Elon
F Coleton Henning, Furman
F Hakan Ilhan, UNCG
MF Sean de Silva, College of Charleston
MF Michael Gandier, Furman
MF Martin Ontiveros, Furman
MF Alex Hutchins, Wofford
D Lee Williams, Appalachian State
D Nicky MacKain, Furman
D Walker Zimmerman, Furman
GK Danny Free, Appalachian State
F Luke Huggett, College of Charleston
F Gabe Latigue, Elon
F Carlos Dominguez Gonzalez, Wofford
MF Ralphie Lundy, College of Charleston
MF Matt Wescoe, Elon
MF Hunter Norton, Georgia Southern
D Daan Brinkman, College of Charleston
D Drew Ruggles, Georgia Southern
D Forrest Lasso, Wofford
GK Kees Heemskerk, College of Charleston
GK Peyton Ford, UNCG
Samuel McBride, Elon
Miguel Salazar, Elon
Tyler Peoples, Furman
Tony Santibanez, Furman
Eric Steber, Furman
Rocco Bagley, Georgia Southern
Eric Dinka, Georgia Southern
Reed Norton, Georgia Southern
Lukas Zarges, UNCG
Connor Davis, Wofford
Nestor Jaramillo, Wofford
Photo Courtesy: Danny Free of ASU, SoCon Athletics