SPARTANBURG, S.C. – UNCG interim men's soccer coach Justin Maullin was named to the 2010 Southern Conference Men's Soccer Coach of the Year and five Spartans earned all-conference honors on Wednesday when the conference's annual awards were announced.
Maullin, who became the interim coach on Jan. 8, led the Spartans to a 10-5-4 mark during the regular season, earning a share of the Southern Conference's regular-season title and the conference tournament's No. 1 seed. More impressively, he did that starting seven new players on opening night. All told, the squad had 19 new faces this year with just nine returning from last season.
With that in mind, the Spartans had been picked sixth among eight teams in the league. After some early signs of hope, including a win over a William & Mary squad that is in the top 10 in the RPI ratings, the team solidified itself late in the campaign and is currently on a nine-game unbeaten streak.
Five of those new players earned all-conference first-and second-team honors. Hakan Ilhan and Kris Byrd earned first-team honors, while Brian Graham, Fannar Arnarsson and Aaron Reifschneider earned second-team slots. UNCG's five honorees were the most among the eight league schools.
Ilhan leads the league in scoring with 27 points on 10 goals and seven assists. The sophomore from Stuttgart, Germany, now has a point in six straight matches and eight of the last nine. In his last six matches, he has tallied 15 points on six goals and three assists.
Byrd transferred from NC State prior to this season to attend UNCG for graduate school and has had an immediate impact in solidifying the defense. In the same number of games as last year, the Spartans have allowed 91 fewer shots overall and nearly half as many shots on goal as last year – 88 this year compared to 151 last season.
Elon sophomore forward Chris Thomas picked up Player of the Year honors after tying for the conference lead in goals this season with 10. Three of the striker's goals on the year were game-winners, and he had a five-match stretch in September in which he scored a goal in each match.
College of Charleston's Andy Craven was named Freshman of the Year, becoming the first Cougar to ever take home the league's top rookie honor. Craven was third on the team with three goals while adding an assist for Charleston, which shared the SoCon championship with UNCG and Furman.
Four Spartans earned all-freshman honors. Arnarsson, Reifschneider, Graham and Adam Shore were among 11 freshmen honored.
UNCG plays in the semifinal round of Southern Conference tournament on Friday against fourth-seeded Appalachian State at 5 p.m.
All-Southern Conference selections
2010 SoCon Men's Soccer All-Conference Team
Player of the Year – Chris Thomas, So., F, Elon
Coach of the Year – Justin Maullin, UNCG
Freshman of the Year – Andy Craven, F, College of Charleston
F Sean Dreybus, Appalachian State
F Chris Thomas, Elon
F Fabien Vorbe, Furman
F Hakan Ilhan, UNCG
MF Sean de Silva, College of Charleston
MF Alex Caskey, Davidson
MF Brad Franks, Elon
D Sean Flatley, College of Charleston
D Austen King, Elon
D Kris Byrd, UNCG
GK Clint Irwin, Elon
F Jon Cox, Georgia Southern
F Brian Graham, UNCG
F Wilson Hood, Wofford
MF Steven Sassano, Appalachian State
MF Dane Roberts, Furman
MF Fannar Arnarsson, UNCG
D Lee Williams, Appalachian State
D Greg Macnamara, Davidson
D Aaron Reifschneider, UNCG
GK Kees Heemskerk, College of Charleston
GK Alec Kann, Furman
Andy Craven, F, College of Charleston
Kees Heemskerk, GK, College of Charleston
Nick Butterly, D, Elon
Daniel Lovitz, MF, Elon
Jacob Brown, D, Furman
Michael Gandier, MF, Furman
Hunter Norton, MF, Georgia Southern
Fannar Arnarrson, MF, UNCG
Brian Graham, F, UNCG
Aaron Reifschneider, D, UNCG
Adam Shore, F, UNCG
- UNCG -