Woodland, Calif. - San Jose State University matched its all-time high from a year ago of six scholar-athletes named to the 2008 Academic All-Mountain Pacific Sports Federation men’s soccer team, MPSF executive director Al Beaird announced on Wednesday, December 17.
Hiroki Akiyama, Ed Brand, Nick Cukar, Oscar Monjaras, Sam Shore and Lewis Sweeney all met the necessary criteria to earn recognition for head coach Gary St. Clair’s program. Last year marked the first time that the Spartans had multiple Academic All-MPSF honorees in a season, having had single selections in 2006, 2005 and 2004, as well as in 2002. San Jose State previously had three Academic All-Western Athletic Conference picks back in 1996.
The Spartans now boast a six-player academic all-conference contingent for a second consecutive season, with Akiyama, Brand, Monjaras and Shore all repeat honorees. In fact, this is Akiyama’s fourth such award, and the first for Cukar and Sweeney.
Akiyama, a senior midfielder and native of Muroran, Japan, has posted a cumulative grade point average of 3.673 in kinesiology. In 2008, he started 16 of the 17 matches in which he played, scoring three goals and adding a single-season career high of six assists for 12 total points, while earning a spot on the All-MPSF second team for the third consecutive season.
Brand, a fellow senior and central defender from London, England, has posted a 3.058 GPA in journalism, and made the All-MPSF first team for the second time in three years. The three-time team captain became just the third known player in program history to gain all-conference selection in all four of his years. Brand aided in six shutouts while scoring a crucial penalty-kick goal in the final minute of regulation to earn a 2-2 home draw for the Spartans against eventual NCAA Championship participant Cal Poly on September 18.
Defenders Monjaras (Watsonville, Calif./Watsonville HS), a redshirt junior, and Shore (Sydney, Australia), a senior, had grade point averages of 3.122 and 3.700, respectively, with Monjaras starting all 11 games he played at left back and providing one assist offensively, and Shore starting all 15 matches he saw action in, as Brand’s central partner on the back line. He helped in registering six team shutouts, while collecting a single-season career-high two assists and All-MPSF honorable mention for the first time.
Cukar (Millbrae, Calif./Capuchino HS), a junior midfielder, had a 3.329 grade point average and was the only Spartan who started all 18 games in 2008. He scored a conference-leading nine goals, including seven game-winners, for 18 total points, earning first-team All-MPSF selection. Sweeney (San Leandro, Calif./Chabot College), a senior goalkeeper, posted a 3.439 grade point average, earning starts in 14 of 15 appearances. He produced a 1.05 goals-against-average, 58 saves and four shutouts.
A total of 36 student-athletes were nominated for the award by the six MPSF institutions on the basis of criteria that included a 3.0 or better cumulative grade point average, being at least a sophomore academically, completion of one full academic year at his institution and participation in 50 percent or more of competition for the season in question.
Shore and Akiyama were recently recognized at San Jose State’s annual Scholar-Athlete Celebration on December 2, 2008, for posting the third and fourth-highest cumulative grade point averages, respectively, among all Spartan male student-athletes through the 2007-08 academic year.