Menís Soccer Rakes In Postseason Awards
ALBANY, N.Y. – The awards keep coming in for the University at Albany men’s soccer program following their deepest postseason run in program history.
Before the season, junior forward Afonso Pinheiro, coming off a sophomore campaign that secured America East Striker of the Year honors, was the first-ever UAlbany soccer player, men’s or women’s, to be named to the MAC Hermann preseason watch list. Three weeks later, the team was selected by its America East rival coaches to finish first in the conference in 2016.
The first in-season awards for the Great Danes came following their upset of then-#3 Syracuse, and a 4-0 shutout of Vermont. Pinheiro was the first UAlbany player this season to earn America East Player of the Week honors. Senior defender Bernardo Mattos was named to the College Soccer News National Team of the Week for the same time period, and UAlbany attained a program-high 22nd RPI ranking, up from the previous high of 36 from the week before.
The following week saw sophomore forward Nico Solabarrieta named America East Player of the Week for his game-winning goal over New Hampshire that came with six seconds remaining in regulation.
Senior defender and team captain Keith Traut won the first academic award for the Great Danes. Traut was named to the CoSIDA Men’s Soccer Academic All-District 1 First Team in late October, an award which recognizes the top student-athletes across the country for their combined athletic and academic performances. Traut’s selection also placed him in contention for CoSIDA All-Academic honors, to be announced at a later date.
The next round of awards came after the conclusion of the regular season, when the America East announced its selections for the All-Conference and All-Academic teams, as well as individual position and coaching awards. Traut led the Great Danes with his second-consecutive All-Conference First Team and All-Academic selections. Pinheiro, Mattos, and sophomore midfielder Carlos Clark were named to the All-Conference Second Team, and freshman defender Brynjar Steinþórsson was named to the All-Rookie team.
The team had earned the second overall seed in the conference tournament. A second shutout victory over Vermont, this time in the conference semifinals, saw the Great Danes hosting Hartford, after the Hawks had knocked off top overall seed Stony Brook. UAlbany won its first-ever conference title thanks to a penalty kick in the 89th minute by Pinheiro. Mattos was named Most Outstanding Player for the tournament, and was joined by Pinheiro, Clark, and Steinþórsson on the All-Tournament team.
By winning the tournament, the Great Danes earned an automatic bid into their first-ever NCAA tournament, where they were seeded #14. Soon after, the team earned its first-ever national ranking in the Coaches Poll, coming it at #21.
UAlbany defeated Boston College at home in the second round of the NCAA tournament after a first-round bye. The victory saw Pinheiro named to the College Soccer News Team of the Week. Additionally, the Great Danes had jumped to a program-high 12th in RPI, and had broken into the Top Drawer Soccer national rankings at #10.
The Danes’ season came to an end in the NCAA Sweet 16 against #3 Clemson. Postseason awards started coming in, and Traut was named to the All-East First Team, while Pinheiro and Mattos were named to the All-East Second Team. When the final Coaches Poll was released, the Great Danes were ranked #17, a new program-high. They also rank #12 in the Top Drawer Soccer postseason poll.
Since the end of the season, the Great Danes have continued to earn awards. Traut and Pinheiro each earned Scholar All-East First Team selections. Traut has a 3.74 GPA in Business Administration and Financial Regulation, and Pinheiro has a 3.30 GPA in Globalization Studies. To be eligible for this award, a student-athlete must have a least a 3.30 cumulative GPA, start more than 50% of all games or be a significant contributor, and be a junior or above in high academic standing, or in his or her second year at the school after transferring.
Traut also was named NSCAA Scholar All-America Second Team. He was the only America East representative named to either the First or Second Teams. His 3.74 GPA was fourth-highest on the Second Team and 10th highest overall among the selections.
Further, Pinheiro was named to Top Drawer Soccer’s Division I Best XI Second Team, joining forwards David Goldsmith from Butler and Mohamed Thiaw from Louisville. Pinheiro holds end of season rankings of 11th in both goals scored (13) and total points (31). His single-season point total ranks highest in program history, as does his career point total (73). And his 31 career goals are the most by a single player in the program’s Division I era.
Several more awards still await publication, and UAlbany will keep its fingers crossed to hopefully bring home more accolades following its historic season.