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This Week in WAC Men's Soccer - Oct. 1

This Week in WAC Men's Soccer - Oct. 1

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AF'S TRAGER, UVU'S JENSEN NAMED PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Air Force's Tristan Trager and Utah Valley's Mitch Jensen have been named Western Athletic Conference Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week, respectively, for September 23 - 29.
 
Trager, a sophomore forward from San Clemente, Calif., totaled five points in the Falcons' 4-1 win over Kansas City on Saturday. With the scored tied 1-1 at half, Trager took over in the second half, scoring the go-ahead goal in the 66th minute, assisting on an insurance goal in the 70th minute and then earning the brace in the 72nd minute.  The five points led the WAC on the opening day of WAC play and he was one of two players to earn the brace in the league-opening match.
 
Jensen, a senior goalkeeper from Kaysville, Utah, was a wall for the Wolverines in UVU's WAC opener against Houston Baptist. The netminder made seven saves to earn his second clean sheet of the season and help the Wolverines open WAC play with a win. On the season, he holds a goals against average of 1.17 and a .700 save percentage.
 
Other offensive nominees: Grand Canyon's Marios Andreou scored the game-winning goal in a 1-0 win over UIW to open WAC play … San José State's Nicolas Brenes tallied two goals to lead the Spartans to a win over CSU Bakersfield on Saturday … Seattle U's Declan McGlynn scored in each of the Redhawks' wins on the week … UT Rio Grande Valley's Angel Lopez scored the game-winning goal in UTRGV's 2-0 win at UNLV on Saturday … Utah Valley's Blake Frischknecht scored an insurance goal for the Wolverines in a 3-0 WAC win over Houston Baptist.
 
Other defensive nominees: Air Force's Jared Dove led the Falcons defense in a win over Kansas City to open league play … California Baptist's Albert Escuin matched his career high with 10 saves against Cal State Fullerton and added nine saves against Seattle U … Grand Canyon's Austin Day played 58 minutes on the back line for the Lopes in a 1-0 win over UIW on Saturday … San José State's Omar Lemus anchored the back line to help the Spartans open WAC play with a 3-2 win over CSU Bakersfield … Seattle U's Akili Kasim tallied six saves over two matches to lead the Redhawks to a pair of wins on the week … UT Rio Grande Valley's Andy Rios made five saves to collect his third shutout of the season in a 2-0 win at UNLV on Saturday.
 
UP NEXT
It's the first full week of conference play as teams look to get off to a quick start in the league table. Utah Valley and Air Force head to Texas to take on UT Rio Grande Valley and UIW. UNLV and Grand Canyon head west to take on California Baptist and CSU Bakersfield. The third foursome inlcudes Kansas City and Utah Valley traveling to San José State and Seattle U.
 
BY THE NUMBERS
Seattle U leads the league in shots (152), shutouts (5), corners (62) and are tied with CSU Bakersfield and Utah Valley for the lead in goals (13). UVU also has the lead in points (43) and assists (17). UT Rio Grande Valley and Grand Canyon are tied for the lead in least goals allowed (6) while GCU holds the top goals against average (0.83). UNLV is the leader in saves with 48.
 
Individually, UVU's Blake Frischknecht and CBU's Rafael Vacas Barba are the co-leaders in shots (35). Frischknecht is also tied for the lead in points (10) and goals (5) with SU's Noe Meza. UTRGV duo Arthur Rogers and Angel Lopez share the lead for assists (4) and Meza also has the lead in game-winning goals (3). In goal, GCU's George Tasouris is the leader in goals against average (0.83) and UIW's Carlos Mercado has the top save percentage (.828). CBU's Albert Escuin has a league-high 45 saves and SU's Akili Kasim leads the WAC with five shutouts.
 
ON THE MAP
Posting one of the top non-conference records in the country, UT Rio Grande Valley broke into the national polls this week, coming in at 24th in the Top Drawer Soccer Top 25. UTRGV is also among those receiving votes in the United Soccer Coaches Top 25 and the College Soccer News Top 30.
 
BEST IN THE (FAR) WEST
Two WAC squads are among those listed in the most recent United Soccer Coaches Far West Regional Ranking. UT Rio Grande Valley moved up one spot to fifth while Grand Canyon moved up one spot to ninth.
 
TOP OF THE CLASS
Utah Valley senior midfielder Alec Felix was announced as one of 30 candidates for the Senior CLASS Award®, given annually to a student-athlete who excels both on and off the field. Felix is a three-time Academic All-WAC selection and will graduate next April. Entering his final year of school, Felix has a 3.72 cumulative GPA.A two-time honorable mention All-WAC selection, he has started all but two games in his entire career. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. The Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the 2019 Men's College Cup® in December.
 
HYNDMAN JOINS 500-WIN CLUB
Grand Canyon head coach Schellas Hyndman became the fifth Division I men's soccer coach in history to win 500 games after his Lopes earned a season-opening win over Northern Kentucky on Aug. 30. South Carolina's Mark Berson is the only other active coach with over 500 wins.
 
FROM NEW ZEALAND TO VEGAS AND BACK
UNLV junior defender Billy Jones will miss some time with the Rebels later this month as he heads to Fiji to compete for his native New Zealand in Olympic Qualifyers. The Oly-Whites are the top seed in Group A, which also include Solomon Islands, American Samoa and Samoa. Group B consists of Fiji, Vanuatu, Papau New Guinea and Tonga. The winner of qualifying tournament will earn the lone berth available to the region for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
 
SEATTLE U PICKED TO WIN 2019 TITLE
Seattle U is the preseason favorite to win the 2019 Western Athletic Conference men's soccer title in a vote of the league's 12 head coaches, who could not vote for their own team.
 
The Redhawks collected five of 12 first-place votes and 112 total points to take the top spot. UT Rio Grande Valley was selected second with two first-place votes and 104 points. Air Force and Grand Canyon tied for the third spot with the Falcons earning three first-place votes and the Lopes earning one first-place vote and both teams garnering 88 points. UNLV was just one point back with 87 points to take the fifth spot. San José State, a tournament finalist the last two seasons, received the final first-place vote and 77 points to take the sixth spot. Utah Valley was selected seventh with 75 points, followed by California Baptist in eighth, CSU Bakersfield in ninth, Houston Baptist and Kansas City tied for tenth and UIW in 12th. 
 
AUNE, RIVAS HIGHLIGHT PRESEASON ALL-WAC SQUAD
UT Rio Grande Valley's Kyle Edwards and Grand Canyon's George Tasouris were selected as the WAC Preseason Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year respectively in a vote of the league's 12 head coaches, who could not vote for their own team or players.
 
Edwards is joined on the Preseason All-WAC squad by teammate William Akio while Tasouris was the lone representative for GCU. UNLV and Seattle U each had three honored as Tyler Allen, Marco Gonzalez and Timo Mehlich represented the Rebels and Julian Avilia-Good, Declan McGlynn and Thomas Mickoski were the Redhawks' honorees. Air Force's Nick Blessing and San José State's Max Allen rounded out the 11-member team.
 
UTRGV'S EDWARDS NAMED TO MAC HERMANN WATCH LIST
UT Rio Grande Valley's Kyle Edwards is the lone WAC representative on the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List, released on Aug. 1. The senior scored 14 goals and recorded 33 points during a standout junior season, which saw him earn First Team All-WAC honors, as well as First Team All-Far West Region honors.
 
DUO EARNS PRESEASON HONORS
UT Rio Grande Valley forward Kyle Edwards was named to the Top Drawer Soccer Preseason Best XI, earning third team honors. Seattle U midfielder Jesse Ortiz was named to the TDS Freshman Best XI after scoring 13 goals for Houston Dynamo U-19 and three goals for Brazos Valley Cavalry FC of USL2 where he played with UTRGV's Edwards.
 
PLAYING THE BEST
The WAC has 27 non-conference games against participants from the 2018 NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament. Seattle U and Grand Canyon might have a strong argument for who has the toughest non-conference schedule as the Redhawks are set to take on five NCAA participants (Denver, Indiana (at Notre Dame), at Notre Dame, Portland and Washington) while the Lopes will play four NCAA participants (Oregon State, at Saint Mary's, at UC Riverside and at Virginia Tech). CSU Bakersfield, Houston Baptist and San José State will each take on three NCAA participants. In total, 11 of the 12 WAC men's soccer programs will face a postseason participant in non-conference play.
 
LUCKY SEVEN
With 11 men's soccer teams eligible for the postseason in 2019, the WAC tournament field remains at seven teams. The tournament also features an extra rest day between the first round and semifinal round. The regular season champion and top seed will receive the only bye in the tournament, with the other teams beginning play on Wednesday, Nov. 13 at the United State Air Force Academy outside of Colorado Springs, Colo. Semifinals will be played on Friday, Nov. 15 with the championship game set for Sunday, Nov. 17.