1. Lapira is Soccer America Men's Player of the Year
For the second year in a row, the Soccer America Men's Player of the
Year is a Louisianan.
Last year it was Maryland's Jason
Garey from Gonzales, located between
Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The 2006 recipient is Notre Dame junior
Joseph Lapira, from Lake
Charles in Acadiana.
Nicknamed the "Ragin' Cajun" by Irish coach Bobby Clark when he
attended the Notre Dame soccer camp while in high school, Lapira played
the 2006 season with a meniscus tear in his knee -- an injury suffered
in Notre Dame's opening game against UAB -- but that didn't stop him
from having a breakout season. He led the country in scoring with 22
goals and 50 points.
He put on one of the greatest performances by a visiting player in the
long history of Indiana's Armstrong Stadium, scoring four goals in a
5-4 overtime win over the Hoosiers over Labor Day weekend.
In October, he went on a scoring tear that included two goals in five
straight games and goals in seven games in a row.
Lapira's knee injury limited his practice time late in the season, but
he had the two biggest goals of the season in the NCAA Tournament. He
scored in the 1-0 victory over UIC in the second round and struck the
golden goal that knocked off defending champion Maryland, 1-0, in the
third round. The Irish's quarterfinal finish was the best in their
Although Lapira had decent freshman and sophomore seasons -- with three
goals and seven goals, respectively -- no one would have predicted he
would break out like he did as a junior. Clark credits Lapira's hustle
around the goal for his ability to create multiple chances for himself.
Lapira, who finished with 11 game-winning goals, says a positive
attitude kept him from getting down like he did in previous seasons
when he missed chances.
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