Woodland, Calif. - A total of six players from the San Jose State University men's soccer program have earned All-Mountain Pacific Sports Federation honors for the 2006 season. Tri-captains Diego Soto and Ed Brand were the two Spartans to garner first-team honors.
Additionally, Daniel Perez and Hiroki Akiyama picked up second-team recognition while Patrick Scheufler and Richard Mann were selected to the third team.
“The first-team selections were well-deserved across the league,” said San Jose State head coach Gary St. Clair, who completed his 17th season in charge in 2006. “Diego and Ed certainly belong on that list. They would start for any team in the conference. The first-team award is a good measure of their abilities.”
Soto is a senior midfielder from King City, Calif. The Hartnell College transfer started all 15 games in which he played, producing his first major college point with an assist on the fourth-minute opener in a 3-1 home loss to ninth-ranked New Mexico on October 29.
“When I presented Diego to the league, I said that he was the best ball-winning midfielder in the conference,” explained St. Clair. “He does not have a lot of statistics, but he pressures the ball in midfield and wins balls both in the air and on the ground. It’s almost like he has a third lung. He covers a great deal of ground. I never had to replace him for fitness reasons. He was huge for us this year.”
Brand is a sophomore defender from London, England. In 2006, he started all 16 games in which he played, scoring a pair of penalty-kick goals in a 2-1 win over Notre Dame de Namur on September 16, and adding an assist on the 18th-minute game-winner in a 3-0 home victory over UNLV on October 26.
“Ed, without question, would be one of two all-conference central defenders,” said his coach. “He reads the game extremely well, and is a very, very tough competitor. He is always ready to go at game time, and had a good, solid year for us. I wish I had a few more players like him.”
PEREZ REWARDED AFTER 51 CAREER STARTS
Perez, a fifth-year senior in midfield from Oakland, Calif., was a team tri-captain in 2006, alongside Soto and Brand. He started all 17 games he played in, providing an assist in the 3-0 UNLV win. Five of his 14 shots on the year were on goal.
Akiyama, a sophomore midfielder from Hokkaido, Japan, was one of just three Spartans to start all 18 games in 2006, scoring three goals, including game-winners against Saint Mary’s and at UNLV. He also added two assists for eight total points, and led the team in shots (41) and shots on goal (15).
“Dan and Hiroki were very solid for us and played almost every minute that they were capable of playing,” remarked St. Clair. “Dan had a very good year, and Hiroki scored some important goals for us.”
MANN'S FIVE CLEAN SHEETS EARN HIM THIRD-TEAM SELECTION
Scheufler, a fifth-year senior midfielder from Santa Cruz, Calif., appeared in all 18 games in 2006, starting 16. Mann, a redshirt sophomore and native of San Jose out of Leland High School, started all 18 games in the Spartan goal. He posted a career-high five shutouts, and made a career-high nine saves in the season opener against Cal State Fullerton. Mann finished with 72 saves and a 1.28 goals-against-average.
“Rich and Pat were good selections,” concluded St. Clair. “Rich was our first-choice goalkeeper for a second year now, and he has earned that. For Pat, (the award) was a good reflection of the year he had, and I’m quite happy for him.”
The All-MPSF first team consisted of 14 individuals, while the second and third teams had 12 players each. Individual honors went to senior New Mexico defender Andrew Boyens, who was named the MPSF “Player of the Year,” and Denver freshman forward Kellan Christensen, voted the MPSF “Newcomer of the Year.”
Of the Spartan selections, Brand, Mann and Soto had each previously earned All-MPSF honorable mention following their first year of action in the program in 2005.