SMU's Gonzalez tops SA list of men's MVPs

Striker Luchi Gonzalez, who carried Southern Methodist through difficult times early in the season and led the Mustangs through a perfect regular season, has been selected the College Men's Player of the Year by Soccer America magazine. Gonzalez, a senior from Miami who scored 21 goals and 12 assists to lead SMU to the NCAA quarterfinals, last month was awarded the Hermann Trophy and Missouri Athletic Club Award as the nation's top player. He is the first SMU athlete selected as a Soccer America Player of the Year. Dave Masur, who guided St. John's to the Big East Conference championship and into the NCAA College Cup semifinals with a final-eight win over SMU, is Soccer America's choice as Coach of the Year. St. John's defender Shalrie Joseph joins Gonzalez among the 11 players Soccer America has selected as College Men's MVPs. Connecticut defender Chris Gbandi, last year's Soccer America Player of the Year, is the only holdover from the 2000 MVPs. NCAA champion North Carolina is represented by defender Danny Jackson, who led the Tar Heels' defense and scored a crucial goal in the title-game victory over Indiana. Other MVPs are goalkeeper Brian Steckroth of Navy, defender Oguchi Onyewu of Clemson, midfielders Kyle Martino of Virginia and Ricardo Villar of Penn State, and forwards Roger Levesque of Stanford, Pat Noonan of Indiana and Dipsy Selolwane of Saint Louis. Soccer America has chosen Players of the Year since 1984 and Collegiate MVPs since 1976. Previous men's Players of the Year include Claudio Reyna, Paul Caligiuri, John Kerr Jr. and Ben Olsen. Santa Clara's Aly Wagner was selected women's Player of the Year for 2001. Soccer America's men's and women's MVPs and Players of the Year are featured in the magazine's Jan. 21 issue. Soccer America's Freshmen of the Year will be announced in two weeks and featured in the Feb. 4 issue. Soccer America's College Men's MVPs: CHRIS GBANDI (CONNECTICUT) Senior defender Suspension and injury limited last year's Player of the Year to 10 games, but he scored three goals and helped the Huskies earn seven of their nine shutouts. Connecticut was 9-1 with Gbandi, 6-4-2 without him, including the Big East final and NCAA second-round losses. LUCHI GONZALEZ (SMU) Senior forward Gonzalez carried the Mustangs through the early part of the season when other key players were injured. By season's end, he had notched 21 goals and 12 assists and led his team to a perfect regular season, a Missouri Valley Athletic Association title and into the NCAA quarterfinals. Gonzalez garnered both the Hermann and Missouri Athletic Club awards as the top college player. DANNY JACKSON (NORTH CAROLINA) Senior defender A third-year captain, Jackson used his experience from his time in English Premier League club Leeds United's system to anchor North Carolina's defense, which shut out 14 foes. His only goal this season, a penalty kick, secured the championship in the NCAA College Cup final against Indiana. SHALRIE JOSEPH (ST. JOHN'S) Senior defender Joseph moved to the backline from forward this season and still chalked up seven goals and four assists for the Big East champions, including four playoff gamewinners. As a sweeper, he led the Red Storm to 12 shutouts and a trip to the College Cup final four. ROGER LEVESQUE (STANFORD) Junior forward Primarily a reserve player in 2000, Levesque responded to new coach Bret Simon's system by posting 14 goals and nine assists to lead the Cardinal to the Pacific 10 Conference championship and a berth in the College Cup semifinals. Levesque, the Pac-10 Player of the Year, scored the lone goal in Stanford's NCAA quarterfinal victory over Saint Louis. KYLE MARTINO (VIRGINIA) Junior midfielder Three of the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year's six goals were gamewinners, and the attacking midfielder -- part of the U.S. Under-20 team that competed at the World Youth Championship last summer in Argentina -- added a team-high eight assists. The Cavaliers went undefeated in ACC play and 17-2-1 overall but were upset in the NCAA tournament by Seton Hall. PAT NOONAN (INDIANA) Junior forward Despite drawing extra attention from opponents' defenses all season, Noonan carried the Hoosiers' offense by logging 16 goals and 12 assists en route to his third straight College Cup appearance. He set up both Indiana goals in their come-from-behind 2-1 victory over St. John's in the national semifinal. OGUCHI ONYEWU (CLEMSON) Sophomore defender In leading the Tigers to the ACC championship, Onyewu scored seven goals and added five assists while the team posted 10 shutouts. The big defender, who garnered international attention with his performance at the U-20 World Youth Championship last summer in Argentina, scored the tying and winning goals against Alabama-Birmingham to send Clemson to the NCAA quarterfinals. DIPSY SELOLWANE (SAINT LOUIS) Senior forward With 25 goals and four assists in 20 games, Selolwane led NCAA Division I in points per game (2.7) and took the Bilikens to their best record since 1971 (18-2), their second successive Conference USA title and the NCAA quarterfinals. The C-USA MVP, a Botswanan national team player who transfered from Harris-Stowe (NAIA) after scoring 35 goals in 2000, netted five goals in five postseason games for St. Louis, including both in the 2-0 win against Marquette for the Conference USA championship. BRIAN STECKROTH (NAVY) Senior goalkeeper The three-time All-Patriot League selection and 2001 Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year surrendered just nine goals and posted nine shutouts -- seven of them in 1-0 victories -- in 17 games, critical numbers that enabled the low-scoring Midshipmen to finish 11-3-3. His 0.49 goals-against average ranked third-best in the nation. RICARDO VILLAR (PENN STATE) Senior midfielder The Brazilian playmaker, a two-time All-American, ranked fifth in NCAA Division I in assists per game (0.65) and paced the Nittany Lions to the third round of the NCAA tournament, leading the squad with 10 goals, 13 assists and four gamewinning goals. He ranks second all-time at Penn State in assists with 31 PLAYER OF THE YEAR Luchi Gonzalez (SMU) COACH OF THE YEAR Dave Masur (St. John's) SA PLAYERS OF THE YEAR Men 1984 -- Paul DiBernardo (Indiana) 1985 -- Michael Brady (American) 1986 -- Paul Caligiuri (UCLA) and John Kerr Jr. (Duke) 1987-91 -- No selection 1992 -- Claudio Reyna (Virginia) 1993 -- Claudio Reyna (Virginia) 1994 -- A.J. Wood (Virginia) 1995 -- Mike Fisher (Virginia) 1996 -- Johnny Torres (Creighton) 1997 -- Ben Olsen (Virginia) 1998 -- Wojtek Krakowiak (Clemson) 1999 -- Aleksey Korol (Indiana) 2000 -- Chris Gbandi (Connecticut) 2001 -- Luchi Gonzalez (SMU) Women 1985 -- Lisa Gmitter (George Mason) 1986 -- April Heinrichs (North Carolina) 1987 -- Michelle Akers (Central Florida) 1988 -- Shannon Higgins (North Carolina) 1989 -- Shannon Higgins (North Carolina) 1990 -- Kristine Lilly (North Carolina) 1991 -- Julie Foudy (Stanford) 1992 -- Mia Hamm (North Carolina) 1993 -- Mia Hamm (North Carolina) 1994 -- Tisha Venturini (North Carolina) 1995 -- Shannon MacMillan (Portland) 1996 -- Debbie Keller (North Carolina) 1997 -- Sara Whalen (Connecticut) 1998 -- Danielle Fotopoulos (Florida) 1999 -- Lorrie Fair (North Carolina) 2000 -- Anne Makinen (Notre Dame) 2001 -- Aly Wagner (Santa Clara)
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