Six players from the Case Western Reserve University men's soccer team have been selected to the 2018 All-University Athletic Association team. In addition, CWRU Head Coach Brandon Bianco and his assistant coaches were selected as the UAA Coaching Staff of the Year for 2018.
The Spartans and the University of Chicago each placed a league-high three student-athletes on the All-UAA First Team. Senior forward Alex Besl, junior forward Zachary Senft and sophomore defender Nathan Ekberg each received first team honors, while senior defender Christian Lytle, junior midfielder Garrett Winter and freshman goalkeeper Charlie Fink were honorable mention selections.
Besl, a 2017 All-UAA Second Team selection, has posted a strong senior campaign. He currently has scored eight goals and tallied three assists for 19 points. Besl's eight goals currently ranks tied for first on the squad, while his 19 points ranks tied for second. Besl has accounted for three game-winning goals this season, including the game-winner against then 9th-ranked Rochester (N.Y.). For his career, he has scored 13 goals and registered eight assists for 34 points. Besl earned UAA Offensive Athlete of the Week honors on October 29.
Senft, who earned All-UAA Honorable Mention recognition in 2017, leads the team this season with 21 points on seven goals and seven assists. He scored the game-winning goals against Heidelberg University and Adrian College. Senft earned UAA Offensive Athlete of the Week honors on October 15. In his two-years as a Spartan, Senft has already totaled 13 goals and 10 assists for 36 points. His 36 points in a season currently ranks as the third-best mark in program history.
Ekberg and Lytle have led the Spartans defensively, aiding the team to six shutouts this season. The Spartans defense is currently ranked 88th in Division III with a 0.92 goals against average after yielding just 17 goals through 18 games. CWRU has held opponents to just 10.7 shots and 4.3 shots on goal per game. In addition, Ekberg and Lytle have each played a role on the offensive side of the pitch. Ekberg has scored four goals for eight points, including the game-winning goal against Westminster (Pa.) on October 22. Lytle has tallied one goal which ended up being the game-winner against then seventh-ranked Kenyon College on September 26th.
This Lytle's second career All-UAA selection, while Ekberg's honor is the first of his career.
Winter, a first-time All-UAA selection, has had a breakout junior season. He ranks tied for first on the team with eight goals and has tallied three assists for the second-most points on the team this season (19). Winter has scored three game-winning goals in 2018, including the game-winner on a penalty kick to defeat the then top-ranked University of Chicago on October 14th.
Fink has had tremendous freshman campaign, as he has started all 18 games in net and posted a 14-3-1 individual record. Fink has only allowed 16 goals in over 1,597 minutes in net for a 0.90 goals-against average. He has made 55 saves and registered a .775 save percentage. Fink earned UAA Defensive Athlete of the Week honors on October 1.
The Spartans' coaching staff was named UAA Coaching Staff of the Year for the third time in program history, with the first two coming during the 2006 and 2011 seasons. Along with Bianco, assistant coaches Charlie Reymann and Chris Black all shared the honor, after helping to lead the Spartans to its third NCAA Tournament appearance.
Case Western Reserve finished the 2018 regular season with a 14-3-1 overall record, including a 4-2-1 mark in UAA play. The Spartans received an at-large bid to the NCAA playoff field and will play host for the first two rounds of the championships. CWRU will open post-season play this weekend, as they face Keystone College on Saturday, November 10th at 11:00 a.m.