UNCW men’s soccer team takes home CAA honors

UNCW men’s soccer team takes home CAA honors
UNCW men's soccer (Source: wect)

WILMINGTON, N.C. (UNCW release) - UNCW redshirt senior defender Danny Reynolds and Head Coach Aidan Heaney have been recognized by the Colonial Athletic Association men’s soccer coaches as the league’s Defensive Player of the Year and Coach of the Year, respectively.

Reynolds and Heaney headline a group of nine Seahawks to receive recognition from the CAA as the league announced its year-end awards on Thursday prior to the start of the CAA Championship.

The Seahawks, 11-4-2 overall and 7-0-1 in the CAA, begin their quest for the program’s second CAA title on Sunday, Nov. 10, when they face either William & Mary or Northeastern in a semifinal game at 1 p.m. at the UNCW Soccer Stadium.

“This is a tremendous honor for our players and program to have so many recognized for their performances this season,” Heaney said. “This is a special group of young men who, along with their teammates, are a pleasure for my staff and me to coach.”

Led by Reynolds, the CAA regular season champion Seahawks placed a program-record five student-athletes on the All-CAA First Team. Senior forward Phillip Goodrum earned First-Team All-CAA distinction for the third straight year, while senior defender Mark Lindstrom claimed a spot on the top unit for the second year in a row.

Junior midfielder Jacob Evans and senior midfielder Gabriel Cabral joined Reynolds, Goodrum and Lindstrom on the league’s elite squad.

The Seahawks also featured a pair of student-athletes – senior defender Wilhelm Nilsson and freshman goalkeeper Gabriel Perrotta – on the Second-Team All-CAA listing and Perrotta joined freshman midfielder Colton Pleasants on the CAA All-Rookie Team.

Heaney received CAA Coach of the Year honors for the fifth time in his 19 years after guiding UNCW to a 7-0-1 record in league play and a No. 21 national ranking heading into the postseason.

Reynolds, who joins Indy Smith (2008) and Jacob VanCompernolle (2014) as UNCW players to earn CAA Defensive Player of the Year honors, has tallied three goals with five assists, starting 16 contests for the Seahawks this season. Reynolds led UNCW to a 3-2 victory over Delaware on Sept. 21 with the first two-goal game of his college career, including the game-winning marker in overtime.

In addition, the Shilton, England, product netted a goal in the Seahawks’ 3-1 win over Northeastern and contributed a pair of assists against Drexel in a 3-1 victory on Oct. 26.

A transfer from the University of Louisville, Reynolds has tallied five goals with eight assists in two seasons and started 26-of-32 games.

“Danny has been a consistently top performer for our team this season and I am extremely pleased for him that my fellow CAA coaches appreciate his quality as much as I do,” Heaney said. "He took a leap of faith to transfer to UNCW from Louisville and battled through injury all of last season. “He worked incredibly hard to get back to his high standard of play and has formed a formidable partnership with Mark Lindstrom and Wilhelm Nilsson . I am sure he will share this award with all of his teammates who are contributing to our stellar defensive work so far this season.”

Goodrum, who joins Smith as the only players in program history to earn First-Team All-CAA accolades three times, paced the Seahawks and ranked third in the CAA with 10 goals and 24 points during the regular season. A two-time selection as the league’s Offensive Player of the Week, the Charlotte, N.C., native scored five goals in the final three games of the regular season, including back-to-back two-goal efforts against Drexel and VCU. One of four players to record back-to-back 10-goal seasons, Goodrum has started all 74 games in his college career and ranks fifth in the program’s history with 31 goals and 77 points.

“Phillip Goodrum has been a true leader for our squad and his 10 goals so far have been key to our good results,” Heaney said. “He is without question a top player and will look for his rich vein of form to continue in the playoffs.”

Lindstrom, from Gavle, Gastrikland, Sweden, claimed his fourth career All-CAA honor. A starter in all 17 games this season, he has played in 98.6 percent of the team’s minutes (1,572-of-1,596) and has two goals to his credit. Lindstrom scored the first goal of his college career in UNCW’s 3-0 victory over Presbyterian and added the game-winning marker in overtime to beat Hofstra on Oct. 5.

“Mark Lindstromis a real talent and has been a rock for us at the back for four years now,” Heaney said. “He reads the game so well and makes plays look effortless at times. This season, along with Danny Reynolds and Wilhelm Nilsson, they have formed a formidable group.”

Cabral and Evans earned First-Team All-CAA notice in their first years with the Seahawks. Cabral, a transfer from the University of Charleston, has started all 17 games and tallied three goals with three assists. Evans has two goals with four assists in 13 games and was named CAA Offensive Player of the Week after netting the game-winning tally in a 1-0 overtime victory at James Madison.

According to Heaney, “Gabriel Cabral has proven to be an excellent addition to our team. He is such an intelligent player and really instrumental in our midfield.”

“Jacob Evans, who transferred in this fall along with Gabriel, can do some special things when he is on top form. I am happy for him that he was recognized as a top player in our league.”

Nilsson, who claimed Second-Team All-CAA distinction for the second straight season, has started 14-of-16 games and earned CAA Defensive Player of the Week honors after netting a goal in the Seahawks’ win over Drexel on Oct. 26. In addition, the Stockholm, Sweden, product tallied the eventual game-winning marker in the 3-0 victory at VCU last Tuesday.

A transfer from St. John’s, Nilsson has started 32-of-35 games over the last two seasons with three goals and one assist. “Wilhelm is such a strong and tough defender and wonderful complement to Mark and Danny,” Heaney said. “His organizational skills and concentration have really developed this year.”

A native of Asuncion, Paraguay, Perrotta has continued a tradition of strong performances at the goalkeeping position. After taking over the starting role in UNCW’s 3-0 win at Radford on Sept. 5, he has authored an 11-2-2 record in 15 starts and leads the CAA with a 0.70 goals against average.

Perrotta has earned CAA weekly honors three times, including a pair of Rookie of the Week awards. He was named CAA Rookie of the Week after his debut victory over Radford, which featured two saves against the Highlanders, and was bestowed the honor again on Monday after making four saves in a pair of wins over VCU and Elon.

“Gabriel Perrotta has played with such a presence in goal for us and made the saves we have needed when called upon,” said Heaney.

“He is very deserving of his Second-Team All-CAA honor as well as being a CAA All-Rookie Team selection.”

Pleasants earned CAA All-Rookie Team plaudits after netting two goals with one assist and starting 13-of-17 games during the regular season. He posted the first goal of his college career in the Seahawks’ 3-2 victory at Delaware and scored the game’s only goal in a 1-0 victory over Charleston on Oct. 12.

“It is great to see Colton named to the All-Rookie Team,” the Seahawks’ coach said. “His performances have been eye-catching as he is such a technical and clever player who works tremendously hard for the team.”

In his 19th season as the Seahawks’ leader, Heaney has fashioned a 175-148-38 record at UNCW and stands as the program’s all-time winningest coach. Under Heaney’s guidance, the Seahawks secured their fourth CAA regular season crown and helped the Seahawks become the first team to go unbeaten in league play since 2009.

The Seahawks have also posted their third straight season with at least 11 victories.

“This award should be a ‘Coaching Staff Award’ so I share this recognition with my staff,” Heaney said. "It is a team effort to recruit such good players and wonderful young men who buy into our culture and are driven to be successful on and off the pitch. “Assistant coaches Shaun Utterson, Alex Nelson and Jordan Phillips work tirelessly to put our players in a position to succeed and support them as best as we can. Special thanks goes to our athletic trainer, Graham Joseph, who does an unbelievable job to have our kids fit and ready to go each training session and game, and Kyle Gilbert , our strength and conditioning coach, for all of their hard work and dedication.”

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