(MSUB Athletics release)
PORTLAND, Ore. – Six players from the Montana State University Billings men’s soccer team earned all-Great Northwest Athletic Conference honors announced by the conference office Tuesday.
Seniors Guillaume Kremer, Ricardo Palomino, and Dana Kowachek were each second-team all-GNAC selections, while senior Ludvig Rhodin, junior Samuele Folla, and sophomore Luca Battistotti were each honorable mention picks.
“It is good to see that even though we didn’t have the season we wanted, my peers respect our program enough to select six of our players as some of the best in the conference,” commented MSUB head coach Alex Balog. “All six of these guys worked very hard all season long to help the team. To see them recognized should be a motivating factor for the rest of our players.”
Among the six all-league selections, three of MSUB’s players are multiple-season award winners. Kremer was a first-team all-GNAC pick last year and earned honorable mention in 2016. Palomino was a first-team all-league pick and the GNAC Newcomer of the Year in 2015, before earning honorable mention during the 2016 season. Battistotti garnered honorable mention for the second straight season.
A forward from Puebla, Mexico, Palomino finished his career tied for second in MSUB history with 27 goals over parts of four seasons. This fall he ranked third on the team with 11 points in 14 games, as he scored five goals and added one assist. His 60 total points since the fall of 2015 are tied for fourth most in school history as well.
Another player whose name will be etched into MSUB’s record books, Kremer needed just three seasons to move into the top-10 in goals, assists, and points at MSUB. He was second on the team this season with 13 points, as he scored four goals and had a team-high five assists while starting all 19 games as a midfielder. The Metz, France, native finished with 14 goals, 16 assists, and 44 points and was a three-year captain for the ‘Jackets.
Putting forth his best collegiate season as a senior, Kowachek was MSUB’s top offensive player this year with 17 points including seven goals and three assists. The Missoula, Montana, native started 17 matches and played in 18, while leading the team with 23 shots on goal and tying for the team lead with 48 total attempts. Upon the conclusion of the regular season, Kowachek ranked No. 8 in the GNAC in total points and No. 9 with 0.94 points per game.
Two of MSUB’s most important players on the defensive front, Battistotti and Folla anchored the back line. Battistotti started all 19 games in his first year as captain, and led the team with 1,716 minutes played primarily as a center back. Offensively, he contributed a goal and three assists as well. Folla started 18 games and ranked second behind Battistotti among field players with 1,651 minutes in his first year in the program. The Italian also had one goal and one assist as he contributed on both sides of the ball.
Completing his collegiate career at MSUB after transferring from the University of Mary, Rhodin racked up 72 saves to rank third in the conference. He started 18 matches and recorded a pair of shutouts, while holding a goals-against average of 2.04. Rhodin finished his career with 275 combined saves between his three seasons with the NCAA Division II Marauders and the Yellowjackets.
“Two of these six student-athletes will be returners, so there is room for growth for both Luca and Samuele,” Balog said. “As far as Guillaume, Dana, Ricardo, and Ludvig go, I am happy for them to be able to finish their collegiate careers with individual recognition from the conference.”
In unprecedented fashion, Simon Fraser University swept all five major conference awards. Mamadi Camara won GNAC Player of the Year, Michael North was named Defensive Player of the Year, Joost Mangert earned Freshman of the Year, and Luciano Trasolini was Newcomer of the Year. After piloting the No. 3 Clan to their third straight league title with a record of 17-1 overall and 11-1 in league play, Clint Schneider was named the GNAC Coach of the Year. It is the first time since 2010, when the fifth major award (Defensive Player of the Year) was added, that one school has claimed all five honors in the same season. Former GNAC member Seattle University won all four of the awards during the 2004 season, but even then two of them – Newcomer of the Year and Freshman of the Year – were shared with players from other teams.
MSUB went 7-10-2 overall and 4-7-1 in conference play to finish in fifth place among the seven teams.