San Jose, Calif. - The San Jose State University men's soccer program held its annual end-of-the-year awards banquet inside the Gold Room at the Simpkins Stadium Center on South Campus on Tuesday night, December 8.
The event recognized the team and individual accomplishments of the 2009 Spartans. Head coach Gary St. Clair recapped his milestone 20th season in charge at his alma mater, and reviewed the superlatives of each player, following dinner and a highlight video prepared by seventh-year assistant coach Chris Behler.
The banquet concluded with five awards being handed out, and St. Clair calling up his four standout seniors for one final farewell and thank you.
Fifth-year senior center back Oscar Monjaras took top honors as the Most Valuable Player. He started all 18 games he appeared in during the 2009 campaign, missing just the match at USF through red-card suspension and the home date with Sacramento State through injury. Monjaras tallied his first three collegiate goals this year, all from the penalty spot, including the winner over No. 24 UC Davis on Opening Night. For his Spartan career, the Watsonville (Calif.) High School product appeared in 61 games, with 58 starts, most among current Spartans. The co-captain earned All-Mountain Pacific Sports Federation honors for the first time, gaining a spot on the first team. Monjaras was San Jose State's Co-Defensive MVP in 2007.
Justin Castro was chosen by his teammates as their Offensive MVP. The redshirt sophomore attacking central midfielder was third on the team in total points with 12 from five goals scored, including a spectacular free-kick effort to knock off defending MPSF champion Denver with 37 seconds left in the final overtime, and two assists. The San Jose native and graduate of Archbishop Mitty High School played in all 20 matches in 2009, starting 15. A team-best two of his five goals were game-winners. Of his 29 shots on the year, 13 were on frame.
Defensive MVP distinction went to freshman Nick Murphy, Monjaras' partner in the middle of the Spartan back line. Murphy, out of San Francisco's Lowell High School, started all 20 games, playing every minute of every match prior to sitting out the second half of the Spartans' season-ending 4-2 loss to UNLV to open the MPSF Tournament in Denver, Colo., on November 12.
The fourth and final award voted on by members of the Spartan team was for Top Newcomer, with freshman Mauricio Murillo, Jr., the recipient. The native of Santa Clara (Wilcox HS), originally a National Letter of Intent signing for the 2008 campaign, appeared at both left back and holding central midfielder during his first season of college soccer. He started 18 of the 19 matches that he appeared in, and was credited with 10 shots taken, with three on goal.
St. Clair, Behler, associate head coach Ron Smare, also in his 20th year on the staff, and volunteer assistant Dan Benton selected the senior midfield tandem of Nick Cukar and Brian McGuire for Coaches' Awards. Cukar started all 20 matches and paced the team offensively for a second straight year with 17 points from eight goals and one assist. The Capuchino High School product out of Millbrae, Calif., was a co-captain and second-time first-team All-MPSF performer in his final season of college soccer. The team's Offensive MVP a year ago, he completed his career with 57 starts among 62 games played, with all 57 starts in succession since the 2007 opener. Cukar scored 11 game-winners among his 23 total goals.
McGuire, a Sacramento native and fifth-year Spartan out of Bella Vista High School, played a critical role in seven Spartan shutouts after first stepping on the field in 2009. The holding central midfielder missed the first five matches through injury, and wound up starting 14 of 15 contests this year to earn All-MPSF honorable mention for the first time. McGuire made 68 appearances in a Spartan uniform, with 41 starts.
Dylan Murphy, the younger brother of Nick and also a freshman, garnered the John Bradley Memorial Award, named in honor of the late former Spartan from the 1970s. Murphy, also out of Lowell High School in the City, was San Jose State's back-up striker in 19 matches in 2009.
Cukar, McGuire, Monjaras and Colby Moore made up the four-player senior class this year for San Jose State. Moore (Los Gatos, Calif./Bellarmine College Prep), a two-time second-team All-MPSF honoree, was the Offensive MVP in 2006 and the Coaches' Award recipient in 2008. He started all 20 matches in 2009 and 48 of 69 games over his career, with 11 goals and 14 assists for 36 total points as a Spartan.
The Spartans ended the season 9-10-1 overall and 4-3 in league play. They produced an eight-game unbeaten streak, with seven straight wins through most of the month of October.
2009 San Jose State Men's Soccer Team Awards
Most Valuable Player: Oscar Monjaras, Sr., D
Offensive MVP: Justin Castro, So., MF
Defensive MVP: Nick Murphy, Fr., D
Top Newcomer: Mauricio Murillo, Jr., Fr., D
Coaches' Award: Nick Cukar, Sr., MF, and Brian McGuire, Sr., MF
John Bradley Memorial Award: Dylan Murphy, Fr., F