MACON, Ga. - Campbell backed up its 2007 Atlantic Sun Championship by posting the first unbeaten and untied season in league play since 1995 and that excellence resulted in seniors Richard Jata and Aaron Johnson capturing two of the conference's top postseason awards, Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, respectively, and their head coach, Doug Hess, earned his second Coach of the Year award, the conference office announced on Tuesday. Lipscomb's scoring star Garret Pettis snatched the remaining honor, earning Freshman of the Year, the first postseason award won by a member of the Bisons' men's program.
This year marks the second time that the Camels have won these three awards. In 2005, Hess won his other Coach of the Year honor and Johnson shared the Defensive Player of the Year. Willy Guadarrama won the Player of the Year after leading the nation in scoring. Jata turned on his production over the final seven games, accumulating eight goals, six were game-winners, and 17 points after registering only two points in his first eight games. His 19 points finished fourth in the conference. Johnson capped his outstanding Campbell career by posting a 0.83 goals-against average, an .808 save percentage and nine shutouts, all leading A-Sun goalkeepers. He enters the A-Sun Championship having not allowed a goal since the 59th minute of the Camels' Oct. 16 game against Lipscomb.
Hess joins eight other A-Sun coaches including former Camel head coach Derrick Leeson to win multiple Coach of the Year awards. Campbell matches Mercer as the only two A-Sun programs to have two coaches win two Coach of the Year awards. Over the last four years, Hess has led the Camels to a 25-4-4 record against conference opposition. This year, he guided Campbell to the first undefeated season in A-Sun play since FIU went 6-0-0 in 1995.
Three more Camels made the All-Atlantic Sun First Team including 2007 holdovers Stephen Oyuga and Josue Soto. Vince Petrasso, the 2007 A-Sun Championship MVP joined his teammates on the First Team giving the Camels five First-Team members, the first A-Sun team with five First-Team All-Atlantic Sun members since FIU in 1996. That year, the Golden Panthers advanced all the way to the title game of the College Cup.
While Campbell garnered almost half the 11 First-Team spots, Jacksonville, runner-up to Campbell, controlled the Second-Team landing five on the squad. Joey Sanchez, second to Johnson in GAA and shutouts made the team as did three Dolphin defenders, Nurdin Hrustic (one of two freshmen also named to an all-conference team) Philipp Meyner and Eddie Munnelly. Tony Taylor, despite being limited to nine games, totaled 10 points to make the Second-Team. Two Dolphins earned First-Team honors in midfielder Stefan Runeman and forward Ramak Niakan Safi. Runeman made the Second-Team in 2007 and in 2008, Niakan Safi scored seven goals, five of which ended up being game winners.
A pair of sophomore forwards joined Niakan Safi and Petrasso on the First-Team in UNF's Akil DeFreitas and Lipscomb's Miguel DaSilva. DeFreitas represents the first UNF player to make the First-team and DaSilva owns the distinction as the only unanimous player on the First-team after leading the conference in assists, 10, points, 26 and shots, 58.
DaSilva's teammate and fellow forward Garret Pettis won the school's first A-Sun individual accolade in capturing the Freshman of the Year award after finishing the regular season atop the A-Sun leaderboard in goals with 11. He broke the program's one-year-old record for goals in season, set by DaSilva. Pettis joined Jacksonville's Hrustic on the Second team
Stetson's defender Robert Hodge continued his three-year ascent up the accolades after landing on the All-Freshmen Team in 2006 and the All-Atlantic Sun Second Team in 2007 to making the First team in 2008. He extends Stetson's streak of having at least one First-team performer to eight straight years, the longest active streak in the A-Sun. Mercer's Bolade Ogunmade joined Hodge among the First-team defenders, the first Bear on the First team since Vicente Arze in 2005. Ogunmade contributed heavily on the offensive end, scoring seven of the Bears'16 goals, or 43.8 percent of his team's goals, the highest percentage by an A-Sun individual as of the conclusion of regular-season play.
Lipscomb's Kezi Lara and T.J. Williams, Stetson's Kirk Labusch, UNF's Adam O'Neill and Campbell's Jason Keever round out the Second Team.
ETSU introduced men's soccer this year and placed a pair on the All-Freshmen Team in goalkeeper James Holt and midfielder Sean Hoek. Holt finished the regular season second in the conference with 88 saves, while Hoek tallied three game-winning goals. FGCU, in year two with its men's program, landed two on the squad matching last season's total. Midfielders Francesco DiStefano and Scott Harrison both ranked in the top 10 in the league in points with Harrison ranking sixth with 17 points while DiStefano tied for ninth with 15 points.
Belmont's dynamic forward duo of Will Moorad and Dan Meacock earned spots on the All-Freshmen Team by virtue of both registering 18 points and combining to score 15 of the Bruins' 29 goals. Stetson midfielders Fredrik Brustad and Gonzalo de Mujica made team after de Mujica scored a team-high 15 points (four goals, seven assists) and Brustad posted nine points.
Jacksonville's Kristian Lassen and Campbell's Kevin Orozco concluded the plethora of accolades bestowed upon the Dolphins and Camels by earning spots on the All-Freshman team.
The Atlantic Sun Conference is an 11-member league committed to Building Winners for Life. The A-Sun stands for achievement with integrity in both the academic and athletic arenas, with a focus on the balance between the two for our student-athletes. Headquartered in Macon, Ga., the A-Sun boasts six of the top eight media markets in the Southeast. The A-Sun includes a blend of the most prestigious and dynamic private and public institutions in the region: Belmont University, Campbell University, East Tennessee State University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Jacksonville University, Kennesaw State University, Lipscomb University, Mercer University, University of North Florida, University of South Carolina Upstate and Stetson University.