STOCKTON, Calif. – A day after being selected to their third NCAA Tournament, Pacific men's soccer hauled in a total of nine West Coast Conference postseason awards.
Senior Camden Riley was named as the WCC Player of the Year and senior Wouter Verstraaten earned the honor of Defensive Player of the Year. Senior defender Bob Groenendijk joined the two on the All-WCC First Team while junior forward Jonathan Jimenez garnered Second Team honors. Junior Andreas Charalambous received Honorable Mention honors. Freshmen Cooper Riley and Jose Sosa both landed on the WCC's All-Freshman Team.
Camden Riley's selection comes after an impressive run down the stretch in which he helped carry the Tigers to a second-place finish in the WCC and five wins in the final six games. In that stretch, Riley scored in five of those final six games and assisted on four more goals. The midfielder totaled nine goals and five assists for a total of 23 points, the most in a single season for the Tigers since 2014. He netted four game-winning goals this season including one in the final game of the season as well as one in overtime against No. 14 California. This is Riley's second selection in his career to the All-WCC First Team and he is the first Tiger to earn the title of WCC Player of the Year.
Verstraaten earned Defensive Player of the Year honors after a strong senior campaign in which he bossed a defensive line that posted six shutouts and held opponents to one goal five more times. He missed one game due to an injury in the early part of the season but started in every other and scored an important goal against Western Michigan in the final non-conference game of the season to give the Tigers a tie on the road. His honors come one week after he was named to the Google Cloud Academic All-District 8 Team, which makes him eligible to earn Google Cloud Academic All-American Honors.
This is the second year in a row that a Tiger has earned Defensive Player of the Year honors. Tristan Blackmon picked up the award last year. Blackmon was drafted third overall in the MLS SuperDraft by LAFC.
Groenendijk earned the first All-WCC First Team selection of his career after playing in a strong defensive line all year that helped the Tigers to 11 wins by stifling opponents' offenses. Groenendijk helped create in the attack as well as a full back that went on runs all season that caused problems on the wings. The senior defender assisted on three goals on the season including two against UC Riverside in the early part of the season. He would assist on another against Santa Clara in October.
Junior forward Jonathan Jimenez earned a spot on the All-WCC Second Team after his first season at Pacific since transferring from Seton Hall. Jimenez scored eight goals and assisting on five more. Jimenez led the Tigers to a win over No. 11 Portland by scoring three goals in three minutes for the first hat trick and six-point game in the modern era of Pacific men's soccer. He netted the game-winning goal over Stanford in the first loss for the Cardinal in nearly a year. Twice this season he had a goal and an assist in a game, first against UC Irvine when he scored once an assisted on two more and again against San Francisco when he had a goal and an assist.
Charalambous picked up Honorable Mention honors for his first postseason award since he landed on the All-Freshman team in 2016. The junior midfielder started in 16 games this season and earned two assists including one on the game-winning goal to against Gonzaga in which he sent in a free kick to Camden Riley to help the Tigers finish the season with a win. His other assist came in a 4-2 victory over UC Irvine, another NCAA Tournament team.
Cooper Riley worked his way onto the All-Freshman team by appearing in all 17 games and making seven starts three of which came in the final five games. Riley scored twice on the season, the first of which came against UC Irvine, his second goal was an overtime winner that helped the Tigers to a victory over Santa Clara.
Riley's fellow freshman, Jose Sosa, started in six games this year and appeared in all 17. Sosa scored the first goal of his career, a game-winner, against UC Riverside early in the season. He also assisted on a goal in that game as well as two more throughout the season. He assisted on a goal in Pacific's victory over No. 14 California and had a helper on a goal against San Jose State. Sosa did make the start in the season finale against Gonzaga.
The Tigers and all of their postseason honorees continue their season on Thursday at Knoles Field against UC Riverside in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.