The UC Irvine men’s soccer team might have been overlooked by the NCAA national committee during the past week for consideration in the championship tournament, but they received plenty of attention when it came time to distribute awards for the Big West Conference.
Head Coach George Kuntz was named Big West Coach of the Year and four Anteaters received First Team All-Big West honors for their accomplishments during the soccer season.
Senior forward Brad Evans was named Big West Offensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season after bringing the Anteaters one game away from the Big West Title. Evans scored eight goals on the season and, in the process, became the UCI career leader in goals scored, with 31 goals.
This is the third consecutive year that Evans has been named to the First Team All-Big West team.
‘[Evans] has left an impact that is going to be a legacy at UCI,’ Kuntz said, describing Evan’s accomplishments.
Senior midfielder Anthony Hamilton was named to the First Team for the second consecutive year after tying for second place on the team with eight goals scored.
‘It is a great honor and I think that all the awards that our team has gotten shows what a special season this has been for us,’ Hamilton said.
Sophomore defender Matt Murphy was a pleasant surprise for the men’s team as he led the team with ten goals on the season and was honored as the Midfielder of the Year.
After scoring just three goals in 2005, Murphy quickly established himself as one of the team’s most potent offensive stars. With the loss of Evans and Hamilton, Murphy will carry much of the offensive burden heading into next season.
‘I have learned a lot from Hamilton’s goal-scoring abilities and how he gives 100 percent of his effort,’ Murphy said. ‘I have learned from Brad’s ability to take players on and his consistency on the field. Both of those guys were the team’s leaders this year, so hopefully, I can follow in their footsteps and lead the team to a season like we had this year.’
The last of the Anteaters to be recognized on the First Team was a newcomer to UCI who quickly established himself as one of the conference’s best goalies.
Senior goalie Kenny Schoeni, who transferred to UCI from Vanderbilt University for his senior season, was named Big West Co-Goalkeeper of the Year.
Schoeni set a UCI record, with nine shutouts during the season and finished the year with an average of 0.90 allowed per game.
While many players received individual awards, they acknowledged that it would not have been possible without the presence of their head coach.
‘Coach Kuntz, along with Assistant Coaches Chris Volk and Lawrence Smalls, have been the defining factors in my growth as a player and person at UCI,’ said senior defender Cameron Dunn. ‘These three men have dedicated a great deal of time and devotion to the UC men’s soccer program. Their efforts are greatly appreciated by me and the rest of the UCI men’s soccer family.’
Kuntz had a memorable year in his 12th season at the helm of the men’s program, recording an all-time UCI men’s soccer record with 13 wins during the season. Kuntz was honored as Big West Coach of the Year for the second time in his career as the Anteaters finished the season with an overall record of 13-4-3 and a 6-3-1 record in Big West competition.
Dunn and senior midfielder Doug Franco received Second Team All-Big West honors.
Senior forward Craig Ettinger and senior defender Sergio Rivera received Honorable Mention recognition.
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