Bell Named League MVP; Seven Spartans Earn All-UAA Honors Following Banner Campaign

Vinny Bell earns his second-straight UAA MVP award.
Vinny Bell earns his second-straight UAA MVP award.

Complete 2011 All-Association Teams

 Following a season that included the second University Athletic Association Championship in program history, the Case Western Reserve University men's soccer team landed seven of its student-athletes on the All-Association team with All-American senior forward Vinny Bell (Parma Heights, Ohio/Valley Forge) and freshman forward Patrick O'Day (Plano, Texas/Plano Senior) earning Most Valuable Player and Co-Rookie of the Year honors, respectively. In addition, Head Coach Dan Palmer and his assistants were tabbed the Co-Coaching Staff of the Year.

The Spartans concluded the 2011 campaign with a 15-5 overall record and a 5-2 mark in the UAA. Case finished tied with Washington University-St. Louis in the league standings, but gained the Association's automatic-qualifier to the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament via its victory versus the Bears in late October.

The UAA Championship and NCAA Tournament berth were each the second in school history (2006).

Palmer, also a UAA Coach of the Year in 2006, has guided the Spartans to 45 victories during the past four seasons. He is joined on the 2011 UAA Co-Coaching Staff of the Year by assistants Kevin Bigart, Vlado Hrelja and Ryko Marich.

A 2010 NSCAA third-team All-American, Bell collects his second-straight UAA MVP award and the third All-UAA First Team nod of his career. In 2011, he finished with UAA-bests and program records of 20 goals and 50 points. He caps off his illustrious career as the school's all-time leader for career goals (43) and career points (101). Nationally, Bell ranked seventh in the nation in points per game (2.50), sixth in total points (50), seventh in total goals (20), tied for eighth in goals per game (1.00) and tied for 19th in total assists (10).

In his first year donning a Spartan uniform, O'Day burst onto the scene, tallying 31 points on 11 goals and nine assists en route to earning Co-Rookie of the Year honors. O'Day also scored a goal in the Spartans' 3-0 NCAA Tournament First Round victory versus No. 17 DePauw University (Ind.).   

Joining Bell on the UAA First Team is senior defender Niro Wimalasena (Mason, Ohio/Mason), while a pair of seniors, midfielder Kyle Alsup (Avon, Ohio/Detroit Country Day, Mich.) and goalkeeper Ben Yabrow (Marietta, Ga./George Walton Comprehensive), headlined the second-team selections.

Junior forward Eric Erb (Worthington, Ohio/Thomas Worthington), senior midfielder Mark Ilhan (Westlake, Ohio/Lutheran West) and O'Day were recognized with honorable mention status.

Wimalasena anchored the Spartan backline, starting all 20 matches as the team captain. He established a CWRU record with 76 career starts for a defensive unit that produced 31 shutouts during the past four seasons. Wimalasena, also a first-team Capital One Academic All-District VII selection, garners his first career first-team accolade after earning second-team laurels in 2009 and 2010 and honorable-mention status in 2008.

Alsup played in 19 matches and accumulated six points on two goals and two helpers. He also played a key role in the Spartans' eight shutouts to earn the first All-UAA selection of his career.

Yabrow was a steady force in the net for the Spartans, starting all 20 matches and factoring in all 20 decisions. The senior spearheaded five individual shutouts with 59 total saves and allowed just 18 goals for a 1.01 goals against average. Now a two-time All-UAA honoree, Yabrow is the school's all-time leader in wins (35) and shutouts (16), while also ranking in the top-five in program history in saves (212, 4th) and goals against average (1.14, 4th) in over 5,452 minutes played.

Erb produced a career year, recording four game-winning goals including the eventual game-winner in NCAA Tourney action versus DePauw. He earns his first conference award after finishing third on the team in points (21) and goals (9).

A four-year contributor for the Spartans, Ilhan earns his first career All-UAA certificate after playing in all 20 matches with 11 starts. For his career, he finished with three goals, all of the game-winning variety, with six career assists.

Behind this group, the Spartans advanced to the NCAA Championship Tournament Second Round for the second time in school history.