HARTSVILLE, S.C. – The Coker College regular season champion men's soccer team once again brought home a slew of accolades, as Conference Carolinas announced its postseason awards today. Seven Cobras earned all-conference nods, and the program took three of the four major individual awards.
For the second consecutive season, the Cobras boast the conference's player and coach of the year, with senior forward Niko Tirkkonen and head coach Paul Leese taking those honors. Senior James Sweeney rounded out the group as he was named defensive player of the year.
Tirkkonen (Hollola, Finland) had a breakout senior season for the Cobras. He scored nine goals, which was tops on the team, and added a pair of assists. Tirkkonen's nine goals and 20 points were also good for second in the conference.
Sweeney (Huntingtown, Md.), the conference's scholar athlete of the year in 2011-12, had another stellar season in goal. He led Coker to a 12-4-1 record this season and allowed just 13 goals all season. Sweeney posted seven shutouts, tallying 54 saves, and finished with a 0.81 goals against average.
In the fourth season under Leese, the Cobras went 12-4-1 overall and 8-1-1 in the conference. They won their second-straight regular season conference title and were again the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. During his time at Coker, Leese has compiled an overall record of 49-19-9 and a mark of 25-11-4 in conference play.
Tirkkonen and Sweeney led a crew of five first team all-conference selections. Joining them were senior midfielder Carlos Recinos (Houston, Texas), sophomore defender Fernando Bedoya (Miami, Fl.) and junior defender Akeem Prendes (Brampton, Ontario).
Recinos, the conference's player of the year in 2011, scored four goals and tallied seven assists on the season.
Bedoya anchored the defensive line before injury caused him to miss the final four games of the year. He had one assist on the year.
Prendes, also on the defensive line, played in 14 games for the Cobras and notched two goals.
Cuevas played in 15 games and helped control the midfield for Coker; he had one assist.
Jackson provided an offensive spark with five goals on the year.
Coker's season ended with a first-round loss to Queens University of Charlotte in the opening round of the conference tournament. It was the final time for the Cobras in Conference Carolinas; the program moves into the South Atlantic Conference beginning in the 2013-14 season.
Player of the Year
Niko Tirkkonen, Coker
Defensive Player of the Year
James Sweeney, Coker
Freshman of the Year
Erick Suarez, Queens
Coach of the Year
Paul Leese, Coker
All-Conference First Team
Niko Tifkkonen, Coker - Forward
Andrew Settlemire, Erskine - Forward
Jorge Mackenna, Limestone - Forward
Dante De luca, Barton - Midfielder
Carlos Recinos, Coker - Midfielder
Jack Kimber, Erskine - Midfielder
Thomas McCready, Limestone - Midfielder
Fernando Bedoya, Coker – Defender
Larry Mahon, Limestone - Defender
Akeem Prendes, Coker - Defender
James Sweeney, Coker - Goalkeeper
Sam Orritt, Limestone - Forward
James Galvani, Lees-McRae - Forward
Erick Suarez, Queens - Forward
Jose Penaloza, Belmont Abbey - Forward
Jack Bailey, Limestone - Midfielder
Thomas Metzemaekers, Limestone - Midfielder
Thiago Andrade, Queens - Midfielder
James Burke, Limestone - Defender
Calvin Bond, Limestone - Defender
Kevin Anderson, Queens - Defender
Roberto De La Vina, Erskine - Goalkeeper
Archer Bane, Barton - Forward
Felipe Netto, Queens - Forward
Daniel Jackson, Coker - Forward
Alan Cuevas, Coker - Midfielder
Ross Henderson, Erskine - Midfielder
Gersi Cilingiri, Erskine - Midfielder
Scott Hudgins, Lees-McRae - Defender
Ian Murray, North Greenville - Defender
Ben Vangucci, Belmont Abbey - Defender
Joshua Dowd, Queens - Defender
Tom Godfrey, Limestone - Goalkeeper
Regular Season Co-Champions
Coker College & Limestone College
Conference Carolinas announces the all-conference teams during the Conference Carolinas Men's & Women's Soccer Championship Tournaments. Awards include all-conference first, second and third teams, player of the year, defensive player of the year, coach of the year, freshman of the year, and regular season champions. Head coaches from conference member institutions nominate and then vote on the award winners.
Conference Carolinas is a NCAA Division II athletic conference made up of 12 teams from North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. These institutions consist of: Barton College, Belmont Abbey College, Coker College, Converse College, Erskine College, King College, Lees-McRae College, Limestone College, Mount Olive College, North Greenville University, Pfeiffer University and Queens University of Charlotte.
Coker College readies undergraduates for personal and professional success through a distinctive four-year program that emphasizes a practical application of the liberal arts as well as hands-on and discussion-based learning within and beyond the classroom. Coker is ranked among the "Best Colleges" in the South by U.S. News & World Report as well as The Princeton Review. Located in Hartsville, S.C., Coker is within two hours of the cultural, financial and recreational resources of Charlotte, Columbia, Charleston and Myrtle Beach.