Historic Soccer Season Leads to Bevy of Postseason Accolades
The SCAC announced the 2011 men's soccer postseason award winners today and seven Stormy Petrels received recognition. The winners were highlighted by Oglethorpe head coach Jon Akin collecting Coach-of-the-Year honors and senior Mark Lavery (Woodstock, Ga.) earning Defensive Player-of-the Year status. Senior midfielder Aaron Walker (Woodstock, Ga.) was tabbed to the All-SCAC First Team while sophomore defender Nikos Papanikolopoulos (Atlanta) and junior goalkeeper Frank Petersen (Woodstock, Ga.) received Second Team nods. Freshman forward Carlos Gaston (Tallahassee, Fla.) and sophomore midfielder Sean King (Roswell, Ga.) rounded out the Oglethorpe recipients by each being named to the All-SCAC Third Team.
The 2011 Oglethorpe men's soccer team enjoyed a year unlike any other in the program history. The team set a school record by winning twelve straight games during the campaign en route to posting a 17-4-0 overall record. The 17 wins are a program best and the .810 winning percentage is also tops all-time for a team that celebrated 50 years of soccer being played on the campus just this season. The Petrels also posted their best SCAC mark in school history at 8-1 overall on their way to their first SCAC championship. The squad's success earned the school's first trip to the NCAA Tournament and gained national attention when the team appeared in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America rankings for the first time in 50 years.
The Coach-of-the-Year honor for Jon Akin is his second in eight seasons at the helm of the men's program for Oglethorpe. He was first awarded the distinction in 2004 in only his second year and he joins a group of only five coaches to receive multiple COY awards in the history of the SCAC. Originally from Pensacola, Fla., Akin attended Saint Leo College where he was named the Sunshine State Conference (SSC) Player-of-the-Year in 1996 before later being inducted into the SSC Hall of Fame. He went on to play professional soccer for the Charleston Battery and Atlanta Silverbacks before joining the Oglethorpe staff in 2003 where he already holds the school record for victories as a head coach.
A two-year starter at center back since transferring from the University of Kentucky, Mark Lavery spearheaded an Oglethorpe defense that allowed its fewest goals per game (1.22) since Akin's 2005 squad that led the league in that category.
In addition to controlling the back line with aplomb, Lavery was also a key offensive weapon for the Petrels, tallying 6 goals and assisting on four others for 16 points on the season. He becomes the first Stormy Petrel to be named SCAC Defensive Player-of-the-Year since the award was instituted in 2003.
Joining Lavery as an All-SCAC First Team member is his former Etowah High School teammate Aaron Walker. A four-year starter in the midfield for the Petrels, Walker displayed flair for the dramatic in 2011 as each of his three goals were game-winners for Oglethorpe.
His last game-winning goal came in the Petrels 2-0 win over Southwestern to propel Oglethorpe into the SCAC Championship match. He also added 7 assists on the season for a total of 13 points.
Sophomore defender Nikos Papanikolopoulos transferred this season to Oglethorpe from Clemson University and made an immediate impact on the pitch for the Petrels. He started all 21 games as a defender for Oglethorpe and fiercely protected the Petrels net all season long to earn his All-SCAC Second Team honors.
Additionally, Papinikolopoulos made the most of his on-target shots, converting 5 attempts into 4 goals for a season total of 8 points. He tallied the game-winner for Oglethorpe in a 3-1 win over Centre College on October 28 that clinched a first round bye in the SCAC Tournament for the Petrels.
Junior goalkeeper Frank Petersen also collected an All-SCAC Second Team nod for his dazzling play in the net for the Petrels this season. Petersen, who also played with Lavery and Walker at Etowah High School before transferring to Oglethorpe this year from Memphis University, recorded 4 shutouts in 2011.
He posted a 16-3 overall record in net and made 68 saves en route to stopping 76% of the on-target attempts at the Oglethorpe goal. He retains one year of eligibility and will return next season to man the Petrels goal.
The Petrels also placed two players on the All-SCAC Third Team in freshman forward Carlos Gaston and sophomore midfielder Sean King. Gaston enjoyed a breakout debut campaign for the Petrels and finished third overall in the SCAC Newcomer-of-the-Year voting for his outstanding season. A super-sub for head coach Jon Akin, Gaston used his nose for the ball and breakaway speed to record 8 goals and 3 assists in 2011 for a total of 19 points. Two of his eight strikes were game-winners for the Petrels and he tallied the team second-best 19 points in only 803 minutes of clock time on the field.
King transferred to Oglethorpe this season from Presbyterian College and started every contest in the midfield he was fit to play. With deft free kick accuracy, King handled most of the Petrels set pieces in 2011 and recorded a team-high 7 assists in the process.
He tallied 13 points by adding 3 goals on the season, all game-winners for Oglethorpe. None of his strikes was more dramatic than his game-winner over Centre College to lift the Petrels to their first SCAC Championship in Birmingham on November 6.