Complete Release From The Skyline Conference
KINGS POINT, N.Y. (Nov 7, 2016) – On Monday, the Skyline Conference announced the year-end awards for men's soccer and the Mariners had a total of six players and the coaching staff honored. Senior Gavin Yingling (Salisbury, Md.) was selected as the Offensive Player of the Year, while head coach Michael Smolens was picked as the Coach of the Year.
Yingling also landed on the All-Skyline First Team as a forward. Juniors Hannes Rogers (Weinheim, Germany) and Brian Nickel (North Canton, Ohio) were also selected to the First Team – Rogers as a midfielder and Nickel as a defender. Three Mariners earned Second Team Accolades – senior David Burkhardt (Cutchogue, N.Y.) at midfield, sophomore Neil Painter (New Cumberland, Pa.) on defense and senior goalkeeper Cory Maier (Hampton, Va.).
"All of these awards are a reflection of our team and the success we have achieved," commented Smolens. "This year was a total team effort, and every player and coach played a part in helping us win the conference and gain an NCAA berth."
Yingling is the Skyline leader with 20 goals and 42 points thus far this season. He ranks eighth in the country with the 20 total goals. The senior has seven game-winning goals, which is tops in the league and fourth in the nation. 15 of Yingling's goals came during the Skyline regular season and he also added two assists in league play for 32 points. He was the Skyline Player of the Week three times this year (Sept. 19, Oct. 17 & Oct. 24), the ECAC DIII Metro Offensive Player of the Week on Sept. 20, landed on the Skyline weekly honor roll once (Sept. 26) and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2016 Skyline Championships this past week. This is the third straight season that Yingling was an All-Conference First Teamer, as he was selected to the All-Landmark First Team the past two seasons. He was also named the Landmark Offensive Player of the Year back in 2014.
"In my 27 years as coach here, we have not had a player put in as much time as Gavin has on his own to work on becoming a more proficient goal scorer," added Smolens. "Certainly that work has paid off for him and our team. Gavin has come through so many times in key moments for us since he walked through Vickery Gate that he deserves every accolade he receives."
The USMMA Coaching Staff, led by Smolens with Associate Head Coach John Fitzgerald and Assistant Geoff Cochrane, guided the Mariners to the Skyline Regular Season Title with a 10-1 league record in the program's first year back in the conference since the 2006 season. This is Smolens' 10th Skyline Coach of the Year award, to go along with one from the Landmark Conference and two NSCAA Regional COY awards. Overall, Merchant Marine boasts a 13-4-2 overall record. Top-seeded USMMA won the 2016 Skyline Championship this past weekend and earned the conference's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. This is the sixth trip to the NCAA Tournament for the Mariners under Smolens' tenure.
"I am very lucky to have such outstanding coaches with whom I get to work as John and Geoff," said Smolens. "Each of them has played a vital role in our team achieving success, and by working together we have been able to help our team reach our goals. It is terrific we have received this honor, but we all recognize that without our players putting in such a strong effort, we could not have won this award."
Rogers is the Mariners' top midfielder with 12 points on four goals and four assists. He has tallied one game-winning goal, and it came last week in the Skyline semifinals against Farmingdale State. In Skyline regular season action, Rogers had eight points on three goals and two assists. He was selected to the Skyline weekly honor roll back on Oct. 10. This is the second time Rogers has earned All-Conference accolades as he was on the All-Landmark Second Team after his sophomore season last year.
"Hannes is a model of consistency and his work rate in the midfield is second to none," commented Smolens. "He is the engine that makes our team go and his work in the attack and on defense has been a key factor in our success."
Nickel started all 17 games that he played in this year for the Mariner back line. He was part of the USMMA defensive corps that helped lead the team to nine shutouts. Nickel also contributed offensively with a goal and an assist for three points.
Brian stepped up for us this year as a central defender and did a terrific job of helping organize our backline," added Smolens. "He showed great improvement as the season went on and played a key role in helping our team become stronger defensively."
Burkhardt is second on Merchant Marine with seven assists and his nine points are the second-best among Mariner midfielders. He also scored one goal this year, the game-winner in the Mariners' victory over Sarah Lawrence back on Oct. 8.
"It is great to see David honored, as he has grown so much in his four years at the Academy," said Smolens. "He has been a terrific two-way threat for us and we are proud of all he has achieved."
Painter played in all 19 games for the Mariners this season, starting 18 of them on the Merchant Marine defensive back line. He helped the squad to shut out its opponents on nine occasions throughout the season. Painter scored two goals on the season, both against Skyline opponents.
"Neil worked as hard in the off-season as any player I have coached here," commented Smolens. "These efforts enabled him to become a powerful defender for us and the other coaches in our conference recognized what a key member of our team he has become."
Maier started every game for USMMA during the season and was the goalie of record for all 19 games. He finished the year with a 13-4-2 record and was the Skyline Conference leader with a 0.947 goals against average. Maier was a part of nine Merchant Marine shutouts this season, with five solo shutouts and four combined. He also had a .779 save percentage, a mark that was good for fifth in the league.
"Cory has enjoyed a terrific senior year and has led our defense which featured a number of players in new or expanded roles," added Smolens. "He has come up big for us on numerous occasions, and his leadership in the back has been key to us gaining an NCAA bid this year."
For the complete release from the Skyline Conference, click here.
The Mariners (13-4-2) will travel to nationally-ranked Haverford (13-3-3) this weekend for the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament. The First Round matchup against the host Fords is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 12, at 11 a.m. at Haverford's Walton Field. More information on the Mariners' trip to NCAA Tournament can be found at this link.
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