Trio from men's soccer earns special OAC honors

Trio from men's soccer earns special OAC honors

TIFFIN – Following their magical run to an OAC tournament championship, a number of pieces to the Heidelberg University men's soccer team have been honored by the Ohio Athletic Conference. There were three special award winners this year, with head coach Brian Haley being named coach of the year, freshman Alexis Mendoza named forward of the year, and senior Matthew Stevens named goalkeeper of the year.

Hamid Shariff and Greg Raimondo joined Mendoza and Stevens as 1st team All-Conference, while Kyle Simpson was named 2nd team All-OAC.

Before the season, Dr. Haley announced this would be his final year at the helm of the Student Prince soccer program, and he has certainly gone out with style thus far. This marks the fourth time he has been named OAC coach of the year in his 26-year coaching career, with the other times coming in 1994, 2007 and 2010. He led the Berg to their first-ever conference tournament championship, coming from behind at Baldwin Wallace and winning at #15 John Carroll to send Heidelberg to the first NCAA tournament in school history.

Matthew Stevens being named goalkeeper-of-the-year by the OAC marks the first Heidelberg keeper to earn that award. He has already set the Heidelberg record for shutouts in a season with eight, still having more games to play. Stevens ranks second in the conference in saves with 77 as well as second in goals-against average, allowing just 1.26 per match. He played a pivotal role in helping the Student Princes win the OAC title, withstanding an onslaught of shots by the Blue Streaks and making a few crucial saves in the victory.

Alexis Mendoza had a remarkable freshman season, becoming the second Heidelberg player to be named forward-of-the-year, with Cory Buhrman earning the award in 2010. Mendoza came through in the clutch over and over in the OAC tournament, scoring the game-winning goal in each of the three matches for the Berg, including a golden goal in the semifinal at Baldwin Wallace. He ranks second in the OAC in goals scored, leading the Student Princes.

Hamid Shariff was named midfielder-of-the-year in 2013, following that up this season with another strong year, being named 1st team All-OAC for the second straight season. The senior has been masterful in the midfield yet again for the Student Princes, scoring seven goals and dishing out a team-high nine assists, which is tied for third-most in the conference. He scored both goals in the 2-0 senior day victory over Wilmington, had a goal and the assist on the game-winning goal against Marietta in the OAC tournament, and also scored on a penalty kick in the championship match.

Sophomore Greg Raimondo also brought home 1st team All-OAC accolades as a defender. He played a vital role in a Student Prince defense that has stood tall for eight shutouts this season. Raimondo also found his way into the attack in the game against Mount Union, scoring a goal in the 3-0 victory over the Purple Raiders.

Kyle Simpson received his first postseason award from the conference as well, being named to the 2nd team. The junior displayed a lot of composure on the ball throughout the season, not caving to defensive pressure while maintaining possession. Simpson has scored three goals while also recording three assists, including two in the OAC semifinal match against Baldwin Wallace where he played a pair of long balls to the feet of Mendoza for goals, including the game-winner.

The Student Prince soccer team stands as 13-6-3 as they enter the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. They will travel to Kenyon College for an opening-round match on Saturday, November 15, with kick off scheduled for 11:00 a.m.