SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Elon head men’s soccer coach Darren Powell and senior forward Chris Thomas were voted as the Southern Conference’s Coach and Player of the Year, respectively, by the league’s coaches as announced on Tuesday. Five Phoenix players overall were honored by the SoCon with Thomas earning first team accolades. Midfielders Gabe Latigue and Matt Wescoe were placed on the second team, while rookies Samuel McBride and Miguel Salazar were recognized and placed on the all-freshmen team.
“We are pleased for our players that have been honored today and hope they continue to improve for the final part of the season,” said Powell. “It is always nice to be recognized by the coaches from the league who all do a great job with their teams.”
Thomas was named the league’s top player for the second time in his career after scoring a school-record 22 goals this season. The Snellville, Ga., native leads the nation with goals scored and total points with 49. He added his eighth game-winner of the season against Davidson on Saturday to become the program’s all-time leader for points with 114. He had seven multi-goal games this year and has converted seven-of-eight penalty kicks for the season. Thomas set the school-record for total goals in the Phoenix’s 3-2 win at then No. 18 West Virginia and has 52 for his career. The striker was named the SoCon’s Player of the Month in September and October and earned three weekly conference honors this season.
Powell earned his third award as the conference’s top coach in his eighth year at the helm of the Elon men’s program. The Phoenix won the SoCon regular season championship for the second time in school history and earned the top seed for league tournament. He also led the maroon and gold to a record of 4-1 against ranked competition, including a defeat of then sixth-ranked Charlotte on Sept. 22. Elon also earned its first national ranking since 2006 with the Phoenix sitting at No. 23 in the recent polls.
The Phoenix defeated Davidson in the opening round of the SoCon tournament on Saturday, Nov. 3, to improve to 13-4-2 on the year. The 13 wins are the most for the program since entering Division I play in 1999 and the most since 1988.
“Personally, I think it is more of a coaching staff award and I would like to thank our squad of players plus John McCallister (strength coach), Jayme Pendergast (Academic Support), Eric Lengas (trainer), Taylor Saxe, Jonathan Potter and Chris Little whose help has been tremendous.” Powell added.
Wescoe has been a key cog in the Phoenix’s offensive attack this season and a clutch performer in his own right. The Willow Springs, N.C., native is second on the squad in goals with five and is tied for the team-lead with six assists. He has three game-winners this season; a goal at No. 18 West Virginia, a header golden goal in a double overtime win at Georgia Southern and another header golden goal at UNCG that clinched a share of the league crown for the Phoenix. He also had two goals against Wofford on Oct. 9, a personal-best. The junior was also named to the Capital One Academic All-District 3 first team.
A native of Apex, N.C., Latigue has had an impressive senior campaign. He scored the equalizing goal in the match against the Wildcats on Saturday and is second on the team with four scores. He also had the assist on Thomas’ game-winner in that match and is tied with Wescoe for the team-lead in that category. He scored the only goal of the Phoenix’s 1-0 win at Appalachian State and had two in Elon’s 3-1 win over Campbell.
McBride and Salazar have had great first year for the maroon and gold. Both players have started the majority of the season and has impacted the team with their versatile play on both sides of the ball helping the Phoenix lead the conference in a number of offensive categories post six shutouts on the season.
2012 Men’s Soccer All-Conference Team
Player of the Year – Chris Thomas, Sr., F, Elon
Coach of the Year – Darren Powell, Elon
Freshman of the Year – Nestor Jaramillo, MF, Wofford
F Chris Thomas, Elon
F Coleton Henning, Furman
F Hakan Ilhan, UNCG
MF Sean de Silva, College of Charleston
MF Michael Gandier, Furman
MF Martin Ontiveros, Furman
MF Alex Hutchins, Wofford
D Lee Williams, Appalachian State
D Nicky MacKain, Furman
D Walker Zimmerman, Furman
GK Danny Free, Appalachian State
F Luke Hugget, College of Charleston
F Gabe Latigue, Elon
F Carlos Dominguez Gonzalez, Wofford
MF Ralphie Lundy, College of Charleston
MF Matt Wescoe, Elon
MF Hunter Norton, Georgia Southern
D Daan Brinkman, College of Charleston
D Drew Ruggles, Georgia Southern
D Forrest Lasso, Wofford
GK Kees Heemskerk, College of Charleston
GK Peyton Ford, UNCG
Samuel McBride, Elon
Miguel Salazar, Elon
Tyler Peoples, Furman
Tony Santibanez, Furman
Eric Steber, Furman
Rocco Bagley, Georgia Southern
Eric Dinka, Georgia Southern
Reed Norton, Georgia Southern
Lukas Zarges, UNCG
Connor Davis, Wofford
Nestor Jaramillo, Wofford