MACON, Ga. (School Release) - After helping the Mercer men's soccer team to one of its most successful regular seasons in program history, several Bears received A-Sun Conference postseason honors as announced by the league office on Tuesday afternoon.
Fifth-year head coach Brad Ruzzo was named the A-Sun Conference Coach of the Year while seniors Josh Shutter and Will Betts were named the A-Sun Conference Defender of the Year and the A-Sun Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year, respectfully.
The awards didn't stop there, however, as a program record seven players were named to the A-Sun All-Conference first and second teams. Shutter, sophomore Ashani Samuels and junior Ehjayson Henry were voted onto the first team while senior Richie Edmondson, juniors Carl-Oscar Andersson and Ryan King and sophomore Greg Ranjitsingh were named to the second team.
For Ruzzo, the Coach of the Year honor is his second major award of his career after he was part of the staff at Bradley that was named the Missouri Valley Conference Coaching Staff of the Year in 2007. Ruzzo has transformed Mercer into one of the premier mid-major programs in the country and has achieved double-digit win totals in 2010 and 2012, representing two of the eight double-digit win seasons in program history.
Shutter culminated his steady climb up the A-Sun Conference by being named the Defender of the Year and an All-Conference first team member as a senior. The Sinking Spring, Pa. native was named to the A-Sun All-Conference second team as a sophomore and voted onto the A-Sun All-Conference first team as a junior. In 2012, Shutter has appeared and started in all 18 games for Mercer and has six points on two goals and two assists.
Betts continues to perform on the field and in the classroom at a level few other student-athletes across the country can rival. The Brenham, Texas native is now the two-time A-Sun Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year, after winning the award in 2011, and is also a two-time Capital One Academic All-District IV first team selection. Betts has started 72 games over his career, which ranks as the eighth-most games started by an A-Sun player in conference history, and has amassed 32 career points which ranks fourth among active players in the A-Sun Conference.
Betts, who has a 3.98 GPA as a finance major, isn't the only Bear achieving success on the field and in the classroom, with King and Samuels joining him on the A-Sun Conference All-Academic team. As engineering majors, King has a 3.58 GPA while Samuels has a 3.75 cumulative GPA.
For Henry, the first team selection is his first postseason award after leading the Bears and ranking tied for third in the A-Sun Conference with 14 points on five goals and four assists.
Samuels continues to rake in the awards, with his A-Sun All-Conference first team and All-Academic selections adding onto his Capital One Academic All-District IV first team distinction he received last week. The West Moreland, Jamaica native has eight points on three goals and two assists this season and is a big part of a Mercer defense that ranks 36th in the nation with a 0.88 goals against average.
Ranjitsingh paced all second team selections by leading all A-Sun goalkeepers in goals against average (0.88) and save percentage (.835). King appeared in all 18 games and has 12 points on two goals and an A-Sun Conference leading eight assists. Edmondson tallied a career-high 12 points on four goals and four assists this season and was named to the All-Conference second team for the second time in his career after earning the distinction in 2010 as well. Andersson followed up an A-Sun All-Freshman team selection last season with an even more productive 2012 campaign, piling up 11 points in three goals and five assists.
East Tennessee State junior forward David Geno won the A-Sun Player of the Year while classmate Ryan Coulter won the A-Sun Goalkeeper of the Year. FGCU forward Felipe DeSousa captured the last individual award by being voted the A-Sun Freshman of the Year.
Mercer now turns its attention towards the A-Sun Championship where it enters as the No. 2 seed. The Bears will take on either No. 3 seed ETSU or No. 6 seed Jacksonville on Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. at the FGCU Soccer Complex.