February 21, 2017

2016 D3soccer.com Men's All-America teams

(l. to r.) Forward of the Year Lucas Terci, Midfielder of the Year Jacob Bender, Defender of the Year Trent Vegter, and Goalkeeper of the Year Scott Greenwood.
Photos: Montclair State Red Hawks, Messiah College Athletics, Calvin Knights

D3soccer.com has announced its 2016 men's All-America teams. The teams were chosen by D3soccer.com staff, Division III soccer coaches and sports information directors from a field of nearly 500 nominations. This is the seventh year that D3soccer.com has recognized the top men's and women's players from across the nation.

The three men's All-America teams are comprised of thirty-three total players representing twenty-eight schools and twenty different conferences, both historic highs for these awards. Five different teams had multiple selections, including the national champion and runner-up. The NESCAC led all conferences with five selections followed by the NJAC and UAA with three representatives. Only two of this year's honorees are repeat selections, the lowest total since the awards debuted in 2010.

With his third All-American selection, red-shirt senior Lucas Terci from Montclair State University is the D3soccer.com Forward of the Year. Terci tallied 28 goals in 20 games to rank second in the nation in total goals and goals per game. As a second team All-American midfielder his sophomore year and a third team forward as a junior, Terci had been equally proficient setting up teammates as he was at finishing, but with goal scoring responsibilities resting squarely on his shoulders in 2016 after an injury-shortened season, the two-time NJAC Offensive Player of the Year doubled his previous season high for goals by scoring on an impressive 26% of his shots and being a perfect five-for-five from the penalty spot. With four assists to boot, he set program highs for goals and points (60) in a season en route to becoming the Red Hawks’ all-time leader in career goals (63), assists (40), and points (166). Additionally, his six game-winning goals put him in a tie for career game-winners (15). After Montclair State fell to its fifth loss on October 22 and in jeopardy of missing the post-season for the first time in fifteen years, Terci scored twice and assisted on the game-winning goal in the regular season finale to clinch a playoff spot, then scored a hattrick in the NJAC quarterfinals against Rutgers-Camden before netting one more in a semifinal win to set the Red Hawks on their way to an NJAC championship and 11th straight NCAA berth. 

Senior Jacob Bender from Messiah College is the D3soccer.com Midfielder of the Year. A starting right back the previous two seasons for the Falcons, Bender excelled in his new role as a holding central midfielder and proved to be the most instrumental player in Messiah’s return to national prominence after slumping in 2015. He not only was the Falcons’ most talented player, but also their hardest worker, making him one of the nation’s best two-way players. Though his primary contribution was the ability to control games by the amount of ground covered on both sides of the ball, being a constant outlet for teammates, and effectively distributing the ball, Bender also found ways to get involved in the scoring with 13 goals (tied for team lead) and 8 assists. Moreover, the Commonwealth Offensive Player of the Year rose to the occasion, getting on the score sheet when the team most needed it. In a midseason Top 25 tilt versus then-No. 5 Washington & Lee, Bender opened the scoring early and assisted on the next two in an emphatic 4-0 victory that seemed to announce the Falcons' return to the upper tier of Division III soccer and give the team a confidence that had been lacking since the start of the previous season. Bender would also score or get an assist in all five post-season matches, scoring the game-winner in the second round of the NCAA tournament and netting the opening goal in Messiah’s heart-breaking double-overtime loss in the Sweet 16 to eventual national runner-up Calvin. 

The D3soccer.com Defender of the Year is Calvin College sophomore Trent Vegter. Not only did Vegter have to emerge from the All-American-sized shadow of his older brother (Travis, two-time first team selection) when he came to play for the Knights, but he also had All-American-sized shoes to fill (Nick Groenewold, 2015 first team) when he moved to centerback from left fullback this season. But after a solid, if over-shadowed, freshman campaign that saw Calvin reach the Final Four, the two-year starter’s presence and impact could not be missed this year when he anchored the Knights’ back line all the way to the second overtime of the national title game. Vegter’s speed, skill and smarts helped Calvin hold opponents to just 3.6 shots on goal per game leading to a 0.49 goals against average (fifth nationally) and 15 shutouts (tied third). Vegter’s contributions, however, were not limited to defense as he scored four goals and was credited with seven assists, including the assist on the lone goal in Calvin’s second round NCAA win over host Carnegie Mellon. But more importantly, in six tournament matches against six Top 20 teams (three in the Top 5), he was instrumental in the Knights recording three shutouts and taking a shutout into the 103rd minute of the final, conceding just two goals in 570 minutes (0.32 GAA) before Tufts’ championship-winner.

Two-time national champion and Tufts University senior Scott Greenwood has earned D3soccer.com Goalkeeper of the Year honors. Greenwood was already turning heads with his exceptional shot-stopping in the 2014 NCAA tournament and this year his greatly improved save percentage across the full season better matched his capability and that associated with top level goalkeepers. His .888 save percentage ranked third in the nation and complimented his vocal leadership and organization of his back line. In tandem with his defense, Greenwood acheived a 0.46 goals against average (7th nationally) and 12 shutouts. And just as in 2014, the NCAA tournament brought out the best in Greenwood and the Jumbos. Facing six ranked teams (four in the Top 10), Tufts would claim the national title by posting five shutouts (two that extended into a second overtime period), never trailing, and conceding just one goal (0.16 GAA). And the lion’s share of the credit needs to go to the undersized netminder who faced an average of five shots on target per game and turned away all but one, good for a stellar .966 save percentage. With little-to-no room for error, Greenwood delivered when it mattered most, highlighted by saving eight shots from the favored host Rowan to preserve a 1-0 second round win and stopping all seven second-half shots on goal from Kenyon in the quarterfinals to allow Tufts’ to book their place in the Final Four with an overtime win.

The D3soccer.com Coach of the Year is St. Thomas University's Jon Lowery. Five years ago Lowery took over a program that seemed to be settling into a .500 status quo and has now taken St. Thomas to the national Final Four. After initial success in his debut campaign that included a return to the MIAC playoffs after a two-year absence, years two and three saw regression before changing the program's trajectory again in 2015. However, last year's improvement did not suggest a program-best season in 2016 that has included the Tommies’ first outright MIAC championship in 25 years, first-ever MIAC tournament title, first NCAA tournament appearance in 21 years, first NCAA win in 26 years, and first-ever advancement past the Sweet 16. Along the way, his squad also set program records for wins (20) and shutouts (16) in a season. Despite unprecedented regular season and conference success, it wouldn’t have been a shock if Lowery’s team faded on the big stage of the NCAA tournament, but in the face of adversity, Lowery’s team demonstrated an unwavering belief and never-say-die attitude until the final whistle time and again. In rounds one and three of the tournament, the Tommies had to come back from 1-0 deficits with under five minutes to play to claim double-overtime victories, and in the quarterfinals they earned an overtime win despite trailing 2-0 at the 70-minute mark. A similar comeback from down 2-0 against Tufts in the semifinals wasn’t to be and St. Thomas finished with a 20-2-3 mark, a vast improvement on 2015’s 12-7-1 record.

2016 MEN'S PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
Forward of the Year: Lucas Terci (Sr.), Montclair State
Midfielder of the Year: Jacob Bender (Sr.), Messiah
Defender of the Year: Trent Vegter (So.), Calvin
Goalkeeper of the Year: Scott Greenwood (Sr.), Tufts
2016 MEN'S ALL-AMERICANS
FIRST TEAM
Pos. Player Year School
F Lucas Terci ** Sr. Montclair State
F Matt Kinkopf Sr. Ohio Northern
F Max Lopez So. Chicago
M Jacob Bender Sr. Messiah
M Pat Devlin Sr. Connecticut Col.
M Austin Bitta Sr. Carthage
M Nicco Capotosto So. Chicago
D Trent Vegter So. Calvin
D Mark Heydt Sr. St. Thomas
D Henry Myers Jr. Kenyon
GK Scott Greenwood Sr. Tufts
SECOND TEAM
Pos. Player Year School
F Nick Kapetanos Jr. Benedictine
F Fabio DeSousa Fr. Rutgers-Newark
F Caleb Lucas Sr. Maryville (Tenn.)
M Josh Ocel * Sr. Brandeis
M Isky Van Doorne Sr. Calvin
M Jimmy Grace Sr. Chris. Newport
D Daniel Sullivan Sr. Tufts
D Anthony Passiatore Sr. Oneonta State
D Will Sjaastad So. Rowan
D Laurence Wyke So. Trinity (Texas)
GK Connor Young Jr. Cortland State
THIRD TEAM
Pos. Player Year School
F Gonzalo Hernandez Sr. Dubuque
F Braden Andryk Jr. Milwaukee Engr.
M Mohamed Kenawy So. Mass-Boston
M Caleb Cole Sr. Gordon
M Soren Frykholm Sr. Colorado College
M Bryce Ciambella Sr. Amherst
D Jackson Lehnart Sr. Amherst
D Wyatt Fabian Jr. Franklin & Marshall
D Thomas Salamone Sr. Lynchburg
D Dakota Rosenberg Jr. Messiah
GK Michael King Sr. Clarkson
* previous D3soccer.com All-America honors
2016 MEN'S COACH OF THE YEAR
Jon Lowery, St. Thomas (20-2-3) - 2016 National Semifinalist