Nov. 8, 2007
PARK RIDGE, ILL. - The Big Ten office announced the 2007 All-Big Ten and All-Freshman men's soccer teams, as well as individual award winners today. Ohio State's Xavier Balc was selected as Player of the Year, while Northwestern's Piero Bellizzi was dubbed Freshman of the Year and Indiana head coach Michael Freitag garnered Coach of the Year accolades.
A unanimous All-Big Ten First Team honoree in 2006, Balc tops last year's achievement by becoming Ohio State's second men's soccer Player of the Year along with Justin Cook, who was honored in 2004. The senior forward leads the conference with 12 assists and ranks second with 20 points (4 goals 12 assists) in all games. The Buckeyes closed out the regular season with a record of 11-3-4 entering the Big Ten Championship with the No. 2 seed.
Bellizzi becomes the second player in Wildcat history to earn Freshmen of the Year laurels and first since Gerardo Alvarez was honored in 2003. The newcomer paces the Big Ten with nine points in conference games only, racking up three goals and three assists which ranks him among the top two in both categories. Northwestern garnered the No. 3 seed in this year's Championship, up two spots from last season.
Indiana's Freitag has been named Coach of the Year for a second straight season after guiding the Hoosiers to a 12-4-3 overall record and a 4-0-2 unbeaten conference mark. Since being named head coach in 2004, IU has compiled a 56-15-12 record. Indiana claimed the conference's regular season title outright with a 0-0 tie against Wisconsin on Nov 4.
Five unanimous selections highlighted the All-Big Ten first team. Forwards Xavier Balc of Ohio State and Doug DeMartin of Michigan State, midfielders Brad Ring of Indiana and David Roth of Northwestern and defender Eric Brunner of Ohio State were unanimously selected by the conference coaches.
The conference office also announced honorees from each team for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award. The student-athletes chosen are individuals who have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior. In addition, the student-athletes must be in good academic standing and have demonstrated good citizenship outside of the sports-competition setting. Honorees for men's soccer are Indiana's Charlie Traylor, Michigan's Michael Parke, Michigan State's Ryan Dick, Northwestern's Matt Witt, Ohio State's Geoff Marsh, Penn State's Andy Machi and Wisconsin's Nick Caronna. These seven student-athletes are now candidates for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award, as the conference office will honor one male and one female student-athlete from each institution at the end of the school year.