ATLANTA – Despite an unfavorable start to the season, the Lipscomb men’s soccer team made history down the stretch by winning its second-ever ASUN Conference regular season championship and clinching the No. 1 seed in the league tournament.
The historical season continued Thursday evening at the ASUN awards banquet as the Bisons brought home a total of 17 postseason honors.
Senior Logan Paynter led the contingent, earning Player of the Year, First Team All-ASUN, All-Academic Team and Scholar Athlete of the Year. Head man Charles Morrow was voted Coach of the Year.
In addition to the top prizes, the Bisons placed four on the All-ASUN First Team - Paynter, Ryan Birchfield, Austin Eager and Noah Gulden. Senior goalkeeper Chris Zappia landed second team honors while Noah Gulden, Scott Gulden, Louis Robinson and Daniel Zapata earned spots on the All-Freshman team.
Morrow earns his second career ASUN Coach of the Year award after also doing so in 2013. Lipscomb finished the regular season with a 5-1-0 conference record to earn a share of the league title and the No. 1 overall seed in the championship.
The 14th-year skipper led the Bisons to their second-ever win over a top-10 program when they took down No. 10 Louisville, 3-2, on the road in October.
“It’s really humbling to receive an award like this from a group of coaches that I respect tremendously,” Morrow said. “It also needs to be said that the way this program is run, it’s not all about me. I ask the players and coaches to take ownership in it.
“My assistants and our athletic trainer have played just as an important role in this team as I have and we wouldn’t be where we are if it weren’t for them. The credit needs to be spread around to a number of individuals within this program.”
F | Logan Paynter | Player of the Year | First Team All-Conference (unanimous) | Scholar Athlete of the Year | All-Academic Team
As a unanimous selection, the senior forward earned First Team honors in his fourth consecutive season, and becomes just the second Bison (Omar Djabi in 2013) to be named the ASUN’s Player of the Year. He also finished in the top six of the ASUN in scoring all four seasons.
Paynter also becomes the second-ever ASUN men’s soccer student-athlete to collect both the Scholar-Athlete of the Year recognition as well as the ASUN Player of the Year honor in the same season. It’s his third-straight season on the All-Academic squad.
He led the Bisons attack with seven goals and three assists for 17 total points. He is the ASUN’s active career leader in goals with 33 and is one shy of matching Lipscomb’s all-time program mark. That number ranks him ninth on the NCAA’s active career leaders chart as well.
The Bradenton, Florida native played in all 16 matches, drawing 12 starts, and finished third in the ASUN in shots (45) and shots on goal (22). He closed the regular season on a tear with goals in four of the last five matches, including a pair of three-point performances on the road at #10 Louisville and NJIT.
Paynter graduated last May with a 3.66 cumulative GPA in Corporate Marketing. He is currently pursuing a Maters in Business.
“Logan is so deserving of every one of his accolades,” Morrow said. “He works so hard and to see his growth and development over the last four years, it’s nothing short of remarkable. I am really excited to see what the future holds for him.
“Based on his body of work, and a guy who has played with a target on his back the last four years, he is deserving, and it’s great to see the other coaches around the league notice this as well. These honors speak a lot to Logan as a player and student, but those are not the best things about him.”
MF | Ryan Birchfield | First Team All-Conference
Birchfield played a pivotal role in helping guide the Bisons to their second ASUN title in program history. He played in 14 matches with starts in 10 and finished second on the team with four goals, and 10 total points after also adding a pair of assists.
The Ipswich, England native proved to be the Bisons corner-kick specialist as he took 62 in helping the team to a league-high 94.
The senior picked up a three-point game at home against #5 Kentucky with one goal and one assist. He then added another 3-point game against Liberty. His four goals are 10th most in the ASUN and his 10 points are 12th most.
“Ryan is a player that is really versatile in terms of positions he plays,” Morrow said. “He is a consistent guy and he does a lot of work on the defensive end for us. In terms of work rate and heart, he is unmatched. I couldn’t be more proud of him.”
D | Noah Gulden | First Team All-Conference, All-Freshman Team
One of only two freshmen to make the All-ASUN First Team, Noah stepped in and proved to be one of the best outside backs in the league. He played in and started 12 matches, including all six conference contests where he totaled a pair of assists against North Florida and Liberty.
He helped anchor the third-best defense in the league, allowing just 28 goals and a 1.72 goals per match over the season.
Against ASUN foes, the Hattingen, Germany product steered the defense to only nine goals allowed.
D | Austin Eager | First Team All-Conference, All-Academic
Eager brings home his first postseason honors since being named to the All-Freshman team in 2016. The Carrollton, Texas native gave the Bison defense a shot in the arm when he was on the backline.
The junior started nine matches and played full minutes in eight of them. In those games, he helped the team to a 6-3 record.
In six of Eager’s 10 matches played, the Bisons allowed one or fewer goals, including a shutout of Belmont in the season opener. The defender also guided Lipscomb to a 5-0 mark in games against league competition.
Eager took a spot on the All-Academic squad after posting a perfect 4.00 GPA in Mechanical Engineering.
“We feel like we have the best two outside backs in the conference in Austin and Noah, but both are deserving of first-team honors,” Morrow said. “They are really smart players, having very rarely ever been caught on a counter. They defend the back line as well as anyone in our league.”
GK | Chris Zappia | Second Team All-Conference
Zappia proved to be one of the top keepers in the ASUN this season, working his way to a 7-4-0 overall record between the pipes with 42 total stops, tied for the most victories in the ASUN.
Against conference foes, he went a perfect 5-0 in net and allowed just 1.20 goals per game.
The Raleigh, North Carolina product closed the season as host any player in the country with six straight victories. His last loss came against ETSU on September 15th.
Zappia finished second in the ASUN in GAA (1.45), and save percentage (.724) and brought home three ASUN Defensive Player of the Weeks, which were the most in the conference.
He posted a clean sheet against the Bruins in the season opener (2-0), notched a season high eight saves on the road at South Carolina, and helped limit #10 Louisville to its second-lowest scoring output of the year.
“We feel Chris was a little unfortunate landing on the second team,” Morrow said. “He has the talent of being Goalkeeper of the Year, but I believe the rough patch we hit at the beginning of the year is the reason he’s not at the top.
“He is playing as well as anyone in the conference entering the tournament. He showed the ability this season to make all the routine saves along with the tougher ones that win you ballgames as well. I think he is the best keeper in the league.”
D | Scott Gulden | All-Freshman Team
Scott was one of the handful or freshmen who stepped in and played key roles in helping Lipscomb to its second ASUN championship.
In his first season in Nashville, he was the only Bison to start all 16 matches – one of only seven in the ASUN to do so.
The Hattingen, Germany product totaled 1415 minutes on the year and played the full 90 in 15 of the 16 outings.
Always seeming to come up with a big clearance, Gulden led a defense that allowed 28 goals and 1.72 per match. They limited opponents to one goal or fewer in seven games.
“It’s really hard to come in as a freshman and play center back the way he did,” Morrow said. “It’s a position we demand a lot from as we build out from the back. To be a leader for the team in the back while speaking English – which is probably his third-best language – is very impressive.”
F | Daniel Zapata | All-Freshman Team
Zapata made the most of his first season on the pitch with the Bisons by playing in 15 games, including 11 starts.
He finished third on the team with three goals while also chipping in two assists to give him eight total points.
The Laredo, Texas product scored his first career goal on the road at South Carolina before adding his first career assist in the next outing at Georgia State in September.
Zapata chipped in game-winners against FGCU and NJIT before assisting on the game-winner against Stetson in the regular season finale.
“Daniel has played a bigger role than what we anticipated this year due to injuries,” Morrow said. “He has gotten better each time out and he came up with some big goals for us this season. He creates a lot of chances for himself and for others.”
F | Louis Robinson | All-Freshman Team
Robinson played in all 16 matches while making 11 starts in the midfield and at the forward position.
The Nottingham, U.K. native slotted home three goals and totaled six points in his first season in the Music City.
He scored his first career goal on the road at Jacksonville in the conference opener, before adding the game-winner on the road at #10 Louisville. Perhaps his most impressive shot this season was a spinning equalizer he buried in the upper left corner on senior night against Stetson.
“I am really proud of the job Louis did this year,” Morrow said. “We recruited him as a winger, but through injuries he was forced into a forward role. He continues to get better and better each week while working hard. He has proven himself to be dangerous in front of goal.”
D | Daniel Muhlbauer | All-Academic Team
Sporting a 4.00 GPA while majoring in International Business, Muhlbauer landed his first spot on the All-Academic Team. He anchored the Bisons back line in all 16 matches with 13 starts.
He totaled the first points of his career this season with one goal and two assists.
The Vaihingen an der Enz, Germany native helped Lipscomb to a 7-6 overall mark in matches he started, including wins in six of the last eight games.
He assisted on the game-winning goal against FGCU before picking up three points with scoring the game-winner against Liberty in October.
MF | Austin Strout | All-Academic Team
The senior carries a 3.96 GPA in Accounting and earned his first-ever ASUN postseason honor with a spot on the All-Academic squad.
Strout played in a career high 11 matches with seven starts this season. The Grand Prairie, Texas native totaled eight shots and four shots on goal in 550 minutes of action.
MF | John Wynia | All-Academic Team
Wynia put together his best season as a Bison in 2018 in both the classroom and on the pitch.
The Plano, Texas native has a 3.84 GPA in Finance and found a way into the lineup in all 16 matches this season, including 12 starts.
Replacing tons of production in the midfield coming into the year, Wynia recorded a career high nine points after scoring two goals and leading the team with five assists. All of his assists came against ASUN foes – the most of any player in conference play.
His seven total points against ASUN teams are the sixth most in the league. He scored goals on the road at North Florida and #10 Louisville, while adding his first ever two-assist match at home against FGCU.
“We are really proud to have five all-academic selections,” Morrow said. “It speaks volumes to the type of guys we have in this program. They approach everything with a determination and drive to succeed. The character of this team is high.”
The 11 honorees and their teammates will take the field on Sunday in the semifinals of the ASUN Championship at 2 p.m. They will face the winner of Friday’s first round game of #4 Jacksonville and #5 Liberty.