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This Week in WAC Men's Soccer - Sept. 10

This Week in WAC Men's Soccer - Sept. 10

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UTRGV'S EDWARDS, SU'S KASIM NAMED PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
UT Rio Grande Valley's Kyle Edwards and Seattle U's Akili Kasim have been named Western Athletic Conference Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week, respectively, for September 2 - 8.
 
Edwards, a senior forward from St. Vincent & The Grenadines, scored his 16th career goal and fifth career game-winner in a 2-0 win at Stetson on Friday night. He followed that up with a goal against 15th-ranked UCF on Sunday. The WAC preseason offensive player of the year is tied for third in goals with the weekend brace.
 
Kasim, a sophomore goalkeeper from West Seattle, recorded a pair of double-overtime shutouts against nationally ranked opponents. On Monday, he made the only save he needed to make to preserve the shutout against 18th-ranked Denver in a scoreless draw. He followed that up with another clean sheet in a neutral site match against second-ranked Indiana in a scoreless draw on Sunday. In his four matches this season, Kasim has three shutouts and boasts a 0.90 goals against average, with his only loss coming at 11th-ranked Notre Dame.
 
Other offensive nominees: Grand Canyon's Bert Wilton scored the Lopes' lone goal in a 1-0 shutout win at Santa Clara on Sunday night … San José State's Rudy Castro picked up his first goal of the season on Tuesday at Pacific … Utah Valley's Alec Felix scored a goal and tallied an assist in the Wolverines' 2-2 draw at CSUN.
 
Other defensive nominees: California Baptist's Albert Escuin notched 10 saves in a pair of one-goal losses to UC Riverside and Oral Roberts … Grand Canyon's Pambos Aristotelous helped lead the Lopes to a 1-0 shutout at Santa Clara and helped hold eighth-ranked Saint Mary's to their lowest scoring game in nearly a year in a 1-0 loss … San José State's Jeff Dukes anchored the Spartans' back line in a 2-1 loss at Pacific … UT Rio Grande Valley's Andy Rios made nine saves over two games and earned his sixth-career shutout in a 2-0 win at Stetson.
 
UP NEXT
Another exciting slate awaits the WAC this weekend. Among the intiriguing matchups are CSU Bakersfield hosting seventh-ranked Saint Mary's on Friday, Air Force traveling to 23rd-ranked Cal State Fullerton on Sunday and Seattle U hosting eighth-ranked, and cross-town rival, Washington, also on Sunday. 
 
BY THE NUMBERS
Through two weeks, Seattle U leads the league in shots (80), shutouts (3) and corners (33). UNLV has the lead in points (27) and assists (9) and is tied with CSU Bakersfield for the lead in goals (9). The Rebels also have the lead in saves (19) while Grand Canyon is the leader in least goals allowed (1) and goals against average (0.33).
 
Individually, CBU's Rafael Vacas Barba holds the lead in shots (17) while UNLV's Bryan Martinez-Serrano is the leader in points (9) and assists (3) and is tied with CSUB's Niklas Korber and SU's Noe Meza for the lead in goals (3). In goal, GCU's George Tasouris is tops in goals against average (0.33) and save percentage (.875). CBU's Albert Escuin is the saves leader (16) while SU's Akili Kasim is the shutouts leader with three.
 
ON THE MAP
Seattle U turned some heads on Sunday with a scoreless draw against then-second ranked Indiana but it wasn't quite enough to help the Redhawks break into the national polls. Of the three prognostications released at press time, Seattle U was among those receiving votes in 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. Seattle U is ranked eighth while Utah Valley rounds out the poll at 10th.
 
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.